Purdue University Graduate School
Broughton Dissertation_final Submission.pdf (5.12 MB)

Exploring Kinship Systems: The Retention of Black Undergraduate Students at HBCUs

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posted on 2022-04-29, 20:00 authored by Kimberly N BroughtonKimberly N Broughton


Traditional kinship systems involve the organization of individuals who are biologically connected. However, such systems have evolved beyond bloodlines to incorporate individuals that are biologically unassociated but operate in familial-like roles due to shared spaces and/or experiences. Historically, kinship systems or cultural networks have functioned as the cornerstone of survival for those of the Black lived experience. From the days of legalized human chattel slavery to present-day movements seeking justice for the minoritized, the foundation of kinship was typically built through the local church, the assumed maternal positions by Black women, Black secret societies and more. They each served, and continue to serve, as a means for survival and success against a systemically oppressive society. This study explores the notion and existence of kinship systems at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). It specifically examines how fictive kinships through the lens of faculty-student dynamics, religion, and social activities, potentially influences the academic experience of Black students at HBCUs that currently have an above average retention rate. As America’s educational institution has lacked diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity for Black people for countless years, the primary mission of this study was to amplify Black student voices which have traditionally been suppressed. A supplemental goal of this study was to offer Black students tools for introspection that will aid them in navigating possible barriers to (post) educational success. In turn, this study gives insight to predominantly white institutions of higher learning on how to positively enhance the experience and retention of Black students, and the overall structure of diversity and inclusion on campus.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Thomas Rickert

Additional Committee Member 2

Jennifer Bay

Additional Committee Member 3

Marlo D. David

Additional Committee Member 4

Rosusan D. Bartee