On Halloween weekend, the MISA Collaborative came to fruition through the production of Crumbs From the Table of Joy, joining Miles College and Samford University in partnership.
“It’s ‘MI’ for Miles, ‘SA’ for Samford,” explained Miles College Theatre Professor Chalethia Williams, who was the guest director for Crumbs.
Angie Brooks, a graduate of both Miles and Samford set her idea of a partnership between the two colleges in motion in 2019.
“I was the connector for the MISA Collaboration,” Brooks said. “I started my appointment with Samford University School of Arts as the Business and Operations Manager in March of 2019. By Nov. 6, 2019, I had already introduced Dr. (Joe) Hopkins of Samford University to Dr. (Anthonia) Adadevoh of Miles College to birth the MISA Collaboration.”
One of the intentions of this collaboration was to heal the racial divide that has long existed between the two universities.
“Back in, I think it was like ‘64 or ‘65, there was a concert held on the campus of Samford – I think it was Howard then – and at that concert some students from Miles came over to Samford, but they were not welcome. It was racial,” Williams explained. “Buildings were locked up so they couldn’t use the restroom and things like that.”
Brooks said she recognized a collaborative opportunity through the Arts.
“We needed more diversity at Samford, and I had a dean willing to listen to me,” Brooks said. “I knew both institutions had a dynamic influence on the white and black communities in our city, and I also learned we could get to know each other better through the Arts.”
Associate Professor Bala Baptiste of Miles College and Dean Joe Hopkins co-chair the MISA Collaboration.
“We also have about two dozen committee members, including students and community leaders,” Brooks said. “The MISA collaboration has a website that the students are contributing to, a grant from Alabama Power, and a signed Memorandum of Understanding between the presidents of each institution.”
One of the advantages of this collaboration for Miles theatre students in particular is the ability to use the newly renovated Harrison Theatre.
“We don’t have as much by way of a theatre space that we practice in that’s like Samford’s space,” Williams said. “With every opportunity that I can, I get them to see and experience spaces that hopefully they will be involved in when they leave Miles College.”
The biggest challenge members of the collaboration will face is managing differing schedules.
“At Miles, we are on a four-day class schedule,” Willams explained. “We do Monday through Thursday. Samford does Monday through Friday, so when we’re off from classes on Fridays and doing meetings, Samford is in classes.”
Despite this challenge, Brooks emphasized the importance of continuing this program.
“The bottom line is love!” Brooks said. “I learned others were trying to join the communities in the past, and they were successful, but we must be consistent in trying times.”