YouTube Announces New Original Series ‘Dedicated to Amplifying Black Voices’

HBCU Homecoming 2020: Meet Me On The Yard (Credit: YouTube)

YouTube on Wednesday unveiled the first slate of shows to come out of its $100 million fund dedicated to supporting Black creators and artists.

The platform’s #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund will be used to acquire and produce YouTube Originals programming focused on Black experiences around the world. Among the projects is HBCU Homecoming 2020: Meet Me On The Yard (pictured above).

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“YouTube is committed to spotlighting community-driven storytelling and the important issues that people of color and other marginalized communities face everyday,” Susanne Daniels, global head of original content for YouTube Originals said in a statement.

“Race has never been an easy issue to confront but the events over the last few months have opened up doors of dialogue and action that had once seemed closed,” added Malik Ducard, YouTube’s vice president of content partnerships. “Through our $100 million content fund and other initiatives, we are continuing the important work of amplifying Black voices, making YouTube a better place for Black creators, educating people on the diversity of the Black experience, and centering Black people as the messengers of their own stories.”

Below are details on the slate from the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund:

Series premieres October 2020
This 12 episode documentary series follows the grassroots work of multicultural/intersectional organizations fighting the Los Angeles county’s $3.5 billion jail expansion plan in 2018 and examines the issues of cash bail, unlawful arrest, over-policing of Black and brown neighborhoods, and mass incarceration. The series is an emotional look into the motivations and daily struggles of the movement workers on the ground, featuring incredibly inspiring stories from Patrisse Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter), members of JusticeLA including Jayda Rasberry of Dignity and Power Now, Helen Jones of Dignity and Power Now and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Bamby Salcedo of TransLatina Coalition, and Johnathan Perez of Immigrant Youth Coalition. The docuseries is produced by Blackpills and Pulse Films. Executive Producers are Patrisse Cullors, Dream Hampton, Mervyn Marcano, Thomas Benski, Marisa Clifford, Robin Frank, Tani Ikeda, Kai Bowe, Davey Spens, Clara Levy and Philipe Haim.

HBCU Homecoming 2020: Meet Me On The Yard
Livestream Premieres October 24
With HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) across the country cancelling their annual Homecomings due to the global pandemic, YouTube in partnership with Jesse Collins Entertainment and Live Nation Urban will take the momentous celebration virtual. This two-hour livestream will be filled with homecoming traditions to raise funds for the United Negro College Fund who plan to split 50% with Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Expect musical performances, band performances from Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of The South, and FAMU’s Marching 100, Step performances, as well as appearances from students, alumni, YouTube creators and inspirational video packages representing the legacy of HBCUs. Executive Producers of “HBCU Homecoming 2020: Meet Me On The Yard” are Jesse Collins, Shawn Gee, Dionne Harmon, Brandon Pankey, and Chris Wagner.

Bear Witness, Take Action Part Two (working title)
Livestream Premieres December 2020
Following the success of the first “Bear Witness, Take Action” special, which was the first YouTube Originals project to come from YouTube’s $100M Black content fund, Part Two will again inspire the platform’s global community to take action for racial justice uniting YouTube creators, public figures, and influential voices. In addition to the livestream, “Bear Witness, Take Action” Part Two will feature unique voices from the Black community producing short form content to share their perspectives and experiences on racial inequity, which will live on YouTube. Viewers will be encouraged to donate to racial justice initiatives directly on the YouTube livestream. The special is produced by the SpringHill Company, Fly On The Wall Entertainment, and Byron Phillips. Reginald Hudlin serves as Executive Producer and Showrunner.

Onyx Family Dinner
Premieres Early 2021
Join the Onyx Family (6M+ combined subscribers) for the dinner table conversation you wish your family had! This new Kids & Families series gathers the multi-generational family for plenty of fun and open conversations about life and what’s going on in the world over dinner. Weekly dinner guests broaden the conversation with different perspectives, thought provoking stories, subject matter expertise and valuable insights. Produced by in association with Shine Global, “Onyx Family Dinner” stars the Onyx Family and is executive produced by Keith Brown, Albie Hecht, the Onyx Family, and Chris M.Williams.

