Date of Award

Fall 1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Whitney McIntyre Miller, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Margaret Grogan, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sandra Alavarez, Ph.D.


Following the U.S. presidential race of 2016, large numbers of women—particularly women of color—made the decision to run for political office for the first time at both the national and local levels. It is imperative that these women’s campaigns and victories are studied as a means to resist essentialism and honor the unique perspectives and histories of the voices of women of color in these political roles—roles highly underrepresented in literature and society at large. This dissertation focused on the victory speeches of 48, first-time, California city council, elected women of color (EWOC) with the aim of understanding their campaigns and their vision for the future of their cities. The findings were coded using qualitative content analysis to create emergent themes and then analyzed using the three components of the feminist of color multidimensional lens: (a) women of color as an identity formation, (b) the radical political project or the vision, and (c) the methodology or the enactment of the feminist of color political identity. Three main themes emerged from the analysis of victory speeches, which together revealed the EWOC’s campaigns were built with an inclusive voice that created a community vision for the future, bolstered by robust coalitional support systems. Through their victory speeches, the EWOC city council members in California demonstrated the need for representation as the driving force to enter politics, and the desire for community and collaboration to sustain their efforts. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of implications for increasing civic engagement, how to grow participation in local organizing, incorporating global perspectives into educational leadership fields, and recommendations for future research.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Friday, January 20, 2023