Profiles of Black Excellence: David B. Miller

Image of David B. Miller, PhD

In honor of Black History Month, we spoke with some of our Black faculty members to find out what the month means to them and how they plan on observing it. 

David B. Miller is the associate dean for academic affairs and the director of the school's international education programs. His research focus is on the health status of African American males—specifically, he is currently investigating the awareness and knowledge of African American males regarding prostate cancer, and the effects of chronic stress on adolescents and young adults.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month (BHM) offers me the opportunity to reflect, on a deeper level, on all the accomplishments of Black people across the span of time from slavery to the present. I take time within the month to learn about those who are not uplifted or highlighted within current venues who contributed their talents, and frequently their lives, in the fight for equality, personhood and social justice for Black people. Through the lessons discovered and rediscovered during BHM, a clear picture of the struggles, resilience and strengths of people who were systematically shut out during the early periods of this nation’s history becomes even clearer. Through this, I find myself encouraged to continue to stand in the gap and add my voice to the calls for racial equity and justice. I recall when BHM was only observed during the second week in February. Thus through the efforts of students at Kent State University, it reflects that the voices of Black history shouldn’t be confined to a week, much less a month. 

Is there an event, moment or individual in Black history that has influenced you personally or professionally?

Watching my grandmother go vote. She would always tell me that our right to vote was won through the blood, tears and deaths of many people, and encouraged me to always participate in the voting process and to let nothing or no one stop me from voting. That lesson remains central to my participation in civil society and discourse.

What role should educational institutions play in ensuring Black history and culture are integrated throughout the curriculum?

Educational institutions should and must integrate Black history throughout curricula across all disciplines and areas of study. History cannot be fully understood without including the accomplishments of Black pioneers in the sciences, medicine, law, business and, of course, social work.

Also, through integrating Black history, it will be shown to all races and creeds that Black history is more than Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream Speech”; Rosa Parks' refusal to move to the back of the bus; and Carl Stokes' victory in the late 1960s. The richness and depth of Black folks’ history throughout the centuries and across the diaspora should be understood, and at the very least, made available for all to understand and examine. Efforts to whitewash, obscure or even ban the teaching of Black history and the accomplishments of descendants of slaves only shows that some believe that if we don’t talk about it or learn about it, it will not exist. Fortunately, Black history cannot be erased by the insecurities, bigotry, prejudice and racism of those people. 

How do you plan on observing Black History Month?

As I’ve done for the past several years, I will read portions of Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro, and I highly recommend for everyone to read it as well. 

See how the Mandel School is celebrating Black History Month