Date of Graduation

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department/Program

Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Second Advisor

Ellen Herda

Third Advisor

Betty Taylor

Abstract

The entrepreneurial spirit of African American has been misunderstood. This dissertation used the voices of 15 African American entrepreneurs in Fresno County to reconstruct the historical development and performance of African American entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship developed from the necessity to survive; it was the outcome of deprivation, exclusion, and legal and political alienation. For African Americans, historical development and experience in entrepreneurship has been turbulent; understanding of African American entrepreneurship has been distorted with flawed theoretical constructs based on false premises of a lack of a tradition of business establishment and inadequate support for capitalism in African American communities.

Despite many constraints, African Americans have exhibited the same kind of entrepreneurial spirit as every other ethnic group; they have engaged and performed well in ethnic entrepreneurship. This was demonstrated through firsthand accounts of 15 African American business owners residing in Fresno County. Data were obtained through observations, dialogues, notes, and comprehensive face-to-face interviews. The words of the participants revealed that a number of African American aspiring entrepreneurs in Fresno County were successful despite daunting challenges. Their cultural resilience enabled them to survive through hard times and played a crucial role in the outcomes of their entrepreneurial efforts.

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