Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies

Upcoming Events

Summer 2021 Study Abroad to Rwanda

January 26, 2021, 7:00pm, on Zoom: 

Dr. James E. Waller

“Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing"
Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College. Author of two of the most influential books in genocide studies published this century -- Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing (2002) and Confronting Evil: Engaging Our Responsibility to Prevent Genocide (2016) -- and, most recently, A Troubled Sleep: Risk and Resilience in Contemporary Northern Ireland (2020).
He serves on the board of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism, has served as editor-in-chief of Genocide Studies and Prevention, and is an honorary member of the International Expert Team of the Institute for Research of Genocide-Canada. Waller is also widely recognized for his work on intergroup relations and prejudice.  
Important report written by Dr. Waller in late October 2020: "The Escalating Risk of Mass Violence in the United States"
Co-sponsored by Appalachian State University's Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies and Queens University's Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice

Information about our Minor,

including lists of Spring 2021 classes


We must look at ourselves and our institutions and fight for immediate, transformative change.

June 1, 2020

The public lynching of George Floyd, the hunting down and lynching of Ahmaud Aubrey, the murder in her own home of Breonna Taylor, and the knowledge that countless similar atrocities are never recorded or brought to light: There are no words to convey the horrors of these crimes or to adequately tell the tale of the centuries-old genocidal history of racism and white supremacy in this land.

We are grief-stricken and enraged by these atrocities. We are also humbled and do not believe that self-aggrandizing or vague statements are needed. It is more worthwhile to challenge one's own practices and culture, to take immediate and meaningful action, and to elevate and amplify voices that need to be heard. 

- On campuses thoughout the country, workers in housekeeping, maintenance, dining services, and other occupations who are indispensable members of our campus communities -- workers who are predominantly African-American and other peoples of color -- are exploited and demeaned, and denied a collective voice. 

- Rather than serving their presumed mission to the public good, universities devise creative ways to extract more money from their students and more labor from their staff and faculty.

- The coronavirus crisis has disproportionately affected Black people yet our universities rush toward decisions for Fall 2020 without concern for, or serious consultation with, African-American faculty and students and with even less concern for our underpaid workers in housekeeping, maintenance, groundskeeping – and at many universities dining services has been contracted out to corporations with poor records for wages and working conditions.

While cutting budgets for education and relying on low-paid adjunct professors to teach most classes, the UNC system found $2.5 million to give a white-supremacist group a few months ago. UNCC's "Jerry Richardson Stadium" may be slightly less egregious but is a constant reminder of misplaced priorities and values and of the many ways in which Anti-Blackness is reinforced every second of the day.

- For many decades, American universities have entered alliances with military and police forces that violate the human rights of peoples of color and other oppressed groups not only at home, but around the world.

A long list of such outrages would be easy to draft.

African Americans suffer disproportionately from these practices and policies.  UNC Charlotte and other universities must confront these issues and immediately make real changes if they presume to care about Black lives. 

This is a time for action and also a time for listeningwhich can itself be a form of action and an impetus to deeper commitment.

Please listen to these voices:

UNCC's Department of Africana Studies

"George Floyd,  Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Jordan-Davis, Yahira Nesby, Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley-Jones, Korryn Gaines, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr, Keith Lamont Scott ... and those whose names we may not know. Asè

As faculty of the Africana Studies Department, we say their names in honor of their humanity  and to call attention to the intersection of Blackness, state sanctioned violence, anti-Blackness  and structural violence. The above-named individuals among countless others - including those  we lost during the Atlantic Slave Trade, Jim Crow terrorism, and the expansion of the carceral  state - have all been taken from our communities as a result of colluding ideologies of violence  and white supremacy. The collusion results in Diasporic African descended individuals living  with perpetual structural violence.

This must end!

