Date of Award

Fall 12-9-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dale Lunsford

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Heather Annulis

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

H. Quincy Brown

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

John Kmiec

Committee Member 4 School



African-American students experience human capital opportunity and achievement gaps. Researchers have called for culturally relevant strategies to help close the gaps. The historic Black Church, a part of many African-American students’ culture and community, is a historic and current source of social capital for positive human capital development outcomes. Critical consciousness develops positive human capital outcomes, such as academic achievement, in African-American and other minority students. Much of the literature on critical consciousness is quantitative in nature and therefore does not include the intentions or the willingness of organizations to develop critical consciousness. Therefore, there is a need to understand the intentions of historic Black Churches towards developing critical consciousness among African-American students from the perceptions of Black Church leaders.

This study explored the intentions of Black Church leaders towards the adoption of teaching African-American students critical consciousness. This study employed a qualitative interpretive phenomenological investigative approach to explore southern Black Church leaders’ intentions to teach African-American students critical consciousness. The researcher found that southern Black Church leaders taught critical consciousness concepts and that they had strong intentions of continuing to teach the competency. The study concluded that local Black Churches should be viewed as a culturally relevant source of critical consciousness development for African-American students. In order to fully implement and align critical consciousness teachings within youth programming for African-American students, Black Church leaders need access to training and tools such as curriculum in alignment with biblical principles. Furthermore, critical consciousness should be taught in a manner that is transformative for both the student and the teacher while not engendering hatred or hopelessness. The researcher discusses the implications for future research based on the study’s findings.