NOVEMBER 2, 2021




By Leslie Fields-Cruz


Preparing to Make the Moment Matter


Maya Angelou once said: "If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going. I have great respect for the past, but I'm a person of the moment."

I can relate to that sentiment. Which is perhaps why the theme of our recent staff and board strategic planning retreat was Make the Moment Matter.

We were joined at the retreat's opening night dinner by PBS President/CEO Paula Kerger, WHUT General Manager Sean Plater, and PBS Chief Programming Officer and General Manager Sylvia Bugg. The guest speaker was writer/editor Anneliese Bruner. Her great-grandmother's book, The Nation Must Awake: My Witness to the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, is currently a best seller after spending a full century in obscurity. Anneliese reminded us that well-told stories about the Black experience will always matter, even if it takes decades for those stories to reach the intended audience. But unless we maintain a commitment to documenting and sharing our stories, those who would prefer to ignore or belittle our experiences will have free reign to tell whatever story suits their agenda.  Future generations are relying on us to provide first-hand accounts of who we are, what we value, what we experience, and how we contribute.

Anneliese Bruner_ credit Eugene Daniels_Politico

Anneliese M. Bruner, photo by Eugene Daniels

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For many Americans, the events of the past few years — the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others; the disparate Black mortality rate from Covid-19; and countless other economic and social injustices — were a shocking awakening.  The work of Black storytellers like Darnella Frazier (who  filmed Floyd's murder), Dawn Porter (Good Trouble 2020), and Saabah Folayan (Whose Streets?, 2018), inspired the newly "woke" to demand we make the moment matter and put an end to racial injustice.

At Black Public Media, we make the moment matter EVERY DAY, by making Black Stories Matter.  It's why we've had a hand in bringing films like Two Towns of JasperIs Inequality Making us Sick?, Flag Wars180 DaysMatters of RaceElena, and more — to the public. It is why we  support projects such as Ailey,  Professional Black Girl, I Am Not Your Negro, Maya Angelou, and Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, which all celebrate Black life and achievement. And it is why BPM remains fully invested in the professional development of Black media makers — whether they work in traditional or emerging forms of media storytelling. We're here to ensure they are fully prepared to document authentic Black stories at any moment.

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BPM board, consultants and staff (clockwise from back left): Katelyn "Kat" Walsh, Nadia Monroe, Cliff Charles, Guy-Max Delphin, Joy Ford Austin, Antonia Carew-Watts, Valerie Williams-Sanchez, Qiona Woffard, Alisa Norris, Steve Hissam, Eboni Johnson, Adrena Ifill, Cheryl D. Fields, Diane Carr-Joseph, Lisa Osborne, Leslie Fields-Cruz, Darryl Ford Williams, and Denise Green.  Photo Credit: Katelyn "Kat" Walsh

The BPM board and staff emerged from our 2021 retreat with a solid foundation for our new strategic plan and a refreshed, more concise mission statement, which you'll find on our website. This updated statement will inform our decisions about programming, partnership and fundraising, as well as the strategies we use to promote the projects we support and our institutional brand.

BPM has been making the moment matter for more than 40 years. We not only know who we are and where we've been, we're clear about what's happening in this moment. Ultimately, our destination is a future where Black stories and Black lives matter — to everyone at every moment.

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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