Arts and Humanities People and Community

UMTV’s The Culture sheds light on the Black Lives Matter movement

A group of University of Miami students take a deep dive through film, photography, and journalism into the history of police brutality and social justice issues Black people are facing in the United States.
Black Voices Matter, a UMTV special presentation, airs July 31, 2020
“Black Voices Matter,” a UMTV special presentation, can be viewed online Friday, July 31.

As many students around the nation and globe engage in protesting violence by police against Black communities, a group of students at the University of Miami is documenting as much of it as possible. 

Jayda Graham and KiAnna Dorsey, executive producers of The Culture, UMTV’s award-winning channel which highlights the Black experience at and beyond the University of Miami, have banded together during the summer to lead the charge on a special edition project titled “Black Voices Matter.” UMTV produces nine different shows, including a weekly live sports show and newscast, a late-night comedy program, and two Spanish-language programs.

“We felt like it was really important for us to talk about the issues that Black people are facing in America,” said Jayda Graham, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. “I think this is a very unique time in history. Not only are we dealing with these social issues, but we’re also dealing with a pandemic that’s disproportionately affecting black people.”

Graham said it feels like an explosion of issues all at once and the U.S. is being forced to recognize what Black people have “always been dealing with.”

The 30-minute special project will highlight the history of the Black Lives Matter organization and its mission after the killing of teen Trayvon Martin. Members of The Culture will also share their personal perspectives of protests and rallies from their respective cities and towns. 

“Even though we’re in the midst of a hard time and everybody is social distancing, I feel like that’s what’s making this project extra special,” said Dorsey, a sophomore majoring in motion pictures with a minor in Spanish. “I also think it’s really special to know people from all over the University are on board.”

UMTV station manager Gianna Sanchez, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism, frequently met virtually with Dorsey and Graham to assist with the planning and visual aspects of the project. Sanchez coordinated with every show under the UMTV umbrella so that they would be a part of the project.

“It was important for UMTV to show its support of Black voices rather than just make one simple post about it,” Sanchez said. “All nine shows came together to make one united project, but it was important for The Culture to lead and to have this experience.”

The unique project  captures voices from across the University, including President Julio Frenk,  Black student leaders, and faculty and staff members.

“It’s a combination of national and UM news, while also putting the focus on Black stories,” Sanchez said. “While showcasing those difference aspects, we end the show on a positive note by showcasing the things that have changed because of the protests—tips on how you can be proactive, self-care advice, and helpful ways you can be an ally.” 

As Graham and Dorsey return to campus this fall semester, they plan to keep consistently creating similar content to keep their followers and supporters aware of Black community news.

“We are pushing the envelope and telling the stories that need to be told,” Graham said.

“Black Voices Matter” can be viewed online Friday, July 31, on the UMTV website.