Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Environmental and Public Affairs

First Committee Member

E. L. Bernick

Second Committee Member

Sonya D. Horsford

Third Committee Member

Chris Stream

Fourth Committee Member

Barbara Brents

Number of Pages



The role of a mayor is integral within local governance. Their leadership and influence directly effectuates outcomes for the cities over which they preside. For big city mayors, their impact extends beyond local government and into the national policy arena. The way an individual demonstrates the role of mayor can be influenced by his/her perception of their own identity. However, within the realm of academic research dedicated to mayoral leadership and African Americans in politics, Black female mayors have largely been ignored. In particular, there are no known attempts at investigating the intersection of race and gender in understanding Black women as mayors. Perceptions of their lived experiences as mayors, relative to their racial and gendered identities is the focus of this research.

Through the use of Phenomenological research methods, this qualitative study answers the question, how do Black women big city mayors perceive their racial and gendered identities impacting their experiences as mayor? The participants selected in this study are the only six individuals in our nation's history to have been the first Black women to serve as mayor in the category of the 100 largest U.S. cities. Face to face, in depth interviews provide data from which to analyze their perceptions.

Phenomenological analyses, assists in arriving at thematic conclusions to aide in understanding experiences of identity unique to Black women mayors. The research uncovered nine themes that were then synthesized into three dimensions: Experience, Intersectionality, and Legacy. How each of the six mayors dealt with the issues surrounding the intersection of race and gender was shaped by contextual factors.


African American women; Black; Group identity; Identity (Psychology); Intersectionality; Mayors; Metropolitan areas; Phenomenological; Phenomenology; Women; Women mayors


Political Science | Public Administration | Public Policy | Urban Studies and Planning | Women's Studies

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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