The Phenomenon of Blacks Emerging Out of Poverty into Prominent Leadership Positions

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A disproportionate number of Blacks live in poverty, experience trauma and adversity as children, and face more challenges to achieve success than non-Blacks. Yet still some rise. Why is that? This phenomenological study explores answers. The researcher examined the lived experiences of Blacks who lived in poverty, scored high adverse childhood experiences (ACE) levels, and underwent other traumatic experiences. The participants completed the ACE questionnaire, and the researcher conducted interviews, evaluated scores, and captured the essence of their stories. Responses to research questions focused on what motivated the participants to emerge from poverty and adversity to become prominent leaders, the advice they would give to their younger selves, and the leadership traits and principles they practice as leaders today. The study established that all participants lived in poverty, experienced adversity and trauma as a child but were able to emerge into successful positions. A significant finding is that participants in this study defied the odds by overcoming their poverty, adversity, and trauma to emerge into success and give hope to other Black children. Participants were motivated by self-determination, support of their family, extended family—or “the village"—and strong belief in Christ. The experiences of resiliency and the strong personal will to succeed led them to form natural leadership characteristics at a young age, transform their circumstances and environments, and develop a desire to serve others. These leaders operationalize a variety of leadership principles in their current positions. Hear their life stories and view the research results within the study.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership Studies
Leadership, Black Studies, Behavioral Sciences