UNH celebrates Black History Month with AMPLIFY podcast series


Isabelle Curtis

In honor of Black History Month, the Beauregard Center and the Sexual Harassment & Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) are co-sponsoring AMPLIFY: Turning up the Volume on Black Voices, a virtual podcast & chat series.  

The event will be hosted via Zoom every Friday this month from 2-3 p.m. Each week participants will listen to a podcast episode focused on Black experiences and will be invited to share their thoughts afterwards.  

  While the University of New Hampshire (UNH) hosts a variety of events for Black History Month, this is the university’s first year putting on AMPLIFY. Erica Vazza, SHARPP outreach and training coordinator, explained the idea came to her while brainstorming ways to “engage [the] UNH community in a virtual format.”  

 “I thought about how podcasts have been an incredible resource and form of connection to others for myself during this pandemic and figured there was something to that,” she said. “The Beauregard Center & SHARPP’s goal of the AMPLIFY podcast & chat series is to center and uplift Black voices and experiences while simultaneously creating space for reflection, processing, community, and discussion.”  

Lu Butterfield-Ferrell, Beauregard Center associate director and coordinator of LGBTQA+ initiatives, also explained they intentionally chose podcasts that highlighted “different topics and intersections of experience” to focus on each week to capture the “varying experiences of Black folks.” 

  The AMPLIFY series kicked off its first meeting last week with the New York Times’ “Still Processing.” The culture podcast debuted in 2016 with hosts Jenna Wortham, who works for the New York Times Magazine, and Wesley Morris, the paper’s critic at large. “Still Processing” focuses on a range of topics, from deconstructing male privilege to analyzing Beyonce’s Coachella performance. The featured episode for AMPLIFY, entitled “We Celebrate the REAL MLK Day,” commemorated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death in 2018.  

  In the episode, Wortham and Morris examined the days leading up to King’s death, including his iconic last speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” and discussed how his ideals shifted after the “I Had A Dream” speech. Wortham and Morris also grappled with what it would mean for the country to commemorate the day of King’s assassination rather than his birthday.  

“I think it would mean we’d have to ask what he died for in a way we don’t have to ask what he was born for,” suggested Wortham.  

After the episode, time was set aside for participants to share their initial reactions and engage in discussion with prompts provided by the event organizers.  

“The hour flew by,” said Vazza. A little under 30 people attended the event, but she hopes that there will be higher attendance once people have settled into their new class schedules.  

  Last Friday, AMPLIFY highlighted NPR’s “Code Switch,” a weekly culture and race podcast co-hosted by Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby. The featured episode, “What Does ‘Hood Feminism’ Mean For A Pandemic?” focused on author Mikki Kendall’s book “Hood Feminism” and how COVID-19 has affected women of color’s “on-the-ground” brand of feminism. 

This Friday, AMPLIFY will tune into “Everyday Black History: Afro Appreciation,” which focuses on the past and presents contributions of black men and women, according to Vazza. 

“We hope that people attend our mini-series and enjoy it so much that it encourages them to continue seeking out content, history, and heritage that centers Blackness and Black communities,” she said. 

Registration for the event can be found on Facebook or Wildcat Link. 

The Beauregard Center and SHARPP also encourage UNH community members to check out UNH’s Community Equity & Diversity Office’s website for other Black History Month programs. 

In addition, the Beauregard Center will continue its bi-weekly dialogue series “Real Talk” that covers a wide range of topics. They will also be holding the Being Better Workshop: Foundations for Allyship, Accompliceship and Community Change from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on March 6. More information can be found on their Facebook page and website with registration details.  

SHARPP will also be hosting their Direct Action for Incarcerated Survivors Virtual Letter Writing series again this spring. More details on this and other upcoming events can be found on their website.  

Photo courtesy of the Beauregard Center and UNH’s SHARRP