Saluting Women in Media

Black Public Media
3 min readMar 7, 2024

by Leslie Fields-Cruz

The celebration continues this month as we transition from celebrating Black history during February to saluting women’s history in March. For the occasion, BPM Director of Programs Denise Greene has prepared a roster of recent films by women filmmakers about women of note. You’ll find the list in this month’s newsletter.

As the third executive director of Black Public Media, I am honored to stand on the shoulders of my predecessors: founding president, Mable Haddock, and her immediate successor, Jacquie Jones.

Women Who Lead

Mable Haddock with Leslie Fields-Cruz

Mable and the staff and board that worked with her from 1979–2005, blazed uncharted territory at a time when Black content, of any kind, was rare on television. Though independent Black filmmakers had existed for decades before that, their access and influence outside of the Black community was limited. Through programs like the Prized Pieces Film Festival, The State of Black America, and our annual Open Call, Mable’s tireless advocacy and innovation created opportunities for dozens of media makers who’ve made lasting contributions to this industry.

Jacquie Jones

Jacquie took the helm in 2005, when digital media was still in its infancy. She had the vision and determination to ensure our people were not left behind. The New Media Institute was our first big venture into the digital space. It focused on introducing Black media story tellers to the new digital tools and creating opportunities for makers to exchange knowledge, find funding, and distribute their work. Jacquie also produced 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School to shine a much-needed national spotlight on the challenges and achievements of urban schools.

I would be negligent if I didn’t also recognize the contributions of the many staff — most of whom were women — and board members who collaborated with Jacquie. Among these, is our beloved Kay Shaw, who continues to create opportunities for emerging talent.

Staying on Mission

Organizations like Black Public Media survive and thrive because the people who shepherd them are deeply committed to the mission. I am proud to have served this organization for most of my adult life. I’m especially grateful to Mable, Jacquie and Kay for their mentorship and friendship. They embraced me as their little sister, and still inspire me to carry this torch so that the stories of our people are never overlooked or left out.

My mentors’ examples gave me the courage to create AfroPoP: The Ulitmate Cultural Exchange, which will begin its 16th season on April 1. They inspired us to transform the New Media Instutute into what we now know as BPMplus. They motivated us to create the PitchBLACK Forum and Awards, the seventh iteration of which will take place April 24–25.

The sisters I’ve named represent just a small portion of those women whose contributions have strengthened and continue to transform the media industry. As we celebrate women’s history this month, I invite you to take a moment to thank them for their vision, their courage and their ingenuity. Then, in the spirit of Sankofa, press ahead.

— 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.