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School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development

Black Studies


The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers for undergraduates a minor in Black Studies based on inquiries into a wide range of topics related to contemporary and historical experiences of peoples in Africa and the Black Diaspora. The minor reflects the dual focus of the Center for Black Studies. Students are expected to take courses related to Black Studies and also to complete a three-hour project that involves application of course material through an internship or service-learning project. The aim of the minor is to engage students in the Center and increase their knowledge, involvement, and critical awareness of race in the human experience. 

The minor in Black Studies requires eighteen (18) hours. Approved courses are classified into three broad areas (see below). Students will be required to complete two courses from Area 1, three courses from Area 2, and one course from Area 3. The courses in area 2 should be selected based on their relevance to the student’s major and/or career goals. Students must include courses from at least three separate disciplines in their minor. Up to six hours of credit may be double-counted as coursework for the student's major.

AREA 1: Historical Foundations (6 Hours)

HIS 307 - Survey of African History, 1500-present
HIS 373 - African American History Survey, 1619-1890
HIS 374 - African American History Survey, 1890-present

AREA 2: Black Studies Across the Disciplines (9 Hours)

ANT 313 - Peoples and Cultures of Africa
ANT 334 - Archaeology of the Old South
ANT 494 - Topics in Caribbean Studies
CIE 410 - Foundations in Multicultural Education
CIS 410 - Multicultural Education
ENG 312 - Postcolonial Literature
ENG 313 - Survey of Multiethnic Literature
ENG 372 - African-American Literature
ENG 410 - Studies in Ethnic Literature
ENG 411 - Studies in Postcolonial Literature
ENG 412 - Studies in African Literature
ENG 473 - Studies in African American Literature
ENG 496 - Caribbean Literature
GHY 402 - Geography of Middle America and the Caribbean
GHY 406 - Geography of Africa
HIS 411 - The Caribbean and Central America
HIS 445 - Racial Thought in the Western World
HIS 467 - The Colonial South
HIS 468 - The Old South
HIS 478 - Topics in African American History
HIS 498 - Topics in Jamaican History
MCJ 489 - Caribbean Mass Media Systems
PS 303 - American Political Movements
PS 402 - Urban Politics
PS 459 - Human Rights
PSY 413 - Multicultural Counseling
SWK 315 - Human Diversity in a Changing World
SOC 350 - Race and Ethnicity
SOC 355 - Collective Behavior and Social Movements

*The above listing suggests a range of available courses to complete the Black Studies minor. Other courses may be substituted at the discretion of the Director or Associate Director of the Center for Black Studies. Students should check SOAR for an updated list of classes being offered each term.

AREA 3: Application of Knowledge (3 Hours)

All students minoring in Black Studies will be required to fulfill a three-hour requirement that incorporates application of material learned in classes. This requirement will typically be fulfilled by registering for an independent study or practicum course under the supervision of the Director, Associate Director, or affiliated faculty of the Center for Black Studies. The content of the class will involve active learning in one of two ways: an internship with a local agency, institution, or business related to the broad field of Black Studies OR an academic service-learning project in which the student utilizes his or her expertise to provide a service to the local community and create an academic product that reflects his or her effort.

Students must complete a minimum of three courses towards the Black Studies minor before fulfilling the Area 3 requirement. When eligible, students will register for an independent study or practicum course following consultation with the Director or Associate Director of the Center for Black Studies.

If a student is enrolled in another course that requires a substantial and relevant internship, academic service-learning project, or research endeavor, he or she may petition the Director of the Center for Black Studies to count that course for the Area 3 requirement.

For more information on the Black Studies Minor or advisement, please contact:

Sherita L. Johnson, Director of The Center of Black Studies and
Associate Professor, Department of English
118 College Drive #5037
Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001

Cheryl Jenkins, Associate Director of The Center of Black Studies and
Assistant Professor, School of Mass Communication and Journalism
118 College Drive #5121
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001


In 2005, the Center for Black Studies was established to affirm the university’s commitment of fulfilling its diversity initiatives. Southern Miss was desegregated in 1965 when Raylawni Branch and Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong became the first African-American students enrolled at the university. Fifty years of progress is evident in the wide-ranging programming, research, teaching, and service activities organized and supported by the Center for Black Studies. The mission of the Center is two-fold: to promote research and provide educational opportunities related to the history and culture of African Americans and the Black Diaspora and to facilitate connections between the University and the various social, political, and economic entities that address Black experiences.

