Media That Matters


This week the Center for Media and Social Impact kicks off its Media That Matters (Feb 19-20) conference at American University. This year’s focus is on impact, especially the impact of documentaries from award-winning PBS series like P.O.V. and Independent Lens. The Washington, DC forum below and several others in major cities are part of a “PBS National Listening Tour.”

The impetus for the “Listening Tour” with PBS executives was a decision near the end of 2014 by New York PBS station WNET Channel 13 (also a national producer of PBS series Great Performances, American Masters) to movie independent documentary series P.O.V. and “Independent Lens” from prime-time on their primary channel to their WLIW Long Island digital channel on Mondays at 10 PM with a rebroadcast on the primary channel at 11 PM on Sundays. How does it feel to be forced out of Manhattan and moved to Long Island? Independent filmmakers were (you guessed it) outraged.

Fortunately WNET put the breaks on the decision until May and agreed to hear filmmakers and the public’s stories about the impact of documentary films in their lives and in community — many of these docs have been featured on this blog.

If you’re in Washington, DC this week – or stuck here for the weather – feel free to check into the Media That Matters event below on February 19. If you’re in New York February 23, WNET, PBS and series executives will be holding a similar forum from 2 – 5 PM at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan.

Has a community screening of “Independent Lens” or “POV” film changed the way you look at the world?

Has a particular film captured your voice and your struggles?

If so, we need your help!

Please attend the D.C Media That Matters event on Thursday, February 19 (details below)

This is a FREE Event – RSVP Eventbrite


Public TV and Independent, Point of View Documentary

Thursday, February 19
6:30 – 8:00pm
Malsi Doyle & Michael Forman Theater
2nd Floor, McKinley Building
American University Campus

Does public TV need independent and underrepresented voices? Do independent and underrepresented voices need public TV? When WNET contemplated moving Independent Lens and POV off the prime-time schedule in December, it triggered a nation-wide protest. WNET and PBS restored the series to the schedule until May, and promised to hold a listening tour. At this public hearing, viewers, organization heads, and filmmakers talk with public TV executives. Join them!


Moderator: Melissa Houghton, WIFV*
Tamara Gould, ITVS
Eliza Licht, POV
Ivana Jackson, WHUT*
Marie Nelson, PBS
Bernardo Ruiz, Quiet Pictures (“Los Graduados/The Graduates”)
Rick Schneider, WETA
Stephen Segaller, WNET
Andy Shallal, Busboys and Poets*
Joseph Tovares, CPB
Larry Unger, MPT

Read Variety article for more information and background for these public forms in several cities.

If you’re willing to make a short personal testimonial in front of the panel, contact indiecaucus[at]gmail[dot]com.

See highlights from the forum in San Francisco:

“Black Life/White Light” exhibition (February Call for Submissions)

Performance artist SHELDON SCOTT writes…

April 1st -30th, 2015
Opening Reception- Friday, April 3rd 7pm-12 midnight
ReCreative Spaces
1613 Rhode Island Ave NE
Washington, DC

“Black Life/White Light” is an exhibition featuring White artists responding to the Black Lives Matter Movement. This all-media, national show will survey the ways White artists have engaged and supported the fight to preserve and protect Black Lives. Artists are asked to submit previously un-exhibited work created after 2012. Works selected by Curator Sheldon Scott and Assistant Curator Deirdre Darden will be exhibited at ReCreative Spaces Gallery in Northeast Washington, DC.

Submissions for review will be accepted from February 1st till February 22nd, 2015. Please email samples (blwlcall[at]gmail[dot]com) of works (5 Max), a brief bio, and statement and or image of the piece you would like to submit for placement in the show.

ReCreative Spaces, in partnership with The Menkiti Group, is creating a place for communities to gather and share their passion for art of all kinds. Currently located at 1613 Rhode Island Ave NE, we offer monthly gallery shows, weekly classes, performances, and private rehearsal and event rentals.

For more information and a full calendar of events please visit:

Langston Hughes – The World He Dreamed

Google Doodle celebrates poet Langston Hughes today on his 113th Birthday (February 1) with a riff on his poem, “I Dream a World.” The animation was created by Katy Wu. (More on Katy Wu here and her advice for budding digital artists)

Langston_LOCI dreamed with Langston turning the pages of his final book BLACK MAGIC (co-authored with Milton Meltzer), a pictorial anthology of African Americans singers, dramatists, actors, musicians, dancers — the trailblazers who were paving the road for the generations by living their dreams. Was this the hope of Langston Hughes? Was the dream deffered the warning?

by Langston Hughes

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

Cuba Si!

Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the Cold War embargo between the United States and Cuba is coming to an end. Normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations will enter a brand new era. Truth be told, hints of the thaw, were apparent in 2008 even in Little Havana. And oppositiono about the announcement will begin to sound like the crotchety old guy yelling “get off my lawn!”

The bulk of the GOP comments suggested that, for now at least, the conservative base remains firmly committed to keeping relations with Cuba in the deep-freeze where they have been for half a century. That position, however, is increasingly at odds with the view of the electorate at large.

Washington Post

Even the Pope has given his blessing after making a divine intervention. Others played parts too both secular and sacred leading up to this moment.

Questions still remain re prisoner exchanges. For one American (Alan Gross), Cuba welcomes back three nationals arrested for spying in the U.S. Two more Cubans remain in custody. Will there be another prisoner exchange? Or an exchange of prisoners for U.S. political fugitives. The next chapter is yet to be written.

Something tells me the last 2 years of the Obama Presidency will not have a lame-duck finish. Fasten your seatbelts….

Marion Barry…He built this!


a film by Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer

still01DC’s 4-term Mayor Marion Barry’s footprint is everywhere in Washington, DC. U Street revival started with the Reeves Center. Marion Barry’s name is on the building. DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities started by Marion Barry. Senior services and senior housing for fixed incomes initiated by Marion Barry. The city’s first subway, Metro, dug in during the Barry years. Verizon Center. Guess who started that conversation? Conventions in Washington, DC? That came to life with a convention center. Barry. Barry identified talent. Tony Williams, who became the golden Mayor of DC, was a Barry appointee to handle the city’s budget (Williams took over when the control board was put in place). Tax incentives for first-time home owners in the district – I took advantage of that one as well as the summer jobs program for youth. The program placed us in jobs that set us on career tracks (not office day care set ups to keep us off the street).

But Barry will forever be defined by his fall. Even when I was visting London, months later I was asked to explain that hotel incident and Marion Barry. “He isn’t my cousin!” I wanted to say. We were members of the same Unitarian church for a time when his fellow SNCC member and friend Rev. David H. Eaton was minister.

Perhaps I should’ve quoted Shakespeare:

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones

Anthony, Act 3, scene ii of Julius Caesar

Marion Barry was Shakespearian with a 6th and even 7th Act. Like him or not, you can’t deny that for that former sleepy southern city called Washington Marion Barry was for DC, in the words of my blogging brother E. Ethelbert Miller, “our Spring. A man who tried to bring a little warmth to so many left out in the cold.”

Mayor Marion Barry, Jr., civil rights veteran, and councilmember for Ward 8, died today in Washington, DC at the age of 78.

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