Published on September 29, 2021 by Sean Flynt  
Niya Pickett Miller
Niya Pickett Miller

Samford University communication and media professor Niya Pickett Miller edited and contributed to the new book Sustaining Black Music and Culture During COVID-19, a collection of essays and studies by 12 scholars from various university communication and media programs. The works are united by their exploration of the communicative and Black cultural significance of the Instagram Live events, Club Quarantine (CQ) and Verzuz battles during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The book argues that Instagram is a premier digital leisure space to celebrate and promote Black American culture and identity, particularly evidenced during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as the United States grappled with mandated shelter-in-place orders,” Miller said. “CQ and Verzuz emerged as highly successful Black music-listening events streamed via Instagram Live. They collectively provided respite from social isolation and rearticulated space for Black culture engagement,  all while ushering Black (techno)culture through a once-in-a-generation pandemic and beyond.”

Miller's scholarship is centered on visual rhetorical criticism of marginal identities, and that work earned her the 2019 Alabama Communication Association top faculty paper award.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.