By Sophie Higby
Assistant Professor Niya Pickett Miller of the Communications and Media Department had high hopes for the Lunch and Learn event she helped host on Monday, Feb. 7. But, according to Miller, the turnout of students and professors at the “Using the Professoriate to Amplify Black Voices” event was disappointing.
“What I would like to see, and what I hope will happen in the future, is that when we have events like the Lunch and Learn, there would be more support from the Samford community,” Miller said, in response to Monday’s Lunch and Learn event. “It would be more impactful if more ears could hear the content and not the people who were already doing the work.”
The event was one of several planned by the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives throughout February in honor of Black History Month.
Miller devotes her time to considering all types of culture within the classroom, using culturally-responsive teaching in her work. Through this event, her hope was to help colleagues understand race and communications with a diversity component built-in.
“I certainly can relate to the experience of being a minority on a predominantly white campus, and I wanted the faculty to understand that black students in particular are bringing with them their culture, their history…fragments of their communities,” Miller said. “Those are important elements that could actually enrich the learning environment.”
While the idea of incorporating such a large and broad topic may seem daunting, Miller helps make it more accessible by incorporating popular culture such as Netflix movies and documentaries that relate to culture. This month, the Samford University Library is displaying a copy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.” Miller is creating an assignment for her students based around the letter, so it can be directly incorporated into the learning process.
According to Miler, she believes that, through using culturally-responsive teaching, students tend to feel more included. She also said that uniformity can quickly become dangerous, but through this technique, it allows students to be well-informed on subject matter outside of their everyday lives and creates a broader mindset.
“You’ve got to think outside the box. You’ve got to figure out how you can bring students out of their comfort zones,” Miller said.
If you missed out on this event and want to attend more in the future, the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives is hosting several additional events over the next few weeks, all of which can be found at https://www.samford.edu/departments/diversity/news/Samford-Celebrates-Black-History-Month-2022.