The Burton Wire is sad to report Peabody Award-winning director and longtime former executive director of National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC)—now Black Public Media—has died. Her death was announced by Black Public Media (BPM), which Jones headed from 2005 to 2014. She died after a brief hospitalization in Washington, DC., at the age of 52.
“Words cannot express how deeply saddened we are. In the field, Jacquie was our fiercest advocate, encouraging all of us—media makers, administrators, leaders—to take risks, and to fully explore what public media can be for a diverse America,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, executive director of BPM, the nation’s only nonprofit organization dedicated solely to media content about the Black experience. “She demanded so much more than just the status quo, and lead by example. She will be sorely missed, but her legacy and impact at Black Public Media, on public media and to me personally will resonate for many years to come. Our sincere condolences go out to her family.”
A champion of Black film and Black content-producers, Jones dedicated her life to creating a sacred and respected space for black voices and culture, first as an editor of the Black Film Review and later as a producer, content creator and visionary leader at BPM. As executive director of the media arts organization, Jones expanded the focus of the nonprofit from public television to include digital media and she founded the New Media Institute that went on to train more than 500 media professionals in the tools needed to navigate the digital world. Under her leadership, the organization launched the Public Media Corps to link underserved communities with both broadband-enabled public media resources and social media tools. She also helped launch the group’s signature public television series AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange.
Jones was a talented director, receiving Peabody and Gracie awards for the 2013 NBPC documentary series, 180 Days: A Year Inside An American High School. Her other television credits included Africans in America—which also won a Peabody Award—and Matters of Race for PBS, From Behind Closed Doors: Sex in the 20th Century for Showtime and The World Before Us for the History Channel.
“Jacquie was a believer and effective champion for independent media and human rights. She was also funny, feisty, razor-sharp smart and the most strong-willed, determined person I know.” said organization Founder Mable Haddock. “BPM and everyone who came into contact with her suffered a great loss today. But we are comforted by the evidence of her love and life well lived every breath we take.”
“Jacquie was a friend and mentor to me and so many in public media,” stated BPM Director of Programs and Acquisitions Kay Shaw. “She inspired emerging and experienced content makers alike with her talent and intellect, and led as she lived—with grace and purpose.” The Howard University alumna is survived by her husband Grant Clark, daughter Ayanna, parents Claire A. Jones (D.C) and Humphrey C. Jones (Miami) and a brother.