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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 Five: Still Fighting for Freedom: #BlackLeadershipMatters


← 110 | 111 →

Chapter 5


Still Fighting for Freedom: #BlackLeadershipMatters

To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never let despair have the last word

—Cornel West, 2014

Lessons Learned

My perspectives have matured since I entered educational leadership, although I still feel that I know nothing compared to my father-in-law. I entered the field of school leadership with a naïve understanding of the daily struggle I would face as a Black equity-minded leader committed to closing the opportunity gap. While I have made some progress in adjusting the cognitive frames of many of those with whom I work to increase life and academic opportunities for underserved children, it needs to be noted that this progress (albeit minor) has not been possible without a fight. Every step toward equity has been met with new and unique ways to resist because despite many of the often stated proclamations, education is a field with individuals who have a number of competing interests, many of which work against equity. ← 111 | 112 →

When I entered into school leadership, I was under the impression that our issues of school inequality could be addressed quickly not fully understanding how deeply connected they were to many of the other inequities facing our country. The resistance to equal treatment we observe in education is not all that different from opposition we see in every other element of society, therefore it should not...

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