Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Andre Johnson

Committee Member

Antonio de Velasco

Committee Member

Katherine Hendrix

Committee Member

Steven Nelson


Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been a central institution to the sociopolitical progress of the Black community towards freedom and liberation. Despite the centrality of HBCUs within Black upward mobility, limited attention has been paid to the discourses that takes place at these sites by rhetorical scholars. Equally important, rhetorical interventions on the rhetoric of the nations first Black President, Barack H. Obama, at HBCUs has also been overlooked. Thus, the purpose of this dissertation is to determine the rhetorical construction of HBCU commencement rhetoric and Obamas rhetorical invention. To approach these inquiries, I conduct a rhetorical analysis of Obamas HBCU commencement speeches at Hampton University, Morehouse College, and Howard University during his presidency. More specifically, I employ a conceptual mixture of genre criticism, Afrocentric method, and a close reading to interrogate Obamas commencement speeches. I contend that by studying the rhetorical construction of HBCU commencement rhetoric and Obamas rhetorical invention will provide pathways forward for administrators and academic practitioners, particularly at PWIs, to support Black student retention and graduation rates and other issues related to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI). Next, this project will highlight more insights into Black communal exigencies that deals with values, meaning and understanding, identity, and authority. Lastly, this project helps us understand not only Obama but also other Black politicians in their role helping the Black community achieve liberation in this country.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest