College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Who We Are

HBCUs, such as North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, have long been on the frontlines in the areas of civil and human rights, and are distinctively positioned to address social justice objectives theoretically via educational/academic platforms, as well as realistically through the offering of applied, “hands-on” research and training opportunities such as practicums and internships with local, national and international civic organizations and agencies. A&T’s rich civil rights history is reflected in the A&T Four. On February 1, 1960 in Greensboro, North Carolina, four A&T freshmen students, Ezell Blair, Jr. (Jibreel Khazan), Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond walked downtown and “sat-in” at the whites–only lunch counter at Woolworth’s. They refused to leave when denied service and stayed until the store closed, igniting a movement that sparked even more “sit-ins” around the nation. The movement eventually led to the passage of the 1964 civil rights bill and other major civil rights legislation. Like all HBCUs, N.C. A&T has been involved with civil rights and social justice since its inception. As a center that focuses on research and learning, the CESJ will position A&T to be a greater recognized leader in the social justice arena and catalyze reforms necessary to move the country forward. 

The Center of Excellence in Social Justice is aligned with the mission of the UNC System, which is “to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society.” The CESJ is a research and educational based center that will allow students to generate new discoveries through research, engagement and outreach. By pairing our students with faculty mentors associated with the center, the CESJ will foster collaborative action and innovation in the arenas of social, economic, and racial justice that will identify problems effecting marginalized communities and implement policy-based solutions. There are limitless possibilities to the problems that our research fellows can identify at the local, national, and global levels, but research topics would include policy-based solutions for environmental racism, closing the wealth gap, criminal justice reform, and the expansion of participatory democracy. Knowledge will not only be disseminated in the classroom and on campus, but also through publications, presentations, and other forms of outreach.