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Black Studies


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 Studies minor.

Faculty Affiliates      Staff      Alumni     Courses

Faculty Affiliates 

Leslie Anderson

Leslie A. Anderson, Ph.D.

  • Area of Expertise: Couple/marriage and family therapy; culturally responsive therapy practices; processes of racial socialization in Black American families; qualitative research methodologies


Meet Leslie A. Anderson

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

Andrew Gutkowski, Ph.D.

  • Area of Expertise: Environmental Justice, African American History, U.S. South


Meet Andrew Gutkowski 

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.


Photo of Valencia Walls


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

Meet 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.


Photo of Mario Marset


Mario Marset, '20

• Major:  Sociology
• Hometown: Sevilla, Spain
• Currently: Pursuing an M.Sc. in International Migration and Public Policy at the London School of Economics


Perceptions of Race and Ethnicity in Immigration

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. 

Read Mario's Q&A

Alyssa Bass Photo

Alyssa Bass, ’20  

• Major: News-Editorial Journalism 
• Hometown: Monroe, Louisiana
• Current Position: Product Engagement Coordinator, Mississippi Today; former intern at PBS FRONTLINE


Journalist Alumna Takes on History to Tell Stories of Black People 

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.

Read Alyssa's Q&A


Jonathan Puckett Photo

Jonathan Puckett, ’20  

• Major / Minor: English, History / Black Studies
• Graduation Date: Spring 2020
• Current Education: Pursuing a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
• Current Position: Graduate assistant in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library


Aspiring Archivist Chooses Minor to Bring Unheard Narratives to the Forefront

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.

Read Jonathan's Q&A



Fall 2023

BLKS 301

Introduction to Black Studies

Dr. Sherita Johnson | BLKS 301

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. 

Spring 2022 

The Red Record: Lynching, Literature, and Black Flesh in the Press

The Red Record: Lynching, Literature, and Black Flesh in the Press 

Drs. Sherita Johnson & Cheryl Jenkins
HON 303 H002    |  TR 2:30 – 3:15

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 Service-Learning in Black Studies

Dr. Cheryl Jenkins 
11 a.m. Tu/Thur

Scholastic ChoicesBLKS 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.   


Contact Us

Center for Black Studies

118 College Dr. Box #5037
Hattiesburg, MS 39406


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