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Leading While Black

Reflections on the Racial Realities of Black School Leaders Through the Obama Era and Beyond


Floyd Cobb

What does it mean to lead while Black in America? How do Black educators lead for equity to ensure a quality academic experience for Black children when calls for equality are routinely discredited in our post-racial context? Through this book, Floyd Cobb passionately and honestly draws from his personal and professional experiences to describe his path to accepting the harsh realities of being an equity-minded Black leader in K–12 schools. Offered through the performance of autoethnography, Cobb highlights and gives voice to the often-unacknowledged vulnerability of equity-minded Black leaders who work in suburban contexts. Using the era of the Obama presidency as the backdrop for this work, Cobb illuminates the challenges and complexities of advocating for marginalized children who come from a shared racial heritage in a society that far too often are reluctant to accept such efforts. Through Leading While Black, emerging and aspiring Black leaders will be reminded that they are not alone in their struggles, but must nonetheless persist if we are to do our part in making education a better experience for our children.

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Chapter Three: The Miseducation of the Black Leader


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Chapter 3


The Miseducation of the Black Leader

Philosophers have long conceded, however, that every man has two educations: the one which is given to him and the one which he gives to himself. Of the two kinds, the latter is by far more desirable.

—Woodson, 1933/2010, p. 67

Presumption of Guilt

Upon graduating from Howard University, the need to confront my double consciousness and vulnerability was foremost in my mind. With two bachelor’s degrees in hand, it was clear that I had defied the odds and shed the stereotypical assumptions of what it meant to be a Black male. Nonetheless, I was hyperaware that, despite these credentials, the assumption of criminality was never far.

I was coming off an incredible student teaching experience at the District of Columbia Public Schools (D.C.P.S.) magnet school, School Without Walls, located on the campus of the George Washington ← 65 | 66 →

University. Teaching there gave me an opportunity to use all the instructional skills and talents I had acquired. I absolutely loved teaching high school social studies to my students and realized that the field of education was a natural fit for me. That experience truly illustrated to me how much of a difference one person could make, especially when that person loves what he does.

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