Rural communities in the Southern US are shaped by a legacy of racial oppression carried out through educational systems, in tandem with contemporary policies that perpetuate the marginalization of minoritized students. In this qualitative, revelatory case study, we examine the experiences of rural, southern school leaders who are tasked with ensuring educational equity. Using critical place-based leadership and bonding/bridging theory, we examine the social construction of belonging in a rural southern community, and the implications for equity-centered educational leadership. We find the community maintains tight-knit bonding capital that is rooted in land ownership and racial exclusion, which is conceptualized as southernness. Educational leaders who develop bridging capital were best positioned to shift community perceptions necessary to enact educational equity.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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