Leslie Fields-Cruz
MARCH 8, 2022




By Leslie Fields-Cruz

Freedom of Speech, Alone, Is Worth Fighting For

As the war in Ukraine wages on, I am reminded how fortunate we are to live in a democracy that values the free flow of information. Our system is certainly not perfect. But most Americans recognize that free and independent media are essential tools for holding those in power accountable to the people.

For 43 years, BPM has supported media storytellers who tell Black stories. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but our perseverance is paying off. Last year, we awarded $400K+ in project funding to several traditional media storytellers competing in our PitchBLACK Forum.

Next month, at our fifth PitchBLACK Forum and Awards, we will award project funding to storytellers working in both the traditional and immersive media fields. The storytellers we support, like this year’s Trailblazer Award winner Orlando Bagwell, typically go on to make award-winning media projects, become mentors to emerging storytellers, and/or land influential positions at media organizations where they make room for other Black storytellers.


David Heredia pitching his Heroes of Color project at PitchBLACK 2019, photo by James Brooks

There are still many places in the world where a crackdown on independent media and independent voices is relentless. Even in our own country, there are those who would like to silence us once again. We’ve been down that road already. Never again.

Black Public Media is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with further funding from the MacArthur Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, and Acton Family Giving.  For more information about underwriting and contributions, please contact Alisa Norris (Alisa@ blackpublicmedia.org). To donate, click here! In addition, you can donate to BPM through your Amazon purchases by going to smile.amazon.com/ch/31-1335950.

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