Running, running the show: Supporting the leadership development of Black girls in middle school

Lauren C. Mims, Cierra Kaler-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black girls have been at the forefront of educational change as leaders who “run the show” throughout history yet their unique contributions are missing from books and classroom materials, and their perspectives excluded from definitions of leadership. To address these deficits, we interviewed 21 Black girls enrolled in a summer program in a mid-sized Southern city individually and in focus groups about their knowledge of Black women leaders and definitions of leadership. Using narrative analysis, we analyzed the individual and focus group interviews. Knowledge of Black female leaders ranged from 0 to 4 with the majority (11; 52%) listing 1. Definitions of leadership aligned with identity developmental questions of “Who am I?” and “How do I fit in?” Being a leader involved making positive life choices for staying on the right path, even if that path differed from their peers, and emphasized that leaders support other Black girls. Suggestions as well as a list of ten guiding questions to help researchers, policymakers and practitioners continue to support developing Black girl leaders in middle school are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-24
Number of pages9
JournalMiddle School Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 14 2020


  • Black girls
  • early adolescence
  • leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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