The purpose of this study is to write the life history of a black woman educator is order to enhance our understandings of educational activism and social change in the Deep South. African American educators have been marginalized and under represented in their communities despite the roles they have played in ameliorating educational inequalities. The life history of seventy-year-old Clara Byrd Glasperís activism as a black woman educator is one example.
Life history, as a method of research, reveals an individualís life experiences from their perspective and provides the appropriate methodology to explore the following research questions: In the context of activism, what do we learn from Claraís story about the process of social change?; what does it mean to be a black woman educator activist fighting for educational equality?; what are the motivating factors that sparked Clara Glasperís fight for educational equality?; what strategies did Clara Glasper use to meet the challenges she encountered in a segregated society? These questions are answered through a combination of life history interviews and an examination of historical documents connected with the longest running desegregation lawsuit in the history of the United States, forty-seven-year-old Clifford Eugene Davis, et al. v. East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, et al.(Mathews & Jarvis, 1997).
The fifteen recorded interviews approximately two hours in length were conducted from July 2000 to December 2002. The interviews were edited into a first person narrative spanning Clara Glasperís entire life. An introduction providing a context begins each chapter. Next, Claraís first person narrative becomes the body of each chapter. Reflections follow the narrative at the end of each chapter where my voice is heard.
This research concludes that unlike other black women educator activists, Clara Glasperís activism for social change went through three stages: awareness, advocacy, and full-time activism. Embedded in her life story, three themes emerge that necessitate a rethinking of their implications for the field of education: activism, educational equality, and racism. Lastly, this life history is important to the field of education because it raises serious questions about how African Americans continue to be marginalized.