supporting research and practice focused on the academic and psychosocial experiences of historically marginalized doctoral students

Black/African American Music Leaders with Honorary Doctorates

This week’s blog post highlights Black/African American music leaders who have received honorary doctorate degrees for professional achievements and service to their disciplines.  Our list includes videos of ceremonies where they received their degrees and shared remarks.  For more information about celebrities who received honorary doctoral degrees, check out this list.

Aretha Franklin

Patti La Belle

B.B. King

Wynton Marsalis

Kanye West

Stevie Wonder




Black Church Leadership and the Doctorate

In pulpits of Black churches all over the United States Black preachers celebrated the Easter tradition this past weekend.  Here is a list of six Black preachers with doctorates who also espouse and practice ideologies of social justice advocacy in support of historically marginalized groups.  Included in this post are links to preachers’ websites and videos of selected sermons. Also, see the For Harriet and TheConversation  references for additional information on Black church leadership.   Please be advised the list below is not exhaustive as there are numerous church leaders doing excellent work in our community. Future blog posts will highlight additional church leaders/initiatives serving underrepresented populations that promote academic success.

1.   Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright


2.  Dr. Renita Weems


3.  Dr. Otis Moss, III


4.  Dr. Raphael Warnock 


5.  Dr. Howard-John Wesley


6.  Dr. Eboni Marshall Turman



Written by:  Pamela Petrease Felder, Ph.D., Founder of #BlackDoctoratesMatter

Five Resources for Understanding Intersectionality and Historically Marginalized Students

Research and practice centered on the role and value of intersectionality in the lives of historically marginalized doctoral students are critical to creating, building, and sustaining programmatic efforts.  These efforts, with outcomes to improve and increase academic success and doctoral degree completion, serve to broaden our understanding regarding the depth of scope racial and cultural experiences.  The historically marginalized experiences of students are vast and complex and understanding them requires approaches that consider the richness and depth of multiple racial/cultural influences and identities.  Five resources are presented here to support and promote the intersectionality research.  These resources include websites for publications addressing perspectives on: gender, academic discipline, political philosophy, socio-economic status, and immigrant status.  Readers are encouraged to review this information (and other sources on intersectionality not posted here) to get a sense of why this work is important for supporting the lives of marginalized students.


1. Intersectionality and Black Men:


2. Intersectionality and Politics: 

International Socialist Review:  http://isreview.org/about

3. Intersectional Identities and Educational Leadership of Black Women:


4. Intersectionality and Educational Background/Socio-Economic Status:

Navigating the pipeline: How socio-cultural influences impact first-generation doctoral students.  Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Vol 5(2), Jun 2012, 112-121.


5. Intersectionality and Understanding the Black Immigrant Student Experience: 

“Oh, of Course I’m Going to Go to College”: Understanding how habitus shapes the college choice process of Black immigrant students. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education Education 2012, Vol. 5, No. 2, 96–111.





The McNair Program and its Positive Influence on Success for Underrepresented Doctoral Students

Research indicates multiple levels of support are needed to facilitate doctoral degree attainment for historically marginalized students.  National, state, local, and organizational efforts are necessary to stem attrition and build communities that embrace academic achievement for students of color.  A long-standing national effort supporting students of color is the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement program.  Named after the second African American to fly in space, McNair, with a PhD in laser physics, orbited the earth 122 times in a space shuttle mission and is the model for a program emphasizing doctoral degree completion for first-generation, low-income students.  With outcomes for exposure to graduate level academic activities to increase attainment of the PHD, McNair is essential to increasing doctoral degree production in the United States.

Beyond a student’s academic capacity, McNair values the process of making meaning of a one’s potential to be a well-rounded scholar.  To support students from underrepresented backgrounds, members of the McNair community oftentimes see beyond mainstream aspects of the doctoral experience.  For instance, creating spaces to support racially and culturally-based research interests that are meaningful to a student’s identity and research interests involves finding opportunities in institutional spaces where racially and culturally relevant ideas are not be readily apparent.

McNair Scholars benefit from a vast network of researchers, practitioners, and scholars who provide both academic and psycho-social support.  This is helpful since many students bring valuable levels of emotional intelligence with them based on their experiences.  However, managing it may require different skill sets; and drawing on a diverse network mentors is essential to supporting differences among a variety of disciplinary experiences.  In addition to providing these layers of support, McNair creates spaces that illustrate successful transitions from doctoral study into careers emphasizing specific disciplinary interests.  Oftentimes historically marginalized students don’t benefit from the protection afforded by supportive legacies of inclusion where thriving intellectually and culturally is a norm.  Thus, engaging with mentors who have experience in their careers and disciplines, serves to build cultural wealth and sustain programmatic activities to support scholarly engagement within their intellectual communities.

The contribution McNair makes to supporting doctoral degree completion fori historically marginalized students is invaluable.  It represents a critical layer of addressing a multi-faceted system of exclusion for underrepresented populations regarding their participation in higher education.  Furthermore, McNair represents the promise of potential in strengthening our nation by way doctoral degree completion; bringing to bear one of Dr. McNair’s well known quotes: “Whether or not you reach your goal in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them.  You’re eagles!  Stretch your wings and fly to the sky.” Preparation, motivation, and determination are driving forces of the program facilitating academic success, degree completion and transition into the academic profession and other careers.

