Acts of Love for Black Media Storytellers
by Leslie Fields-Cruz
Since the week began with Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to use this blog to amplify Black Public Media’s dedication and love for Black media storytellers.
If you follow us on social media, you know that this month we’re highlighting the achievements of Black media storytellers. Makers like Ayana Baraka, Luchina Fisher, Jon Sesrie Goff, Thomas Allen Harris, Monica Land, and Jamila Wignot are why BPM exists. Our mission is to ensure storytellers like these get the financial, professional development, mentorship, and distribution support they need to bring stories of Black history, culture, art, literature, music, and aesthetics to public media.
At BPM, we believe Black Stories Matter, and we want Black media storytellers to know they are valued and appreciated. Too many of the gatekeepers in this industry send them the opposite message. Fortunately, there are hopeful signs of improvement.
This week, I invite you show your love for Black storytellers by tuning in and/or showing up for the following free events:
Tues., Feb. 15, 3 p.m. ET, BPM and WORLD Channel co-present a special conversation with the makers of Fannie Lou Hamer’s America. That virtual event will include Monica Land, executive producer of the film and Mrs. Hamer’s great-niece; Keisha N. Blain, author and historian; Aunjanue Ellis, actor and activist; Joy Davenport, director and editor; and Erika Dilday, executive producer of America ReFramed
Tues., Feb. 15, 9 p.m. ET, don’t miss the broadcast premiere of Leola Calzolai-Stewart’s The American Diplomat. The film shares the stories of three Black diplomats who broke racial barriers at the US State Department during the Cold War.
Tues., Feb. 15, 10 p.m. ET, and Thurs., Feb. 17, 3 p.m. ET., tune in this Tuesday for the broadcast premiere of Frontline’s new documentary, American Reckoning, by acclaimed directors and producers Brad Lichtenstein and Yoruba Richen. Then, on Thursday, log in for a live conversation about the film. Drawing on intimate, archival film footage of the civil rights era, American Reckoning offers a window into an untold story of a Black-led liberation and self-defense movement in Natchez, Miss., as well as the funeral of Wharlest Jackson Sr. and its aftermath. Go here to secure your virtual seat for that event.
Register for our upcoming Black Media Story Summit on Vaccine Equity. This March 2 virtual event will engage Baltimore media makers, community organizers and healthcare workers in conversation about how media might help boost vaccine uptake amongst Black Baltimoreans. Makers who attend are eligible for up to $60K in funding for a short-form project that speaks specifically to the Black community about vaccines. Keynote speaker at this event is Dr. Zoanne Clack, executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy.
Search your favorite podcast provider for Grace Lee’s trailblazing podcast, People Like Us. If you’ve already listened, I urge you to recommend it to others in your network. If you have not yet listened, and you truly value public media, you MUST add this to your priority listening list.
Sign up to attend BLADEcon next week (Feb. 23–24). The Black Liberation and the Digital Economy Conference is a custom, collaborative virtual event built by Black innovators, for Black innovators.
True love is something we demonstrate not only through flowery prose or heartfelt gifts. It manifests through everyday acts of support. Black media storytellers not only need all of us to show up for their work, but they need us to invite everyone we know to also watch, listen and engage.
— Fields-Cruz is the executive director of Black Public Media