Dissertation Title and Summary

From Black Lives Matter to We Don’t Even Matter: The Invisible Hand of Power on Social Movement Participation and Activism

My work investigates how Black people living in urban and primarily the rural South resist, coexist, and persist despite the historical legacies of slavery and the Jim Crow era.  Through qualitative studies of Black life, my research explores the historical and contemporary influences and impact on Black existence and Black activism. My core interests are encapsulated in a few basic questions. How does power impact Black advocacy and engagement in rural spaces? How do Black Americans thrive in their communities and outside of their communities? How do Black Americans engage in activism or advocate for their issues? Finally, how have the legacies of slavery and the Jim Crow era impacted present-day economics, politics, and religious perspectives of Black Americans?  Ultimately, my research answers the questions regarding activism and advocacy in primarily rural Black communities.  My work contributes to the broad field of Environmental Justice and Environmentalism by providing insights on networks, engagement and advocacy in Black rural communities in the South which have often been overshadowed by research focusing on environmental harms and issues impacting urban communities in large cities. 


Danielle Melvin Koonce is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology, University of Maryland, College Park.  Her research interests include Social Movements, Political Sociology, the Rural South and Race.  Prior to pursuing her doctoral degree, Danielle taught as a lecturer for the English Department at East Carolina University.  Danielle holds a Bachelor’s degree, and two Master’s degrees in English and Sociology respectively, from East Carolina University. 


Co-Author of article, “Renewable Ruses: Bioenergy Development in North Carolina’s Coastal Plains for Engaging Science, Technology, and Society (ESTS), 2023.

 Author of book review article titled, “Space Invaders: Thick and Other Essays,” by Tressie McMillan Cottom. Women’s Review of Books. October 2020.

 Co-Author of article, “On Transfer Student Success: Exploring the Academic Trajectories of Black Transfer Engineering Students from Community Colleges,” at American Society for Engineering Education, (ASEE) conference, June 2019

 Editing and Writing Contributor to Contexts, an American Sociological Association publication, 2016-2018

 Contributed several articles for the African American National Biography edited by Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Higginbotham, Oxford Press, 2008.

Contributed an article titled, “Missionary Movements, Imperialism & Christianity,” in From Around the Globe: Secular Authors and Biblical Perspectives, edited by Seodial Frank H. Deena and Karoline Szatek, University Press of America, 2007.