For my father,
Clyde Russell Dillard, Sr. (1924-2003).
Thank you for your wisdom and model of perseverance.
I pray that I have done you proud.
And to my children,
Tyrone, Yndia, and Derrick
I hope I have lit the path well.
This project is a direct outcome of the lessons I have learned about social injustice, inequality, and the human imperative to protect people on the fringe. My thanks are many, they are heartfelt, and they will never be adequate. Giving thanks first to God, I am humbled that I would be gifted with such an opportunity as this one. My gratitude overflows.
In this journey, I encountered many amazing individuals without whom this project would not be possible. To my official and unofficial team of readers, writing assistants, language editors, technical editors, and proofreaders, thank you for providing insight and expertise that greatly assisted me in reframing my thinking about the stories I wanted to tell: Alan Oxman, Dr. Cudore Snell, Florence Francis, Dr. Jeff Longhofer, Dr. Jerry Floersch, Johan Peters, TeeSa Banks, Marcus Jones, Nia Tuckson, and Dr. Richard Miller, although they may not agree with all of the interpretations/opinions herein. A warm thanks to my editors, the great Chad Robertson and Dorothy Pollack and who spent months revising and reshaping the narrative. Their contributions were invaluable.
There have been many significant changes in my life since I began this journey in 2013. My cohort (especially Gladys, Kara, and Widian) and the administrators at Rutgers (especially Jacob Suskewicz) have been anchors of stability when I felt like my world was crumbling around me. Your constant encouragement and inspiration has consistently pulled me through those tough moments.
A special thanks to my family and friends. Words cannot express how grateful I am to you all for not guilting me when I turned down countless offers to socialize simply because I was too tired mentally and physically.
I am especially grateful to my employer and my staff to whom I owe a tremendous debt. Your willingness to allow me to sacrifice work time to focus on my studies provided the opportunity for me to accomplish my goals. I appreciate you all more than you know.
Last, but certainly not least, to Dr. John L. Monroe Jr. Your support and unremitting belief in me sustained my motivation and focus, even when my belief in myself faltered. You are and will always be my muse. You are a reminder that real success is not just about talent— it is about surviving and consistency. Real success is about being a visionary, having a huge appetite for the win! And more importantly, it’s about being willing to build people up and bring people up with you—you are and will always be the love of my life and I am better in every way because of you.