Skip navigation

School of Social Science and Global Studies

Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Page Content

For students, faculty and others who believe in human rights for everyone, everywhere, without discrimination, the Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties provides a focal point through the exploration of major human rights issues in Mississippi, the U.S. and internationally. 

What do we do?

  • The Human Rights and Civil Liberties provides opportunities for joint ventures between the University community and human rights advocates, including law enforcement and social workers.
  • Projects from Human Rights and Civil Liberties are designed to enhance the quality of life of those who have been victims of right violations, as we debate issues including historical, social, political, cultural and economic processes and their effects on current events and reach new conclusions through comparative study.
  • Enhance our commitment to excellence in education through projects that prepare students to translate classroom knowledge into action in a variety of careers in the public and private sectors. 


Faculty Book

How Ordinary People Resist Repression without Violence

Ripples of Hope: How Ordinary People Resist Repression without Violence, by Dr. Bob Press, is the true story of mothers, students, teachers, journalists, attorneys, and others who courageously stood up for freedom and human rights against repressive rulers − and helped bring change. With few exceptions, they did it nonviolently. 

Students for Human Right

Unlike most Centers across the country, students are at the heart of our mission. You will serve as Center interns, take the human rights minor, and participate in Students for Human Rights (SHR). SHR is a student group that is committed to combatting social injustice issues that emerge on campus and in our community.

Kennedy Runnels


Although SHR has always been a smaller student group, it was amazing to see students on our campus stand up and care about social injustice.

Major: Political Science 
Minor: Women and Gender Studies
Class Year: 2021

"I'm actually from Hattiesburg, so when I transferred from Ole Miss to USM my sophomore year, it was important to me that I get involved and give back to the community I was raised in. Since joining SHR, I have served as Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President, and now President. This summer I watched as SHR grew in response to the death of George Floyd. Although SHR has always been a smaller student group, it was amazing to see students on our campus stand up and care about social injustice."


The Center has sponsored a range of campus events, including a two-day regional conference on human trafficking and public forums on immigration.

One of the top criminal activities in the world, human trafficking, was the focus the Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties' 4th conference, “Human Trafficking: Awareness and Action.”

USM's University Forum was the co-sponsor of the keynote talk by Jeanette Westbrook, a human rights advocate who serves on United Nations panels working to combat trafficking.

The conference’s Saturday panels featured presentations and commentary by law enforcement, social workers, and academicians, and human rights advocates will host training sessions for all interested in learning what they can do to stop trafficking.

"This terrible and illegal worldwide business of forced prostitution, known as human trafficking, has reached even Mississippi. Young females are held captive by traffickers, and in some cases, families sell their children for drug money. It has become one of the fastest-growing, illegal businesses globally," said Dr. Bob Press, associate professor of political science.


Students learned more about the subject of illegal immigration during a first-ever forum on campus that covered topics such as: sanctuary cities, detention procedures and English requirements for citizenship. The forum’s panelists included:

  • Charlie Wall, senior attorney for U.S. Immigration, Customs and Enforcement, New Orleans
  • Melinda Medina, a community organizer from Mississippi, formerly with the Mississippi Immigrants’ Rights Alliance
  • Carlos Ponce, consul of Mexico, New Orleans

Affiliated Minor

Human Rights Minor