For almost a decade, Mark Frezzo taught University of Mississippi students something he cared about deeply: social justice and the sociology of human rights.
With your help, the Mark V. Frezzo Human Rights and Social Justice Scholarship will honor his memory and continue his legacy of bringing a social scientific understanding of human rights to students on our campus.
The scholarship fund was begun by family and friends of the late professor after his untimely passing in spring 2020. Frezzo believed strongly in the potential for human beings to create a better world based upon the principles of human rights and scientific literacy.
Jeffrey T. Jackson, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, said the scholarship will provide an opportunity for future UM students to continue to study Frezzo’s passions.
“Mark inspired his students to empower themselves with a deeper understanding of what their fundamental human rights were,” Jackson said. “For students in Mississippi who often are faced with economic and political obstacles to fully realizing their complete rights, his message in the classroom was transformative. That is a legacy we want to continue.
“Mark believed that all citizens needed scientific literacy to be able to address the complex problems of the 21st century. That is what he was working on most recently. College education provides an avenue toward scientific literacy, but it needs to be open and available to all.”
The Frezzo Scholarship will help fund sociology majors who are interested in issues of human rights, the right to science and social justice.
First preference will be given to students who have financial need as determined by the Office of Financial Aid. Individuals will apply for the scholarship early in their academic careers so they can see the potential for majoring in sociology and taking classes on topics related to human rights. Recipients will be chosen by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology faculty.
Frezzo grew up in cities all across the United States and enjoyed playing baseball and making music as a drummer. Other hobbies included biking and what he called “walking the city,” walking for miles to see what he could discover.
He co-founded the American Sociological Association’s “Section on Human Rights” and contributed groundbreaking publications to this new and growing field, publishing major books that have come to define the sociology of human rights (in 2011 and 2014).
Based in the Declaration of Human Rights put forth by the United Nations in 1948, the sociology of human rights seeks to understand the fundamental principles and values that should guide human conduct and should define “the good life” for all. Frezzo believed that this particular time in history calls for a deeper understanding of how to achieve social justice.
Frezzo’s favorite articles of the Declaration were Article 26, “Everyone has the right to education,” and Article 2, known as “the right to science,” “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”
He was very interested in how all human beings need access to scientific knowledge to improve their communities and better their worlds. Without full access scientific data, information and know-how, communities cannot plan for nor manage the complex challenges they faced.
Frezzo believed all human beings – no matter their origins, whether they are rich or poor, whether their families encouraged intellectual pursuits or not – should have access to the same halls of scientific inquiry and advanced knowledge as everyone else.
The Mark V. Frezzo Scholarship will carry his legacy forward by providing access to the pursuit of social science. Future generations will be able to read, study and write about the very things that lit a spark in Frezzo. The scholarship assistance will allow them to advance the cause of human rights the professor believed in so fervently – how to improve the human condition.
Examining this important question is not just the task of the privileged. In fact, Frezzo’s belief was the privileged may not even be in the best position to answer it. Only a truly democratic process that includes all voices can address it. And, it’s crucial that students from working class and marginalized group backgrounds have all the intellectual tools so they can be equal participants in addressing humankind’s most pressing needs.
Today, please contribute to the Mark V. Frezzo Scholarship Fund, as we continue his important and transformative legacy of securing the benefits of scientific literacy and human rights for generations of University of Mississippi students to come.