Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Claire Halverson


The purpose of this study is to determine how the international human rights and civil rights frameworks may be utilized in achieving equal status relations for the African-American community. In addition, the objective of this research is to illustrate clear definitions of both frameworks used by African-Americans, focusing on two specific variables: socioeconomic status (SES) and educational attainment. Both models are examined, compared and studied to highlight their strengths and weaknesses using a mixed-methods approach of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. For the purposes of this study, the specific timeframe in which data was collected and analyzed is limited to the years preceding and following the signing and adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by the United States.

The findings reveal that both models are indeed founded upon human rights that serve the purpose of addressing societal problems faced by the African-American community. However, civil rights are solely defined by the nation-state, while the specific interpretation and implementation of minority rights lies within international tribunals or agencies. Civil rights models are based on the assumption that all citizens are the same, and these rights take into account the systematic discrimination faced by non-African-Americans. The international minority rights framework, on the other hand, recognizes the shared history of national minorities, while attempting to address and offer innovative alternatives to African-Americans facing socioeconomic and political discrimination. This study establishes that though there have been significant advancements since the 1960s, especially in the area of educational attainment, African-Americans are not living the promised “American dream” when compared to their European-American counterpart.


Inequality and Stratification | Race and Ethnicity