Lionnell "Badu" Smith

PhD Student

Office Hours
Contact for office hours or appointments
Lionnell Smith


Lionnell Smith (preferably known as “Badu”) is an award-winning communication educator with more than 10 years of teaching experience. His research focuses on two areas of communication scholarship: a) critical intercultural communication studies with particular emphasis on language, race, and power; and b) critical [communication] pedagogy. Using critical rhetorical and qualitative methods, Badu aims to address the cultural and linguistic hegemony that exists in academic discourse communities and the systems of power in education that oppress Black faculty and students. Badu’s research on critical [communication] pedagogy advocates for a fair and equitable curriculum of [communication] instruction in which students are exposed to a diversity of voices, especially those on the margins. More specifically, he draws on critical, revolutionary, and decolonial pedagogical frameworks to promote antiracist and Afrocentric approaches to teaching communication and rhetoric.

Badu’s research has been published in Departures in Critical Qualitative Research (DCQR), Listening: Journal of Communication Ethics, Religion, and Culture, and Dialogues in Social Justice: An Adult Education Journal. In addition, Badu has presented several peer-reviewed papers and has presented on several discussion panels at state, regional, and national conferences. He is a Fulbright-Hays Scholar (2018, 2022) and the recipient of several awards including the Monica Pombo Early Career Teaching Award (2018), the Department of Communication and Film Research Award (2022), and the Benson-Campbell Dissertation Research Award (2022). Badu is a fourth-year PhD candidate under the advisement of Dr. Andre E. Johnson. His dissertation “Too Tired to Codeswitch: Analyzing the Prophetic Rhetoric of Critical Black Language Awareness” examines the rhetorical discourses of three critical Black Language teacher-scholar-activists through the lens of Black prophetic rhetoric.


Ph.D. in Communication Studies The University of Memphis, (In Progress)
M.A. in Communication Studies The University of Louisiana at Monroe, 2011
B.S. in Mass Communication Voorhees College, 2010