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URL Media Weekly
Friday, January 7th, 2021
“I had a sense of responsibility not only to myself and to my time, but certainly to the people I represented. So I was charged with a responsibility to represent them in ways
that they would see and say, ‘OK, I like that.’”
—Sidney Poitier, 1927-2022

We honor and remember Sidney Poitier— Black, actor, change agent, Oscar winner. Poitier, 94, died this week leaving behind a legacy that includes reshaping access and opportunity for Black actors
coming behind him.
Hello, Friends:

I grew up about an hour north of Philadelphia in Hilltown, Pa., a rural, blue-collar community in Bucks County in the 1970s. Today we would describe it as a Trump stronghold. Then I was just a little Black girl in an all-white elementary school that reinforced the gospel of white supremacy quietly and completely.

Yesterday, on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection, the public school that I attended, Pennridge School District, directed its teachers to downplay one of the most important events in the history of American democracy: the attempted overthrow of a free and fair election by a racist white mob. In an email, the school board counseled that teachers should stick to “business as usual.” Not surprising since the president of the Pennridge School Board attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on Jan. 6. While everything about this is triggering to me personally, there are deeper and wider implications as we move into the 2022 midterm elections.

Pennsylvania is one of the most important battleground states in the nation. Philadelphia, which is almost 45 percent Black, is the political and economic engine of the state. As we move towards the 2022 midterms, it will be Philadelphia – and its surrounding suburbs (like Bucks County) – that will determine the fate of the state. We saw it in 2020. Philadelphia literally made the difference between Pennsylvania going red or blue. As the only Black-owned talk station in the state, WURD was at the heart of rallying Philly’s Black community to get out to vote. We will be at it again this year, beating the drum, urging everyone - Black, Brown, White – to vote like their lives depend on it, because it actually does. 


Sincerely,
Sara Lomax-Reese
Co-Founder, URL Media
CEO, WURD Radio
 

 What We're Talking About 

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the attacks on the U.S Capitol, and an assault on democracy that will long linger. On January 6th, 2021, white supremacists, militia members, and MAGA devotees having taken inspiration from then-President Donald Trump – stormed the Capitol in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. A year later, we know much more about who was behind the attacks but there are still many open questions. 
 
Over the summer, House Democrats created a special investigative committee - the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack — tasked with piecing together the events that led to the attack on the Capitol. Over the last six months, the committee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, have interviewed over 300 witnesses, sifted through a trove of documents including calls to a tip line. 
 
In several high-profile interviews, WURD Radio, offers analysis of the committee's investigation thus far, and what we can expect in the next several months. In this wide-ranging interview with Karl Racine, the attorney general of the District of Columbia, WURD Radio host Charles Ellison notably asked Racine about accountability for the attacks and what seems to be a slow-moving investigation.

Racine explains progress this way; “It is perfectly understandable for people who were horrified, frightened, and devastated to see the fragility of our democracy want instant action. The law, unfortunately, is not like ordering carry out pizza – it is a long process. Investigations take time and I have faith — I do — in the Department of Justice that they are working diligently. Sadly, we have to be patient — as an impatient person — I am practicing patience myself.”
 
Here's a roundup of WURD Radio's reflections on the day, including interviews with:

 Uplifting our Communities 

Eleven Urgent New Year's Resolutions: New year. New COVID19 variant. From masking to vaccinating to testing and leveraging data, what are the lessons gleaned from the pandemic as experienced in the epicenter? As we begin year three of the pandemic, Epicenter NYC shares a list of urgent New Year's resolutions for New York City and beyond.

 

Analysis: What's next for Haiti?: A surge in gang violence, including a spate of kidnappings, across Haiti is hampering the local government's efforts to stabilize and rebuild the country after last Summer's devastating earthquake and the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise. The year 2021 was also marked by displacement; nearly 30,000 Haitians, many of whom lived in Chile or Brazil for years, attempted to cross the U.S. southern border in September. The Haitian Times offers this analysis on the challenges ahead, and what role the diaspora will need to play to help uplift the island nation.

Representation in Schools: Over the last four years, elected officials in Minnesota have been pushing to diversify the teacher ranks in its public schools. In that same period, the local legislature provided $30 million to recruit and retain diverse teachers, tripling previous funding levels. The investment is now paying off. But financial investment alone isn't responsible for the progress in Minnesota —central to the dramatic changes are students, teachers, and parents of color. Sahan Journal reports on how the investments are “historic” both in Minnesota and nationally.
Video Games & White Supremacy: "Wake Up with WURD" radio host Solomon Jones offers an insightful and thought-provoking interview with Daniel Kelley, director of strategy and operations for the Anti-Defamation League's Center for Technology and Society about how video games are being used to spread white supremacy.
Speak Up, Go to Jail: Across Latin America many journalists are imprisoned or detained for simply doing their jobs. Facing this looming threat, 45 Latin American journalists went into exile this past year alone. While the ranks of jailed reporters in countries like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba continue to grow —palabra. shines a spotlight on the increasing threat to the free flow of information and ideas in the region. 
TBN24's analysis of the Jan. 6 insurrection offers viewers more depth, context and nuance around the attack on the U.S. Capitol a year ago — with important updates on where we are now. The broadcast also offers critical information on the latest news about the Omicron variant as well as a discussion on immigrant visas to the U.S. 

