Mathematics Literacy, Identity Resilience, and Opportunity Sixty Years Since Brown v. Board

Counternarratives of a Five-Generation Family




mathematics achievement, literacy, social justice, mathematics identity


In this chapter, the authors use Black Feminist Thought (BFT) to examine the mathematics education and the educational attainment of African American females in a matrilineal line that spans five generations. A cross analysis of school experiences, from a maternal great-great-grandmother to her great-great-granddaughter, reveal a portrait of segregation, desegregation, and resegregation. The impact of these educational contexts on the mathematics literacy and mathematics identity of four African American women and the hope and promise of a young girl in the class of 2026 are also presented. From sharecropper schools in Mississippi to prestigious universities in the eastern United States, the challenges and successes of one family’s struggle to obtain mathematics literacy and the American dream are discussed through the historical lens of Brown v. Board of Education. Using this historical context, the specific experiences of these five family members encourage a dialogue about a larger narrative—the mathematics attainment of all Black children.


Author Biographies

  • Jacqueline Leonard, University of Wyoming

    Professor University of Wyoming

  • Erica N. Walker, Teachers College, Columbia University

    Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University

  • Victoria R. Bloom, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia; University of Jamestown

    Adjunct Professor University of Sciences in Philadelphia and University of Jamestown in North Dakota

  • Nicole M. Joseph, Vanderbilt University

    Assistant Professor Vanderbilt University


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How to Cite

Mathematics Literacy, Identity Resilience, and Opportunity Sixty Years Since Brown v. Board: Counternarratives of a Five-Generation Family . (2020). Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 13(1B), 12–37.

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