Dissertation Title and Summary

Black Power and the Organizing Tradition: Working Women of Washington, D.C., 1965-1990

My dissertation is a historical study of the Black Power Movement in Washington, D.C. between 1965 and 1990. This social-political history is guided by the following research question: how might we deepen our understandings of the Black Power Movement’s efforts to make America a more politically democratic and socially just society, if the political and social organizing activity of black working women is centered? In pursuit of these understandings, I examine political activities, theorizing, and results of black women’s activism in Washington, D.C. for Black Power that centered on community and political organizing activity between 1965 and 1990. It is a study grounded in new, raw, primary source material, which I gather, and the oral histories of black women activists themselves.


Donelle Boose is a freelance historian, an adjunct faculty member in American University’s Department of Critical Race, Gender, & Culture Studies, and a Ph.D. candidate in the field of U.S. History at American University. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in African American Studies, and a Master’s degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University.

In the past 10 years, Donelle has worked in academia at Cornell University, American University, and Montgomery College. She has also worked extensively in the field of nonprofit youth development in the Washington, D.C. area. She has been a scholarship recipient scout, academic tutor, group facilitator, curricula designer, workshop leader, and independent researcher. Her passion is research, writing, and facilitating conversations in and among communities about the past, so that we might all better understand our common humanity. Her research and writing were most recently featured in the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s online web resource titled: Talking about Race.

Donelle’s current research centers on the social justice and political movement of Black Power, particularly its contours, effects, and legacies in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond. She is the creator of The Self Determined Podcast which is available for free on all major streaming platforms. Here’s the link: