Date of Award

August 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Urban Studies

First Advisor

Amanda I. Seligman

Committee Members

Decoteau J. Irby, William Vélez


Milwaukee, Schools, Urban


Howard Fuller, a long-time community activist born in Shreveport, Louisiana and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has become a nationally renowned advocate for school choice. Coming from humble beginnings, Fuller learned from his tight-knit community growing up that he could be anything he wanted to be if he worked hard enough and focused on his education. Wanting future generations of black Americans to have the same opportunities he had, Fuller would dedicate his life work to uplifting his people through education. How Fuller approached that work, however, led to seemingly contradicting approaches and ideas. This thesis attempts to make sense of Howard Fuller's life and activism, and explain how his choices and activism evolved over time. From fighting for integrating schools in Cleveland, Ohio, to opening an all-black university in Durham, North Carolina, to becoming superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, Howard Fuller has shifted his tactics on how to provide low-income blacks with quality educational opportunities. All of Fuller's work has led him to now, fighting for school choice as a way to give low-income blacks a chance to earn the best education possible. At seventy-one years old Howard Fuller is still fighting, and still working to uplift his race and improve their life chances. Howard Fuller is a dedicated race man, and this thesis is his story.