Office for Civil Rights, Department of Education
August 6, 2023
OCR Complaint Filed
In 2022, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in connection with New York City-based nonprofit Black Public Media, launched a program entitled the “Black Public Media Residency” for “Black filmmakers, creative technologists and artists who need access to emerging technology, studio time or work space.“ The program was hailed as a collaboration between Black Public Media and the university’s Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts to address low Black representation in the industry and barriers to entry in purchasing and procuring training on specialized equipment.
The summer 2023 residency was conducted on the university’s campus in July as an one- to three-week experience with “access to specialized equipment, studio facilities and workspace … [and] formal instruction.” Each participant received a grant ranging from a $5,000 to $10,000 to fund their specific project.
Given one of the program’s explicit goals was “to develop the talent of producers of color,” eligible projects were required to have at least one “person of African descent” who was “in a key creative position.” Beyond that race-conscious criterion, an additional team member of the project was be eligible to participate, albeit at their own expense, and “[t]he second team member does not need to be Black or of African descent.”
Equal Protection Project is the Complainant in this matter, which is under evaluation by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.