The Center for Black Studies strives for excellence in research and teaching. Faculty
affiliates have numerous publications in civil rights history, race in media, southern
cultural studies, Black musical traditions, educational inequality, Jim Crow politics,
gender studies, and African American literary studies. Affiliates develop popular
courses based on their interdisciplinary research that attract students to the Black
Faculty Affiliates Staff Alumni Courses
Leslie A. Anderson, Ph.D.
Leslie A. Anderson, Ph.D., LMFT is a Family Scientist, Family Therapist, and Assistant
Professor of Child and Family Sciences at The University of Southern Mississippi.
Dr. Anderson earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Science with an emphasis
in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Georgia. Her research broadly
focuses on Black American familial processes and specifically, their processes of
racial socialization. Her scholarship is rooted in a commitment to social justice
and undergirded by Critical Race Theory. In her clinical work, she is intentional
about practicing as a culturally responsive practitioner with underrepresented and
underserved groups. She has 10+ years of experience providing community and home-based
behavioral health services to impoverished and rural families in MS and GA.
Andrew Gutkowski, Ph.D.
Gutkowski is an Assistant Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, where
he teaches courses in Environmental Justice, Social Advocacy, and Black Studies. He
has a Ph.D. in History from the University of South Carolina (2020) with concentrations
in Modern U.S., African American, and Environmental History. His current book project
explores how post-war struggles over civil rights and industrial pollution in the
U.S. South shaped the uneven distribution of environmental hazards – toxic waste facilities,
Superfund sites, brownfields – that defines much of the region’s industrial landscape
today. His research has recently been published in The Journal of American History.
Being an affiliated staff with the Center for Black Studies will help to not only improve the services our office provides, but also offer the opportunity for collaborations on topics of mutual interest.Valencia Walls
A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Walls holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master of Education, both from USM. She has worked in student development for almost 20 years. Her career honors include the Outstanding Staff Award from the USM Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life; Outstanding Service Award from the Hattiesburg National Pan- Hellenic Council; Advisor of the Year Award by the USM Office of Leadership and Student Involvement; 2011 Greek Hall of Fame Inductee; Outstanding Service Award from the Southern Miss Alumni Association, and the John Hope Franklin Award from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc- Mu Gamma Lambda Chapter. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Mario Marset, '20
• Major: Sociology
For Mario Marset, ’20, Black Studies emphasized the importance of exploring the ways in which perception of race and ethnicity may be determinants for outcome differences for immigrants, including asylum seekers and other displaced communities.
Alyssa Bass, ’20
• Major: News-Editorial Journalism
For Alyssa Bass, ’20, Black Studies emphasized the importance of learning history, framing Black people as change agents, and recognizing everyone in the African Diaspora.
Jonathan Puckett, ’20
• Major / Minor: English, History / Black Studies
Jonathan Puckett, ’20, was writing his Honors thesis on the literature of Pauline Hopkins, an African American writer and activist-intellectual from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Naturally, the Black Studies minor enhanced his thesis by grounding it in existing scholarly discussions.
We will survey the development of Black Studies as an academic discipline, its origins and evolution. Concentrating on the culture and history of people of African descent, we will discuss developments of ancient civilizations in Africa, the effects of colonization and the transatlantic slave trade, and the fluidity of a diasporic consciousness. Contemporary issues relating to Black people will be integrated into our studies. An analytical concern for intersectionality (the convergence of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, disability, etc.) to construct “black” identities will also be central to our studies. Critical race theory is therefore important to frame our work. Overall, BLKS 301 serves as a required, foundational course for the Black Studies minor to launch the exploration of black experiences in other related courses. BLKS 301 is open to students of any major and/or minor concentration.
This course will examine narratives of racial terrorism in African American literature and journalism from 1880-1910. We will focus on writings that address the problem of "race"—how ideologies of white supremacy threaten Black citizenship—and the rampant racial violence that targeted African Americans especially in the Deep South as meticulously covered in the pages of Black publications (as compared also to coverage in white publications). With emphasis on the life and legacy of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, we will study her anti-lynching campaign as promoted in her series of publications: Southern Horrors (1892), A Red Record (1895) and Mob Rule in New Orleans (1900). Students will also conduct archival research in newspaper databases to understand better the spectacle of public lynchings in America during the early days of Jim Crow segregation.
*This course is open only to students enrolled in the Honors College.
BLKS 491 is designed to examine how knowledge and community are intertwined by theoretical and practical means. Specifically, the course provides an opportunity for students to engage in a community service-learning project with a local agency that focuses on social, cultural and/or economic empowerment. Community service is a key component in the Black Studies discipline. In the article Theorizing Black Studies (2004) James Jennings states that community service "focuses on changing system-based and dominant/subordinate social and economic relations and improving living conditions for Black people and, thereby, other communities."
The Spring 2022 agency is Twin Forks Rising Community Development Corporation in Hattiesburg.