Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



The conception of human rights is one that is enshrined within the shared, collective history of humanity. Encompassing secular traditions, Asian religions and traditions, and monotheistic religions and perspectives as a base for what would come to evolve into universal human rights. Throughout history these traditions and religions have all played a role in shaping where we are at today in terms of human rights. Yet the road which led to a universal declaration of rights was not paved with ease. From the onset of Aristotle, Plato, Hammurabi, other secular authors, and culminating to the end of the French Revolution at the tail end of the eighteenth century, rights were not freely extended to all people. Certainly, white men, and specifically men who owned property have been well off, but there are several points in our shared history where not all of these rights were declared to everyone. The author argues that journalists have had a profound role in the advancement of human rights as there’s historical precedence to support this, and evidence to support that their work as journalists comes to support a growing concept of universal human rights. This thesis will examine the role one specific group of people who had a part in the evolution of human rights, and human rights movements: journalists. This thesis will examine the roles of three individual journalists over the course of time and how their work altered, and in many cases began, human rights movements. Focusing on Thomas Clarkson, Ida B. Wells, and Randy Shilts, the author argues that the contributions of journalists have had profound effects on human rights within the framework of rights struggles.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Patti Minter, Amanda Crawford


History | Journalism Studies