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Volume 50, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0034-527X
  • E-ISSN: 1943-2348


This article explores how the sociohistorical context mandates literacy and education for AfricanAmerican persons living in a small community (“Pinesville”) in the rural U.S. South. Applying a sociocultural lens to literacy, the narrative perspective proposed is used to assert that literacy experiences are historically continuous, and rooted in shared cultural beliefs that have existed for African Americans since slavery. Such a perspective also apprehends an individual’s life history narratives as culturally saturated and situated within collective “frames of memory” (Brockmeier,2002, p. 24). Through the presentation of data poems for Miss Sally Harris, I argue that Miss Sally’s literacy experiences reflect a collective, cultural commitment to using literacy for self-determination, creating new opportunities for oneself and others, and preparing persons to use literacy for societal participation. I then link these beliefs to three mandates for literacy and education within Pinesville: (1) using literacy and education to determine one’s life course; (2)forging intellectual and social pathways through literacy and education; and (3) facilitating others’education and preparing persons to use literacy for “the dominating culture’s institutions” (Harris ,1992, p. 276). I conclude by asserting the significance of life history and data poems for conducting person-centered literacy research. I contend that within communities like Pinesville, literacy and education exist synergistically and can be useful for addressing issues of equity and access.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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