Mable Haddock, trailblazer who propelled black filmmakers, dies at 74

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Mable Haddock, the woman who supported independent black filmmakers for four decades with the National Black Programming Consortium, died Saturday. She was 74 years old.

Haddock died of kidney disease, which she had been battling for some time, in a New York hospital, according to Black Public Media.

Haddock was one of eight people who founded the NBPC in 1979. It was renamed Black Public Media in 2018. For 25 years, Haddock served as executive director of the organization, which fought for more black-designed and produced shows on audience and network television.

“My vision and idea has always been to share the achievements, contributions, beauty, talent and artistry of black people with the world,” Haddock said in a 2015 interview. “To help change the images that were perpetuated on black people through the mass media.”

The NBPC has supported hundreds of projects, including “Matters of Race”, “Unnatural Causes”, “Mandela”, “The Fannie Lou Hamer Story”, and “The State of Black America”. During his 25 years at the helm, Haddock spearheaded the grassroots organization sending $6 million to black filmmakers.

Haddock founded the NBPC in Columbus, Ohio, and later moved its headquarters to Harlem. During and after her time with the organization, Haddock has worn many hats in the film and television industry: writer for Dialogue magazine, panelist for the Ohio Arts Council and the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, and director of the Firelight Media Documentary lab, among many others. others.

But Haddock was no title-seeking boilerplate. In 1990, the NBPC awarded its first documentary award to “Tongues Untied”, a shameless film about black homosexuals. Haddock was stunned by the blowback, but she stood by her decision.

“I have been a woman all my life. And a black person all my life, but when people found out I was supporting this program — I thought I knew hate, I thought I knew sexism and racism, but hate — you could feel it,” a- she told author BJ Bullert for his 1997 book “Public Television: Politics and the Battle Over Documentary Film.”

“Tongues Untied” eventually aired on PBS and sparked national controversy.

Haddock’s work with the NBPC and throughout the television and film industry has led to numerous awards, including a New York Women in Film & Television Award and the Black Women’s Preservation Project Founders Awards, for name just two of dozens.

“As a black woman, having the privilege of being mentored by someone like Mable – one of the smartest and boldest women in documentary at the time – was like hitting the jackpot,” said said current Black Public Media executive director Leslie Fields-Cruz. . “Mable exemplified what it meant to be authentically black and feminine in a professional space. She was not afraid to speak truth to power, both verbally and in her writing.

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