Francena Turner

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Francena Turner is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Education Policy, Organization, & Leadership (History of Education & Higher Education) program. While at the University of Illinois, Francena serves as a Graduate teaching assistant in courses that deal with issues of diversity, equity, and social justice as well as histories of education.

Dissertation Title: “Bone by Bone:” Black Women at Fayetteville State, 1960-1972

Dissertation Abstract: When scholars write of the Civil Rights Movement and/or HBCUs, they most often write from a top-down perspective that privileges “leaders”, funding, legislation, or the physical growth of an institution. Rarely, outside of Bennett or Spelman Colleges, do we see scholarship on the experiences of Black women who participated in grassroots organizing while attending HBCUs. Francena uses oral history interviews and the archive to explore the ways in which Black women participated in Civil Rights/Black Power Era social movements while students at Fayetteville State University and share the stories of student activism from their vantage points and situate them in their particular social, historical, political, and cultural contexts in an effort to present a rich, nuanced rendering of their experiences. Specifically, she asks the following questions: 1. In what ways did Black women participate in the Civil Rights/Black Power Era activism—specifically the Sit-In and Black Campus Movements—while students at Fayetteville State?; 2. What forces radicalized them or aided in their political education? Specifically, what family, community, and/or educational experiences shaped their involvement in organizing and activism while enrolled at Fayetteville State?; 3. Until 1964, and in line with its creation history, most of Fayetteville State students pursued teaching degrees. In what ways did their experiences during their participation in grassroots organizing aid in crafting their teaching beliefs and practices?; 4. What do their stories contribute to the historiographies of the Civil Rights/Black Power movement(s)?