The Africana Studies Department is committed to the liberation of African descended people. As scholars and community members we commit ourselves to resisting militarized policing, theneoliberalization of public goods and services, lack of accountability from elected officials, and patterns of racial inequality in all forms. We stand in solidarity with Black protestors and allies who demand substantive change, the type of change that recognizes the humanity of African-descended people, and the abolition of systems of oppression.

We bring together our collective efforts to facilitate a dialogue on how as a community we engage in substantive actions to end racism and structural violence—violence that stretches beyond the institution of policing and what Angela Davis refers to as the Prison Industrial Complex, but that is also in our schools, our health care systems and even our institutions of higher education.

To that end, we will host monthly on-line forums starting June 17 at 2 p.m. EST. To join our discussion, send your name and email to:

Join us as we do the work to achieve a more just and equitable society."

"Equity in 2020 Requires More Than a Diversity Statement"

Chronicle of Higher Education, June 7

"...For Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and students of color, assembling in person is often the only way to voice urgent equity concerns to institutions of power. Campus-based activism is vital to those groups. Yet in-person assembly and protest in the midst of a pandemic add an infection risk to already marginalized students. If an institution fails to hear their equity concerns now, those students will be forced to physically assemble on the campus in ways that further expose them and their families to disease.

The horrifying killing of George Floyd — and so many other Black victims of police and state violence — has already forced Black people to protest in the streets under dangerous conditions. But in academe, we have a better and safer way to give space and voice to our students. At this critical juncture, senior administrators can either be part of the solution or part of the problem.

How, then, can institutions deal with the threat to assembly presented by Covid-19, and demonstrate a real commitment to equity and diversity? How can senior leaders move beyond tweeting statements of solidarity, and instead start ensuring that Black, Indigenous, and other students of color are actually protected on campuses?..."

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Here are some links to local organizations that are helping folks who are being hit the hardest during the COVID-19 crisis.

Updated on August 6 (2020): Loaves & Fishes is looking for a few more volunteers to deliver food.

Migrant Solidarity Fund: Mutual Aid and Emergency Assistance

Urban Promise    /  Project 658  /  Project Bolt

 OurBridge  /  The Bulb  /  Block Love  / Heal Charlotte

From Time Out Youth, a great local organization that assists & empowers LGBTQ youth:

  • To view Charlotte Pride's article how LGBTQ orgs in Charlotte are responding to COVID-19 click here.
  • Charlotte Pride has also created a Facebook Group to connect community members.
  • To view Equality NC's compiled list of resources available in North Carolina click here.


March 2020: HGHR steering committee members John Cox and Amal Khoury, with long-time HGHR professor Dr. Sarah Minslow, are publishing a book on genocide-denial, based on our April 2019 conference

Denial: the Final Stage of Genocide? will be published in early 2021 and include contributions from well-established as well as emerging scholars. 

More about the Center's research here

Dr. Susan Cernyak-Spatz

July 27, 1922 - November 17, 2019

Dr. Cernyak-Spatz speaking at UNCC on November 9, 2016. Photo: CDK GLOBAL

Our Center only exists because of Dr. Cernyak-Spatz's work, vision, and inspiration over the course of her many years at UNCC. She left us late last year after an extraordinary 97 years.

The family respectfully requests that donations be made in her memory to a fund established to sustain “German Studies 3650: The Holocaust through German Literature and Film,” a seminar Dr. Cernyak-Spatz created and taught for decades. How to give.

News articles about Dr. Cernyak-Spatz, who laid the foundations for Holocaust Studies and for our Center, and links to interviews and other resources


Higher Peace Facebook group




Many of us are settlers, immigrants, or descendants of those forcefully brought to this continent. We must recognize, and never forget, that we occupy the traditional territory of the Catawba as well as the Cheraw, Waxhaw, and other Carolina Siouan communities. Out of respect for the histories and human rights of Indigenous peoples. It is our collective responsibility to interrogate this colonial history, to recognize that colonialism and genocide of local indigenous peoples continues to this day, and to protect and sustain this land. 

More about land acknowledgments