 Respecting & Honoring Arts & Culture 

Ancestral Medicine for All: As a farm kid in South Dakota, Megan Schnitker learned about Indigenous medicines from her Lakota uncle and great-grandmother. Now she’s sharing the Native plant-based remedies for sale at a new store in Minnesota. Sahan Journal details why Schnitker’s Lakota Made herbal tinctures, soaps and salves are appealing to a broader customer-base.
 

 Centering Love 

One Shot : Nitin “Nick” Oza wasn’t a man of many words, but he had a big heart. He used photojournalism to capture the plight of people impacted by deportation and family separation. palabra  pays tribute to the late award-winning photojournalist whose photo of a father praying at the border led his daughter to find and reunite with him.
 

Honoring Love Across Generations:It was a nugget of an idea— a gesture really —intended to honor and show gratitude for her grandfather. Megan Jones quietly arranged for a "flamboyantly gay" photo shoot to honor his impact on her own bisexual identity. Soon, the photo shoot turned into a community-wide celebration centered around acceptance and gay love in the South. Scalawag shares this story of coming out in the age of censure.

 What We're Loving This Week From Our Partners 

Growth in Muslim Representation: A ceremonial book of the Qur’an is a living record of the strides made by Muslims in Minnesota. Sahan Journal shares this profile about the special Qur’an which holds the signature of almost every Minnesota Muslim elected to office. Three Minneapolis city council members elected in November are the latest to sign their name to the book —which commemorates the growing political representation of Muslims in the state over the last decade.

What to do if you lose your vax card?: The small piece of card stock that proves you are vaccinated against COVID19 is so easy to lose -- or for that matter can easily become tattered and torn and illegible. Epicenter-NYC shares some news we can all use — this story outlines some practical and useful tips for what to do if you lose that pesky little card, the CDCs COVID-19 vaccination record card. You'll want to bookmark this story and pull up in an emergency. 
Happy New Year! Watch highlights from URL Media's inaugural year; here we reflect on some of the deeply impactful reporting from our partners and share how we will continue to shake up the media landscape in 2022!

 The URLs on URL 

URL Media is recognized as one of the top 10+ journalism collaborations of 2021! Each year, the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University in New Jersey selects a short list of the most impactful, interesting and useful collaborations among media makers around the world. We are proud to join the ranks of so many stellar journalism organizations changing the way we do our work.

The International Women's Media Foundation named our co-founder S. Mitra Kalita as one of 2021's Women to Watch.  The IWMF selects a shortlist of women in the media that are changing the narrative; 
Mitra is recognized for shifting the media narrative with the 2021 launch of this network, URL Media, a consortium of high performing Black and Brown owned local media outlets. Congrats Mitra! 

Since our last newsletter, Documented has launched a new website. Do check it out and an explanation on the hows and whys here

Congratulations to Sahan Journal executive director Mukhtar Ibrahim who is among 27 news executives in the Media Transformation Challenge at the Poynter Institute. He is a Google News Initiative fellow. You can read more about the program and its challenge-based approach to leadership training. Incidentally, the program is the same one where our co-founders Sara and Mitra forged their bond. 

 Join URL Media Events 

WURD RADIO: If you are in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area join Solomon Jones and WURD Radio at 7:30 p.m.ET on Jan. 19 at the Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine St., for a free live event centered around his new book, "Ten Lives, Ten Demands: Life-and-Death Stories, and a Black Activist's Blueprint for Racial Justice.Click here to register for the event. 

In "Ten Lives, Ten Demands," Jones tells the stories of real people whose lives and deaths pushed the Black Lives Matter movement forward. He explains how each act of violence was incited by specific instances of structural racism, and details concrete and actionable strategies to address crimes committed by our “justice” system. 

 Our Founders 

Sara Lomax-Reese, CEO of WURD Radio, Media entrepreneur of almost 30 years, served as Program Lead for the inaugural Facebook BIPOC Sustainability Accelerator and currently JSK Fellow.
S. Mitra Kalita, former SVP at CNN Digital, current CEO & Publisher at Kalita Mukul Creative Inc., has worked at Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, and has launched brands like Mint and Quartz.

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