Purpose: This article explores the expressed thoughts and feelings of 24 research participants who processed and articulated their lived experiences. They each attended the same private, religious, historically, and predominantly White institution and participated in a three-credit course that covered the history of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and '60s, which culminated in an experience in Georgia and Alabama (Civil Rights experience). Methods: In this phenomenological study, the research participants all participated in a semi-structured interview with the same bank of questions. The questions were designed to examine their lived experiences, within the context of participating in the Civil Rights experience and attending the private, religious, historically and predominantly White institution. A phenomenological narrative inquiry employed a specific content analysis approach in conjunction with a constant comparative method to conduct open, axial, and selective coding. Findings: Research participants discussed their reactions to and perceptions of experiences with racial differences, and researchers identified themes that provided perspective on the broader category of racial differences: white spaces, assimilation, stereotypes, microaggressions, and racism. Implications: High-impact programming, such as the Civil Rights experience, may encourage the implementation of measures to foster institutional cultural humility, such as initiating important dialogue and accountability measures between the institution and the students. Racial Battle Fatigue can help both students and institutional personnel identify and interpret racialized experiences. A high-impact "critical experience" may also provide students with the knowledge, experiences, and vocabulary to reckon with racial realities and process their private, religious, predominantly white institution experience.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


Document Type





higher education, black students, predominately white institution, race, religion



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Education Commons