A Little Light for the Journey

Black Public Media
3 min readFeb 7, 2024

by Leslie Fields-Cruz (originally published on Jan. 30, 2024)

Award-winning filmmaker/producer Colin “Topper” Carew reached out to me recently to discuss a new project. It had something to do with a little light. In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined what he was about to say.

Topper Carew

Topper began his career as an architect, but ended up making and producing documentary and narrative content for television and theatrical release. His primetime television series, Martin (FOX), is one of the most popular Black series in TV history. But Topper also has a long-standing relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has held fellowships there and has served as a visiting scholar. Still, when he told me he was working with a group of actual “rocket scientists” and was about to become the first Black guy to send a media payload into space, I was awestruck.

Shining Light on Black History in Space

His project, This Little Light of Mine in Space, took off for the International Space Station (ISS) earlier today. Once it arrives, any earthling with access to the internet will be able to visit the project’s website throughout Black History Month and monitor when the ISS is flying over their area. As it orbits by — which will recur several times daily — it will beam down the broadcast of a new film Topper has made featuring children from around the world singing, “This Little Light of Mine.” The project website includes a host of information and activities that relate to the study of space exploration, Black history makers in space, choral music, and more. BPM has signed on as a co-presenter of the project.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, BPM in partnership with PBS Learning Media, will host a special Black History Month webinar featuring a live conversation between Topper and PBS NOVA’s director of education and outreach, Ralph Bouquet. PBS Learning Media has partnered with BPM to promote the event among K-12 educators, but anyone with an interest in the project is welcome to join us. Participation is free but registration is required.

Topper could have invited any organization to be a part of this project. I believe he reached out to BPM because he wanted to remind other Black story tellers and those who too often overlook and underestimate Black creatives, that our ability to see beyond boundaries and reach for the stars is part of what makes our stories and our history so compelling.


Speaking of compelling stories, take a few minutes this week to check out the films streaming from the Denton Black Film Festival, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The in-person events are now over, but streaming continues through Feb. 5. Among the films featured, we recommend Storming Caesar’s Palace, (a BPM-funded feature) by Hazel Gurland-Pooler, and Educators to Africa, a short by Nadine and Marlene Patterson.

Next Tuesday, the Black History Month edition of our newsletter will list a variety of programs and projects we hope you’ll explore. As you partake of those and other cultural activities, I invite you to consider how the achievements of our predecessors have brightened the path you are on. Then, look up and focus on letting your own little light brighten the path for those who will follow.

“Let it shine, let it shine, let it SHINE!”

— Fields-Cruz is the executive director of Black Public Media



Black Public Media

Black Public Media (BPM) develops, produces, funds, and distributes media content about the African American and global Black experience.