APRIL 11, 2023




By Leslie Fields-Cruz

Celebrate Black Media Storytellers with Us

The stories of African griots have sustained West Africans for thousands of years. The stories of Middle Passage survivors, whose progeny endured centuries of enslavement, emboldened those who fought the American Civil War. And their stories inspired those who again demanded equal status under the law during the civil rights era and who continue that struggle today. Anyone who studies Black history, listens to our music, reads our literature, observes our artistry, and watches how we move should know that we are a people with long, powerful storytelling traditions.

Watching the recent events in Tennessee, where two young Black elected officials who were ejected from the state legislature are leaning deeply into our stories to fight for their constituents and for their own reinstatement, I am inspired. Already, one of these lawmakers has succeeded. The other is expected to follow. It is Black history unfolding before our eyes and I look forward to the Black media stories it will generate.

It isn't lost on me that these events are unfolding during April, a month that BPM might as well call Black Media Storyteller Month. Not only do we premiere our new AfroPoP season every April, but it also is when we host our annual PitchBLACK Forum and Awards program. This is, without a doubt, the most demanding season of the year for our staff. But it is also the most rewarding because Black media storytellers are modern day griots whose work deserves to be celebrated. We are honored to be able to do it.

This week, BPM and WORLD Channel celebrate the broadcast premiere of Queen Kidjo, the second episode in Season XV of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange. Make sure you watch it and if it makes you want to dance, check out our select YouTube playlist of Angélique Kidjo's music. Then join us Sunday evening (April 16) for a virtual conversation with the filmmakers of Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters, which premiered last week and is streaming on demand at our YouTube channel.

That filmmaker discussion is part of our African Diaspora Film Club collaboration with San Francisco's Museum of the African Diaspora. Go here to reserve your spot. If you can't make that, but still want to discuss AfroPoP films with those who love this type of documentary fare, hop on over to our AfroPoP Facebook Group page and join the conversation.

Next Monday, our AfroPoP Digital Shorts series will re-release Angela Tucker's Black Folk Don't Go Green documentary short as our contribution to Earth Day observances.

Finally, I hope you're registered to join us at PitchBLACK, April 25-27. What better way to end this dynamic month than by attending an event where you'll find out what today's leading Black media griots are up to. It's gonna be a PARTY!!!! See you there.

Black Public Media (BPM) is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with further funding from the MacArthur Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts.  BPM is the only nonprofit that offers training, funding and distribution for projects solely about the black experience. We are seeking foundations, corporations and individuals to help our work. For more information about underwriting and contributions, please contact Alisa Norris (alisa@blackpublicmedia.org). 

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