Barbershop Medicine (working title)
Premieres 2021
In Barbershop Medicine YouTube aims to put the “public” back in Public Health, exploring the impact race and socioeconomic status have on healthcare and longevity. The barbershop has long been a center of community, as captured in the landmark clinical trial of blood-pressure reduction that delivered education and care in barbershops. Drawing from this concept of community medicine, the special will bring together musicians, renowned physicians, Creators and community members in a storied barbershop to discuss today’s most pressing health concerns and raise awareness – from vaccines to diabetes, cancer to mental health, and beyond. The special will be executive produced by Charles D. King, Marta Fernandez, Jelani Johnson, and Alisha Corpas Wynn for MACRO Television Studios.

The following programs were developed prior to the launch of YouTube’s Black Content Fund, but also center on the global Black experience.

Together We Rise
Streaming Now on GRM Daily’s YouTube Channel
Eleven years ago, Grime Daily was just a YouTube channel started by two young entrepreneurs who were focused on providing a platform for emerging Black hip hop and rap artists in the UK to showcase their work. Fast forward to present, GRM Daily is one of the largest media platforms in the UK, complete with a recording label and awards show. This four-part series focuses on the journey from YouTube channel to media empire. Executive Producers are Kate Shepherd, Laura Collins and Post, produced by Warner Music Entertainment.

Trapped: Cash Bail in America
Premieres October 12
Every year, millions of Americans are incarcerated before even being convicted of a crime – all because they can’t afford to post bail. How did we get here? “Trapped: Cash Bail in America” shines a light on our deeply flawed criminal justice system and the activists working to reform it. This new documentary explores the growing movement to end the inherent economic and racial inequalities while highlighting victims impacted by an unjust system, the tireless campaigners fighting for criminal justice reform, and a bail industry lobbying to maintain the status quo. “Trapped: Cash Bail in America” is produced and written by Chris L. Jenkins and edited and directed by Garrett Hubbard.

Special Episode Premieres October 22
The monthly learning series featuring the world’s most renowned authors is back with a special October episode spotlighting #1 New York Times bestselling author, Jason Reynolds (“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You”). This special episode will feature dynamic videos from popular BookTube and YouTube creators, an interview with author Jason Reynolds, and a special appearance by Dr. Ibram Kendi, who wrote “Stamped from the Beginning”, which Reynolds “remixed” to bring us “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You.” This episode of BookTube is directed by Nadia Hallgren (“Becoming,” “After Maria”) and the Director of Photography is Hans Charles (“13th,” “1 Angry Black Man”). The series is produced by Boardwalk Pictures.

The Outsiders
Premieres February 2021
In this 4 part series, Simon Frederick (Black is the New Black, They Gotta Have Us) uses his signature style to explore the voices of the young Black visionaries who to date have been excluded and marginalised by society because of the color of their skin. Viewers will learn how these young Black visionaries have turn the tables on the very same society that excluded them in the first place, to become the luminaries of our time: the writers, artists, performers, athletes, scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs and business leaders who have made it against the odds and are shaping their new cultural reality landscape. “The Outsiders” is produced by Atelier Frederick AFL Films and directed by Simon Frederick.

Glad You Asked Season 2
New Season Premieres February 2021
YouTube Originals has greenlit a second season of the Emmy-nominated series, “Glad You Asked” – an ensemble-led exploration of topics driven by our curiosity about the world around us. Using Vox’s signature explainer format, season two will examine incredibly timely questions around racial justice and the impact of systemic racism in our communities and daily lives – from how our zipcodes determine our futures, to race and A.I., education inequity, and food deserts. Bringing a number of diverse and varied backgrounds together, this season will spotlight guest hosts and the world’s foremost experts to offer an experiential journey that empowers audiences to better understand their world. The series is produced by Vox Media Studios.

New Episodes Premiere November 19
YouTube Originals has ordered an additional 6 episodes of the award winning scripted Kids & Families series that follows six friends as they work together to solve a mystery in their neighborhood during the social distancing era. Shot entirely via webcam and smartphone, new “Lockdown” episodes will explore timely issues on racial injustice, activism, and life’s frustrations during a pandemic. The series is created and produced by Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment (“Dino Dana,” “Endlings,” “Odd Squad”) and these new episodes feature a diverse roster of writing and directing talent led by showrunners Aaron Bala and Lisa Codrington.