Karlous Miller talks leadership, responsibility and more in surprise appearance at Lafayette

Published 1:00 pm Monday, April 24, 2023

Comedian and Oxford native Karlous Miller made a surprise appearance at Lafayette High School last week as part of the school’s G.I.A.N.T.S. program.

The program, which was started by LMS secretary Tonya Woods in 2018, encourages young men to take more accountability in their lives by making better choices and forming positive habits.

Woods created the program in the wake of a shocking murder case that saw four local residents charged with capital murder, including two of Woods’ former Sunday school students.

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She said the event immediately spurred her into action, inspiring her to seek out ways to make more of an impact in the local community.

“I left work that day and I said ‘I’m gonna start a program,’ and I went home, talked to my husband and he said ‘whatever you do, I’m behind you,'” Woods said.

As she left home to attend to some work at the family’s funeral home, Woods said she heard a voice telling her to turn around.

“As I was leaving I heard something say ‘turn around,’ so I turned around and went to every guy that cuts hair here in Lafayette County and I just asked them for a little small donation,” she said.

Woods collected enough money to host an event off-campus, providing food and small gifts to an audience of 85 boys as they listened to speeches from Casey Dunn of Straight Talk, then-Oxford Police Sgt. Mario Weekly, LOU Boys and Girls Club director Kenorus Wilson and others.

The event was a remarkable success and Woods received rave reviews from parents, teachers and administrators who asked her to make the program an annual occurrence.

After a brief two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Woods restarted the program in 2022 with two separate events for boys and girls.

Seeking a headline name for the event this year, Woods reached out to Oxford High School graduate Karlous Miller in hopes that he could find time to make a brief appearance.

“I reached out to him through his manager and just told her what I was wanting to do,” Woods said. “We played around with some dates because he was doing comedy shows at the time so I had to work around his schedule but we got it together.”

Miller did more than just make a brief appearance as well.

The comic spoke for nearly 30 minutes, greeting each student individually before launching into an impassioned speech about forming positive habits and taking responsibility for one’s own actions.

“Your future’s in your hands. If you want to go to college, if you want to get a degree, if you want to be successful or be a business owner it starts right now,” Miller told students. “It’s not about the grades that you get it’s about the habits that you develop. Not everybody is gonna be a great student and get straight A’s but it’s not always about getting that A. It’s about what you learn.”

He also left the school with a parting gift as he presented administrators with a check for $5,000.

Woods said she was thrilled with Miller’s enthusiasm for the program, adding that his participation will help generate more interest in years to come.

And as far as next year’s guest speaker is concerned, Woods already has some ideas lined up.

“I would love to see it get bigger next year. You know, some of the kids asked me if I know D.K. [Metcalf] and yeah, I know D.K. personally, I know his family. If it could happen that he could come, I’d be glad to bring him in.”