by Leslie Fields-Cruz
While I love all of BPM’s programs, I am especially fond of the Open Call. Not only because it is our annual way of nurturing quality Black media storytelling, but because it offers us a sense of the breadth of stories that are emerging from Black communities across the country. The topics covered by this year’s submissions are richly varied and the stories are told from a variety of perspectives using a creative array of story capture techniques. The grantees for this year will be announced later this winter.
Over the past year, there’s been quite a bit of public discourse about whether we’re living through what Ibram X. Kendi and others call a Black Renaissance. Kendi views it as the third of its kind, standing on the shoulders of the 1920’s Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and ’70s. I’ll leave the labeling to the academics and culture critics. I’m just thrilled by the growing array of nonfiction storytellers who are turning to BPM for help getting their broadcast, digital and emerging media projects to the public.
As we transition from MLK weekend into Black History Month, I’m pleased to be able to support so many great stories that are by us and for us. The six-week period between MLK Jr. Day and Feb. 28, has never been sufficient to accommodate all the Black stories that need to be shared. Fortunately, our Open Call grantees are no longer confined to that narrow window. Their work is popping up everywhere at all times of the year. That, my friends, is progress.
While our Open Call only happens once a year, we’re not the only ones who issue one. Apply to others. Subscribe to our newsletter and weekly Dispatch. Come network at our events. And follow us on social media to stay informed of opportunities.
BPM is here to grow this community and facilitate Black cultural expression via public media. As past renaissance periods have proven, such explosions not only remind us of where we’ve been or prompt us to reflect on where we are, they inspire us for the path ahead. I look forward to what’s next.
— Fields-Cruz is the executive director of Black Public Media