All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Tondra L Loder-Jackson

Advisory Committee Members

Andrew Baer

Lois M Christensen

Michele Jean Sims

Deborah L Voltz

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


Industrial High School, later renamed A.H. Parker High School after the inaugural principal, Arthur Harold Parker, is a predominantly African American high school located in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1900, A.H. Parker High School was established as the first four-year public high school for African American students in Birmingham. Historically, Parker has been recognized as being the heart of Black secondary education in Birmingham. Unfortunately, limited scholarly research exists detailing this historic schooling environment that motivated Black students to excel, despite vast inequities and inequalities. This dissertation tells the story of A.H. Parker High School with a focus on the culturally relevant caring that existed within this educational institution between 1950 and 1989. Utilizing oral history and archival data analysis, this study answers the following questions: What were the lived educational experiences of students who attended A.H. Parker High School between 1950 and 1989? Did Birmingham’s historical and sociopolitical contexts shape narrators’ lived experiences as it related to the culturally relevant caring that existed within this schooling environment? The primary findings revealed that students valued A.H. Parker’s learning environment and deemed it a relevant component of their motivation for success. The four identified themes included: (1) the legacy of school spirit, (2) exemplary administrators and educators, (3) institutional continuity, and (4) alumni institutional mourning. The implications of these iv findings suggest that, collectively, former PHS alumni acknowledge that A.H. Parker High School was a good school for Black students. Furthermore, they attest that their experiences in this historic schooling environment prepared them to live and thrive within a society that often deemed them intellectually and socially inferior. Consequently, many former alumni maintain a sense of loyalty and pride in this historically Black high school and the educators that nurtured their academic and interior lives. In sum, the unearthing of the local history of A.H. Parker High School adds to the academic scholarship and the historiography of the importance of Parker High School and the larger Birmingham community as a site of historical significance for studying Black secondary education in the United States.

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