Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Division of Resource Economics & Management

Committee Chair

Peter Schaeffer

Committee Co-Chair

Melissa Sherfinski

Committee Member

Alan Collins

Committee Member

Deborah A. Boone

Committee Member

Daniel Eades


A lot of work has been done in the field of community development targeting less developed communities. Many questions have also been raised about why some communities are not as responsive to change as others, despite the efforts and recommendations. This dissertation, therefore, is a critical attempt on how to develop a specific, marginalize, and segregated neighborhood, using residents’ historical narratives and worldviews in Westside, Fairmont, West Virginia. The author uses focus group discussions, informal communications, and semi-structured interviews as primary data sources. He analyzed the manuscript of W.O. Armstrong, the pioneer principal of Dunbar School, which was an All-Black school serving the neighborhood as a secondary data source. The research also uses critical theory framework because of its concern with ontology, epistemology, and methodology of reality (Crotty, 2012) to explore the narratives of race, segregation, and desegregation in the Westside community.

The results of this research include systemic discrimination in education, employment, social, economic, and infrastructural development; fractured relationships between residents, city, organizations, and associations; and lack of purposeful leadership as when Dunbar School was in the community. The study, therefore, fills a gap in the development literature by contributing both a critical and specific and situated perspective into how to develop a marginalized neighborhood.