"When we find our histories, we find a more expansive expression of our freedom."
-Tarryn Lael Simmons, Ph.D.
The stories we tell ourselves have the power to define our lives, as well as the possibilities and limitations of future generations.
The following theoretical model and audio documentaries are major findings from Dr. Tarryn Lael Simmons' dissertation research. The study delves into the life histories of African American graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who generously took time to share their experiences for the purposes of this research.
Their stories are sacred.
Each of the audio documentaries here provides a panoramic perspective on the life histories of African American graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The study involves a critical race theory analysis of the participants' experiences with a focus on HBCU cultural wealth, trauma, and spirituality. The participants' life histories have both historic and modern relevance in America's evolving racial landscape and democracy.
A theoretical model called Transformative Spiritual Resilience (TSR) emerged from the study. TSR is an emancipatory strength that was found to empower Black HBCU graduates to overcome race-related threats and become advocates for social justice in African American and other marginalized communities.
HBCUs were founded shortly before and after the emancipation of enslaved African people in America to help make manifest the country's promises of freedom and racial justice through education. Future research will explore the implications Transformative Spiritual Resilience may have for the development of students who will continue the legacy of HBCUs and bring forth a more just society.
Dear HBCU family members/research participants,
I thank each of you for kindly sharing your life histories with me. It is a profound honor and responsibility to conduct research about your experiences as African American HBCU graduates. It's my prayer that the fruit of our conversations will help empower students, educators, and policymakers - particularly at HBCUs and all institutions of higher learning striving for equality.
The HBCUs UnHushed website is dedicated to our African ancestors who dared to gather under the cloak of night in hush harbors. Hush harbors were spiritual sanctuaries secretly erected in the brush just beyond the slave plantation. It was in those holy spaces that the ancestors praised and worshipped God in our sacred cultural ways - cried out for protection from pathological slaveholders - and orchestrated portals to liberation on spiritual, mental, and physical planes. This website serves as a modern-day hush harbor where stories of the Divine, the profane, and the realization of our ancestor's freedom songs live on.
Tarryn Lael Simmons, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Global Leadership, Bennett College
Researcher | Social Justice Activist
Specializations: Multicultural education with a focus on HBCUs, African American HBCU students and graduates,
Global social justice leadership