We are excited to announce our second round of 2020 grantees for the Southern Movement Media Fund!
Both the collective and individual grants will support deep collaborations grounded in reporting and storytelling by and for Black and brown people in the South. These projects touch on issues ranging from evictions, to marijuana legalization, to uprisings in both small towns and big cities, and their approaches include video archives, interactive timelines, live events, podcasts, illustrated oral histories and written reports. We hope you’re as inspired as we’ve been by learning about these projects and their creators.
Brunswick, Georgia: Neesha Powell-Twagirumukiza is a Georgia born and raised movement journalist, creative nonfiction student, cat parent, spouse, and auntie living in Atlanta (occupied Cherokee & Creek territories) who conspires in the name of liberated Black futures, queer, transgender & Two-spirit Black/indigenous/people of color power, solidarity economics, and transformative justice/community accountability. For nearly a decade, they’ve organized within and written about grassroots social justice movements—tweet with them @womanistbae. They were a 2019-2020 Press On Freedomways Fellow.
The Fund will cover costs associated with reporting on cultural, political, and social change in Brunswick, Georgia, Powell-Twagirumukiza’s hometown. Brunswick is a small coastal city still reeling from the murder of a 25-year-old Black man named Ahmaud Arbery by three white men.
Orlando, Florida: Raquel Reichard is an award-winning journalist and editor whose work focuses on Latinx culture, politics, music and identity. As a writer, she centers oft-overlooked communities and stories, while as a speaker and consultant, she helps young and emerging writers and creatives of color break into the media industry and succeed in their professional lives. Raquel holds a master’s degree in Latinx news media from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Central Florida.
The Fund will support the production of an investigative piece highlighting and contextualizing the ways politicians have used Latinx trauma to win votes in the state of Florida.
Richmond, Virginia: Marijuana Justice (MJVA) focuses on repealing the prohibition and reinvesting into communities impacted by the Drug War. The organization utilizes organizing through awareness building to reduce the harm the criminal justice system has on Black lives. They are preparing for the 2021 Virginia General Assembly Session, where legalization will be a prominent topic as we approach statewide primaries in June 2021.
Press On funding will go directly to part-time Black Queer organizers and Black media creatives to support the making of our #LegalizeItRightVA campaign video.
Birmingham, Atlanta, Durham, Charleston: Scalawag Magazine is a journalism and storytelling organization that illuminates dissent, unsettles dominant narratives, pursues justice and liberation, and stands in solidarity with marginalized people and communities in the South. Online, in person, and through our family of engaged members, Scalawag reimagines the roots and futures of the place we call home.
The Fund will help Scalawag expand capacity for deepening movement relationships in Durham, NC; Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; and Charleston, SC.
Richmond, Virginia: Jasmine Leeward has worked as a Communications Specialist for New Virginia Majority, a group organizing for racial, environmental, and economic justice through strategic electoral work and grassroots campaigns. Jasmine sees her work as a manifestation of Audre Lorde’s definition of survival “learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish.”
“I create media for Black people, specifically people who are poor, specifically in the South,” Leeward said in their video application for The Fund. “I don’t erase myself from my work. I continue to try to insert myself and show that I am a part of the community that I’m serving.”
The Fund will support the development of Leeward’s archiving project documenting movements in Richmond, VA, including eviction defense work and Black Lives Matter.
Atlanta and across the South: The National Council of Elders (NCOE) was founded by key figures in various U.S. iconic social justice movements: the Rev. James Lawson, Rev. Phil Lawson, Dr. Vincent Harding, Ms. Dolores Huerta, and Dr. Grace Lee Boggs. NCOE’s mission is to work in solidarity with young activists to solve problems in the present, to understand their analyses of contemporary struggles, and share elder knowledge and historical perspective. Members of the NCOE believe that such intergenerational dialogue and unity provide powerful energy to shepherd change.
Press On funding will support “20th Century Movement Elders: Passing the Torch, Engaging Current Struggles,” an oral history and podcast project archiving elders’ historic contributions to current movements.
New Orleans, Louisiana: Promised Land is a deep dive into the colonial roots of the eviction crisis in New Orleans. To uncover those roots, reporters Maria Murriel and Isis Madrid of Pizza Shark will investigate the systems both upholding the so-called American dream — and excluding specific people from it.
The Fund will support the production of an oral history multimedia newsletter and podcast in collaboration with housing justice advocates in the city.
Durham, North Carolina: Dr. Cynthia Greenlee holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina (Tar Heel, always) and a PhD in history from Duke, where she specialized in the late 19th century, African-Americans, gender, and the law. She’s a contributing editor at Scalawag and Catapult. In former professional lives, she was the deputy editor at the Southern Foodways Alliance and the senior editor with Rewire.News, the leading online publication about reproductive health, rights, and justice. She’s also at work on a book about African-Americans and abortion from 1860 to the present, and she’s been a mentor and advisor with Press On’s Freedomways Fellowship.
The Fund will support “We Eat, We Struggle,” a project that blends historical and journalistic research on the role restaurants in the South play in social and political change.
Dallas, Texas: Dallas Free Press is a nonprofit journalism outlet that amplifies voices in disinvested Dallas neighborhoods and explores solutions to the city’s systemic inequities. Keri Mitchell of the Dallas Free Press is partnering with Amber Sims of the Imagining Freedom Institute, which focuses on dismantling institutional and structural racism, providing historical analysis of inequitable policy and practices, and implementing equity and social justice.
Press On funding will support the production of a collaborative project that will tell the history of Black schools in Dallas, for publication in the Dallas Free Press and the Dallas Weekly, a legacy Black newspaper in South Dallas.
Louisville, Kentucky: #TeamStrangeFruit is Dr. Kaila Story, an Associate Professor of Womens, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Pan African Studies and the Audre Lorde Endowed Chair at the University of Louisville and Jaison Gardner, a longtime community activist. Their work seeks to examine Black gay life through the voices of those who live it.
The fund will support a multimedia platform that centers stories of Black and POC queer and trans folks through a podcast series, video segments, and photojournalism.
Read full announcement here.