Affiliate Faculty

Listing of affiliate faculty for Black Studies

Student Alliance

The Black Studies Student Alliance (BSSA) supports the academic pursuits of students interested in Black Studies as a minor, provides opportunities for student involvement in local communities, and represents the needs and interests of students to the Center for Black Studies. The BSSA is an organization that is open to any Southern Miss student—undergraduate and graduate—seeking a culturally rich supplement to their academic experience by becoming involved in the activities sponsored by the BSSA and the Center for Black Studies.

Destini Williams 
President, Black Studies Student Alliance Organization

Destini is a junior majoring in English with a Black Studies minor. She has been actively involved in BSSA for the past two years and she is also a member of the NAACP student group at Southern Miss. After graduation, Destini plans to attend graduate school possibly in English considering her interest in African American literature and teaching.


Since its establishment in 2005, the Center for Black Studies has sponsored programs featuring scholars, creative artists, and community activists as guest lecturers on wide-ranging topics relevant to the study of black people and race relations in general.

Notable Past Events

“From Demonstration to Legislation: Local Activism and the Legacy of the Voting Rights Act”

A community panel / dialogue commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The panel featured members of the Hattiesburg community who were actively involved in local and state-wide demonstrations calling for the passage of voting rights legislation and scholars whose work focuses on voting rights and voter disenfranchisement in the American South. The panel discussion was followed by a voter registration drive in Hattiesburg’s Mobile/Bouie area organized by the Black Studies Student Alliance.

"Desegregation at Southern Miss" featuring keynote address by Soledad O’Brien

“Freedom Day”

A re-enactment of the march on January 22, 1964 when groups of civil rights activists from across the country partnered with local Hattiesburg residents to challenge the discriminatory practices barring African Americans from voting in Forrest County, Mississippi.

“Freedom Summer Dialogues”

Monthly public forums (from February to May) about social and political challenges prevalent in the state of Mississippi and the nation at-large, fifty years ago and presently. Dr. Anthony Harris (local veteran of the civil rights movement) and Robert “Bob” Moses (Organizer, “Mississippi Summer Project” and SNCC Field Secretary) were featured guest speakers during the series.

“Freedom Summer 1964-2014 Conference”

A commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, when hundreds of volunteers came to Mississippi in 1964 launching a massive voter registration drive for African Americans. It featured keynote speakers Charles E. Cobb, Jr. (SNCC, Field Secretary and award-winning journalist) and civil rights historian Emilye Crosby (Geneseo College at SUNY), which appealed to a diverse collection of other scholars, activists, students, local citizens, and other professionals. Conference Facebook Page.

A special edition of The Southern Quarterly based on the Freedom Summer commemorative events at Southern Miss is available for purchase.

Poetry Reading & Workshop

Poet Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie visited the University of Southern Mississippi as part of a speaking tour for her book, Karma’s Footsteps (Flipped Eye Publishing, 2011). As a writer, educator, and performer, Ekere’s creative work on silence, sexism and racism appealed broadly to members of the University’s campus and the local community.

“The Help: Controversy and Mystique”

A panel discussion open to the USM campus and surrounding communities to address the impact of The Help (2011), a popular novel by Mississippian writer Kathryn Stockett.

“Black Power and Yellow Power”

A lecture and Q & A with Dr. Rychetta N. Watkins, Assistant Professor of English at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Watkins discussed her book, Black Power, Yellow Power, and the Making of Revolutionary Identities (University Press of Mississippi, 2012).

“Book Donations for Jamaican Youths”

Dr. Sherita L. Johnson (Associate Professor, Department of English) collected over 500 children's books (new and/or slightly used) to take to Jamaica as part of a service learning project with the Caribbean Studies Program. These books were donated to the Blossom Garden Child Care Facility, an orphanage in Montego Bay, Jamaica and the Granville Place of Safety for Girls in Trelawny, Jamaica.


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Long Beach, MS 39560

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Hattiesburg, MS 39406


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