January 26, 2021



By Leslie Fields-Cruz

Shining Our Brilliant Black Lights

I can’t believe January is nearly done! Last year seemed to drag on forever, so I welcome the change of pace. But let’s be honest, 2021 didn’t exactly get off to a glowing start. A more voracious strain of Covid-19 is now on the loose, food lines are growing, and the Jan. 6, attempted insurrection by a costumed mob of blood-thirsty, mostly White malcontents offered a chilling reminder that the United States of America is not yet the indivisible nation of our dreams, where “liberty and justice” are accorded to all.

Nevertheless, last week’s inauguration festivities offered reasons to be hopeful. In her poem “The Hill We Climb,” Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman reminded Americans that “history has its eyes on us.” She also invited us to not only see the light each new day brings, but to “be it.”

As the executive director of Black Public Media, I am fortunate to encounter brilliant Black lights all the time. They appear in the form of media makers like Ayana Baraka and Luchina Fisher, who this week will be among those showcasing and talking about their work during the first virtual Denton Black Film Festival. On Sat., Jan. 30, my colleague Lisa Osborne and I will facilitate two panels during the festival: AR/VR Storytelling at 3 PM CT; and Extractive Storytelling at 6 pm CT. Our virtual travels in Texas will continue next month, when we’ll join our partners at the Houston Cinema Arts Society and Austin Film Society for another regional Black Media Story Summit-Houston, Tues., Feb. 2. Featured speakers at that event include Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson (Changing Same) and Channing Godfrey Peoples (Miss Juneteenth).

During the nation’s 45th Annual Black History Month observance, BPM and its public and cultural media partners will offer a full slate of virtual activities, screenings and premieres to educate, inspire and salute Black excellence and innovation. So check our social media feeds often. You don’t want to miss out.  

Finally, stay tuned for details about BPM’s upcoming appeal. We’ve set a $20K goal and hope you’ll contribute so we can continue to help America’s Black media storytellers shine their lights. For the occasion, our BPM Shop is featuring a new line of merchandise featuring the tag “Black Every Month,” so be sure to check it out.  Details about the other ways you can contribute to the campaign will be featured in our February newsletter.

 By creating, telling and sharing our stories, we can all shine a brilliant Black light!