More information about Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Programs throughout the United States can be found here:  https://mcnairscholars.com/regional-and-state-associations-2/


Ronald McNair

Celebrating Caribbean Scholarship and Service

Recently, music icon Rhianna was honored by Harvard University for her humanitarian efforts in her native country of Barbados.  Her service supports critical ongoing medical research on the island and a long-standing interest in giving back to her community.  In addition to celebrating Rhianna’s philanthropic generosity and enormous talent, we thought it’s important to highlight other Caribbean natives who are making tremendous contributions in representing the Caribbean through their work and service.  Check out three (3) important West Indian natives whose work exemplifies academic excellence as well as the importance of advocacy for historically marginalized populations.

Sir Hilary Beckles

Dr. Beckles is a historian and Vice-Chancellor of the University of West Indies.   He’s a chief advocate and champion for the cause for reparations for historically marginalized persons in the Caribbean and all over the world.  Among his call for investment and expansion in education, healthcare, social services, his stance on reparatory justice brings attention to critical historical incidents that provide insight to understanding grave systemic inequities.  More about his work can be found here: https://www.uwi.edu/VCBiography.asp

Sir Hilary Beckles discusses his work on reparations:


Carol Boyce-Davies

You may have seen Dr. Carol Boyce-Davies on a panel with Angela Davis, or mentoring youth at a forum on equal rights for women.  She is the Frantz Fanon Lifetime Award Winner of the Caribbean Philosophical Association, former president of the Caribbean Studies Association, and prolific advocate of marginalized women and our experiences in her publications Black Women, Writing and Identity: Migrations of the Subject (Routledge, 1994) and Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (Duke University Press, 2008). As a proud Trinidadian native and graduate of University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Howard University, she’s a staunch proponent of historically Black colleges and universities and an excellent example of how HBCU graduates transition to graduate school and the professoriate. More about Dr. Boyce-Davies prolific scholarship can be found here:  http://caroleboycedavies.com/about/

Carol Boyce-Davies sharing perspectives on Black consciousness:


Shakeba Foster

Jamaica represents an impressive history of Rhodes Scholars; check out the registry.  Shakeba Foster joins the list of Caribbean natives whose brilliance will provide valuable scholarship in a variety of academic disciplines.  As the youngest West Indian native on our list, Shakeba’s important work in economics represents the promising future for the academic pipeline leading towards doctoral degree completion.  To review more about Shakeba’s experience and background, check out this link to the Jamaican Information Service:   http://jis.gov.jm/shakeba-foster-2017-rhodes-scholar/

Continued appreciation of scholars of color who promote knowledge and scholarship about historically marginalized communities provides an opportunity to engage in the development of cultural wealth.  We are thankful for the ways their work uplifts our communities and creates models for pathways to success and prosperity.







Channeling #RESISTANCE in Tough Political Climates

As momentum builds to #RESIST a political climate that threatens the freedoms and rights of historically marginalized communities; we wanted to contribute to the growing resistance dialogue in support of doctoral students who are developing and managing their strategies to cope with racism and discrimination within the context of their academic and/or professional experiences. Organizational commitment is essential to social justice movements.  Here are eight organizations with expressed commitment to racial and cultural awareness, understanding, and agency.  As you make progress with any resistance efforts, we encourage you to review these websites and consider the various organizational approaches to representation of race and culture in recognition of diversity, inclusion, and excellence in research and practice.

  1. American Medical Association (AMA)
  1. American Counseling Association (ACA)
  1. American Sociological Association (ASA)
  1. American Psychological Association (APA)
  1. Council of International Education and Exchange (CIEE)
  1. American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
  1. Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM)
  1. American Educational Research Association (AERA)




8 Social Media Groups Supporting Women of Color


As the nation grapples with the transition of presidential leadership, millions of women marched in favor of social justice and equal rights on Saturday, January 21, 2017. Responses to the march flooded social media; some in solidarity, others in vehement opposition to the our nation’s new political leadership.  Many women on social media were concerned about the level of support for the march in comparison to organized support of social movements like #BlackLivesMatter and similar efforts addressing the long-standing racial and cultural inequities specifically related to the experiences of women of color. Despite efforts to unite women across racial and cultural lines, gaps still exist that provide spaces where women of color are validated.  Today’s post highlights 8 social media groups that are recognizing women of color in the academy.  While this is not an exhaustive list, it offers some guidance for historically marginalized doctoral students who may be interested in contributing to (and being part of) communities where activities celebrate women of color.  Please keep in mind that access to, and/or membership, for some of these groups requires approval from site administrators.  You are encouraged to check them out and lend your support!

8 Social Media Sites Supporting Women of Color in the Academy: 

  1.  Binders Full of Women of Color in Academia (Facebook).
  2. #CiteASista (https://twitter.com/citeasista).
  3. Move and Shake:  Academic Women Connecting the Journey (http://moveandshake.blogspot.com/2013/05/who-are-move-and-shake-women.html).
  4. National Association of Black Women Doctorates (also known as The Birth of an Association – Facebook).  This is an emerging group so check in often for new developments.
  5. Presumed Incompetent (https://www.facebook.com/PresumedIncompetent/).
  6. Sisters of the Academy (SOTA) (http://www.sistersoftheacademy.org/).
  7. The Supreme Love Project (http://jeaninestaples.com/coach/).
  8. WOC Academics in the Humanities (Facebook).