Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies


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 will not produce a self-aggrandizing, vague proclamation. We believe 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. We also believe in using language with precision and using terms like "police brutality" and "racist terrorism."

- On our campus and other UNC campuses, 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, including UNCC, 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. A very very long list, which will continue to grow as long as our universities are dominated by neoliberal corporate values and interests. 

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 claim to care about Black lives. 

This is a time for action and also a time for listening, which 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."


"Strike4BlackLives Call To Action – June 10"

"... We recognize that our academic institutions and research collaborations — despite big talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion — have ultimately failed Black people. Demands for justice have been met with gradualism and tokenism, as well as diversity and inclusion initiatives that — while sometimes well-intentioned — have had little meaningful impact on the lived experiences of Black students, staff, researchers, and faculty. Black representation among physics faculty is non-existent at most institutions, and it is widely known that Black students often feel unwelcome, unsupported, and even unsafe in their physics departments and predominantly white campuses.

Anti-Blackness is pervasive throughout academia, and the number of students and faculty in particle physics and other subfields make this very clear. Moreover, anti-Blackness affects all aspects of Black peoples’ lives. 

.... We are not calling for more diversity and inclusion talks and seminars. We are not asking people to sit through another training about implicit bias. We are calling for every member of the community to commit to taking actions that will change the material circumstances of how Black lives are lived — to work toward ending the white supremacy that not only snuffs out Black physicist dreams but destroys whole Black lives."...


"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?..."

Full text


Our Center for HGHR Studies is launching a student journal & website devoted to the study of racism and white supremacy, with the explicit aim of assisting the dismantlement of institutionalized white power and racism. More information very soon.

Our new journal & site will not be able to overturn the deep-seated, systemic inequalities that make it possible, in the year 2020, for atrocities such as the public lynchings of George Floyd and Ahmaud Aubrey to continue. Yet we hope it makes a small contribution, and helps empower young people to envision and fight for a decent society and world.





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

Migrant Solidarity Fund: Mutual Aid and Emergency Assistance

Urban Promise    /  Project 658  /  Project Bolt

 OurBridge  /  The Bulb  /  Block Love 

Refugee Council USA: Covid-19 Resources

COVID-19 Resources for Undocumented Communities

From Time Out Youth, 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.

To help UNCC students: 

"The UNC Charlotte Emergency Relief Fund helps current students by providing financial support when they need assistance with unexpected, unforeseen and unavoidable emergency expenses....

"The Jamil Niner Student Pantry provides assistance to UNC Charlotte students who struggle with food insecurities."




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


HGHR steering committee members John Cox and Amal Khoury, with long-time HGHR professor Dr. Sarah Minslow, have sigend a contract with Routledge to co-edit a book on genocide-denial, based on our April 2019 conference.

Denial: the Final Stage of Genocide? will be published in late 2020 and include contributions from well-established as well as emerging scholars. 

More about the Center's research here.

Higher Peace Facebook group


Information about our Minor, including lists of Summer/Fall 2020 classes


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Denial: The Final Stage of Genocide

First International Conference of the Center of Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies

The conference was attended by more than 130 people, including scholars and activists from 12 countries. A conference-proceedings book will be published in 2020, and we are working with colleagues in Sarajevo to hold a second conference on "denial" in June 2020.