YouTube Sets Originals Slate Focused on Black Voices, Racial Justice After Establishing $100M Creator Fund

Patrisse Cullors
Amy Harris/Invision/AP

YouTube announced a global slate of new and returning projects dedicated to amplifying Black voices and highlighting racial justice issues, including five new projects from its recently announced $100 million fund for Black creators.

The lineup includes documentary series “Resist” from executive producer Patrisse Cullors (pictured above), cofounder of Black Lives Matter; an HBCU homecoming livestream special; and a special looking at health issues in the Black community from Charles D. King and Macro Television Studios.

“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,” Malik Ducard, YouTube’s VP of content partnerships, said in announcing the slate. “Across YouTube, we have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to contribute to these conversations about racial justice in a meaningful way.”

According to YouTube, it will continue to invest funds from the $100 million YouTube Black Voices fund over the next three years to acquire and produce original programming with the aim of directly supporting Black creators and artists on YouTube. The first project from the fund was June’s “Bear Witness, Take Action,” a livestreamed special hosted by Common and Keke Palmer focused on racial justice issues that featured discussion panels, musical tributes and more.

Here are the new and returning originals from the YouTube Black Voices Fund:

  • “Resist” (premieres October 2020): 12-episode documentary series follows the grassroots work of multicultural and 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 features stories from BLM cofounder Patrisse Cullors, 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. Produced by Blackpills and Vice Media Group’s 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 Oct. 24): With historically Black colleges and universities cancelling their annual Homecomings due to the COVID pandemic, YouTube is launching a virtual celebration in partnership with Jesse Collins Entertainment and Live Nation Urban. The two-hour livestream will raise funds for the United Negro College Fund and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The special will feature musical performances, band performances from Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of the South and FAMU’s Marching 100, step performances, appearances from HBCU students, alumni and YouTube creators, and video packages representing the legacy of HBCUs. Executive producers 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” (premiering early 2021): Join the Onyx family, who have over 6 million combined subscribers on YouTube, for a multigenerational dinner-table conversation about life and what’s going on in the world featuring special weekly guests. Produced by Pocket.watch in association with Shine Global; executive produced by Keith Brown, Albie Hecht, the Onyx family and Chris M. Williams.
  • “Barbershop Medicine” (working title; premiering 2021): Special explores the impact race and socioeconomic status have on healthcare and longevity. The barbershop has long been a center of the Black community and drawing from this concept of community medicine, the special will bring together musicians, renowned physicians, YouTube creators and community members in a famous barbershop. The group will discuss today’s most pressing health concerns and raise awareness of issues ranging from vaccines to diabetes, and from cancer to mental health. Executive produced by Charles D. King, Marta Fernandez, Jelani Johnson, and Alisha Corpas Wynn for Macro Television Studios.

Below are upcoming and returning YouTube originals developed prior to the launch of YouTube’s Black content fund that also center on the global Black experience and address racial justice:

  • “Together We Rise” (currently streaming): Four-part docuseries following the journey of the two founders of YouTube channel Grime Daily, which grew from a platform to showcase emerging Black hip-hop and rap artists in the U.K. to today’s GRM Daily a multimedia conglomerate complete with a recording label and awards show. Executive producers are Kate Shepherd, Laura Collins and Post, produced by Warner Music Entertainment.
  • “Trapped: Cash Bail in America” (premieres Oct. 12): Every year, millions of Americans are incarcerated before even being convicted of a crime — because they can’t afford to post bail. The documentary shines a light on the U.S.’s flawed criminal justice system and the activists working to reform it. Produced and written by Chris L. Jenkins and edited and directed by Garrett Hubbard.
  • “BookTube” (special episode premieres Oct. 22): Bestselling author Jason Reynolds (“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You”) will be featured in a special episode of the monthly author discussion series. This episode will include an appearance by Dr. Ibram Kendi, who wrote “Stamped From the Beginning,” which Reynolds “remixed” in his own book. Directed by Nadia Hallgren (“Becoming,” “After Maria”) with director of photography Hans Charles (“13th,” “1 Angry Black Man”). The series is produced by Boardwalk Pictures.
  • “The Outsiders” (premiering February 2021): In this four-part series, Simon Frederick (“Black Is the New Black,” “They Gotta Have Us”) explores the voices of the young Black visionaries — writers, artists, performers, athletes, scientists, politicians and more — who have been excluded and marginalized by society, but turn the tables to become luminaries in their fields. Produced by Atelier Frederick AFL Films and directed by Simon Frederick.
  • “Glad You Asked” Season 2 (premiering February 2021): New season of the ensemble-led discussion series from Vox Media Studios will examine questions of racial justice and the impact of systemic racism in our communities and daily lives — from how ZIP codes determine our futures, to race and AI, education inequity, and food deserts.
  • “Lockdown” (new episodes premiere Nov. 19): YouTube ordered an additional six episodes of scripted kids’ series following six friends as they work together to solve a mystery in their neighborhood during the coronavirus social-distancing era. Shot entirely on webcams and smartphones, new episodes will explore issues of racial injustice, activism, and life’s frustrations during a pandemic. Series created and produced by Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment (“Dino Dana,” “Odd Squad”) with showrunners Aaron Bala and Lisa Codrington.