“[Giving Back] is a must read for all who want a truer and deeper understanding of American philanthropy in particular philanthropy in the Black community. Historical analysis and rich personal stories…it’s all here.”
— Wenda Weekes Moore, trustee, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
An interview about Giving Back posted on QCityMetro.com today. It’s my interview with Michaela Duckett, who frequently profiles authors on what is one of Charlotte’s most popular blogs. Among other things, Michaela reveals five things about me. Most of them were probably little-known facts and trivia…that is, until today.
by Michaela L. Duckett, 28 September 2011
Deeper discussions about philanthropy and more mindful giving are ongoing aims of the Giving Back Project. The book Giving Back, a centerpiece of the project, is designed to become a springboard for such conversation and strategic giving. Driving forces for NGAAP’s project are a desire to reclaim the root meaning of philanthropy—love of humankind—and a resolve to build bridges between “conventional” philanthropy and the centuries-old philanthropic traditions flourishing in Black communities, for the sake of every community.
Project photographer Charles Thomas shared with me that after a recent lecture on a college campus, the first question posed by a student was: “What is philanthropy?” That’s the central question we explore in Giving Back. Through inquiry, interviews and images, Charles and I engaged over 200 Black donors and asked such questions as: How do you define philanthropy? Juxtaposing photographs and narratives, Giving Back illuminates transcendent truths and elicits new thinking about philanthropy.
We look forward to connecting with schools, colleges and youth programs to engage students, educators and others around the content, themes and questions presented in Giving Back.
Foundation executive Dr. Ivye Allen commented on the promise Giving Back holds to become an educational tool that can enlighten readers and inspire greater giving.
“Giving Back is a must have book for all! It brings to life African American giving and highlights philanthropic acts that many of us perform daily without naming it ‘philanthropy.’ The combination of photographs and narrative effectively reframes the dialogue on philanthropy, particularly among the unsung heroes and heroines contributing to daily growth and prosperity in our communities.
“A must have book of our history and a great teaching toolkit!”
— Ivye L. Allen, Ph.D., president and CEO, Foundation for the Mid South
“Giving Back is a Fullwood project several years in the making and documents the rich history and core values within the Black community of giving time, talent, and treasure to others. Fullwood partnered with photographer Charles W. Thomas Jr. to tell more than 60 stories through remarkable and lush imagery, interviews, and anecdotes.
“The book is a testament to the storied tradition of centuries-old customs that endure throughout the African Diaspora. Fullwood notes that during slavery and its aftermath in America, communities would have perished without the generosity, innovation, and sacrifices of their members. While rarely recognized as philanthropists, the members of these communities most certainly were just that. …
“Giving Back is a joyous exultation at the power of the human spirit. Few pleasures in life offer as much satisfaction as doing for others; this remarkable book celebrates the legacy of the legions within our community who discovered this succor in a significant and meaningful way.”
— Michael J. Solender, City Life Editor for Charlotte Viewpoint
“The Danger of A Single Story,” the TED Talk by the writer Chimamanda Adichie, is an enlightening presentation. Chimamanda conveys the power of stories and reaffirms, for me, why Giving Back and its vast array of counter-narratives about African Americans and philanthropy are important.
Pushing through this prickly path to publishing Giving Back has prompted a blog post or two. And if the last quarter proves to be the last mile, then its reputation for being the longest and hardest part of the journey is woefully understated. Surely gentler trails and greener places lie ahead. Favoring rose metaphors, I concede the truth of what Anne Brontë knew: “But he who dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.” Pointed reminders of the duality of my striving arrive daily.
One morning last week, I confided my struggles, as is not uncommon, to a close and longtime friend. Michelle has kindly lent her ear…shoulder…hand…brilliant mind…literary sensibilities…and enormous heart, at precisely the right time over the past fifty-some months. (Actually, my dearest friends all seem gifted with exquisite timing.)
On this day, however, pressure seemed to grip me particularly tight. Following an email exchange with Michelle for quick comfort, I resumed my laser-sharp focus on work. A requisite aptitude for writers. Dog barking. Stomach growling. Phone buzzing. Doorbell ringing. And I shut it out to meet a pressing deadline.
Breaking momentarily from my mind’s cloister, I clunked down the stairs to the feed the dog, fix some lunch, check messages, et cetera, et cetera…but as I approached the foyer I glimpsed it. On the porch, peering through the glass-paned door: a flower delivery. Roses. Michelle knows.
And her card to me read . . .
Giving Back illuminates traditions of giving within African American communities and highlights numerous historic organizations that exemplify Black philanthropy. One such organization is The Links, Incorporated. Links members Dr. Ruth Greene (The Crown Jewels Chapter) and Carlenia Ivory (The Charlotte Chapter) are featured in the book.
“In 2011, The Links, Incorporated celebrates 65 years of giving back to communities across the nation. Our founders believed that as educated and successful African American women, we should do whatever is necessary to serve those of African descent and assist in closing gaps in education and providing support for the underserved. We do this still today, through philanthropic as well as humanitarian services. As authors Fullwood and Thomas expressed in Giving Back, philanthropy has been the thread that held and continues to hold our communities together. The Links, Incorporated strives to become an even greater force, known everywhere for our philanthropic support. Our hope is by giving back, we will play an intricate role in enabling and influencing a positive future for an infinite number of generations. ”
— Margot James Copeland , National President , The Links, Incorporated and The Links Foundation, Incorporated
Book review by acclaimed book and film critic Kam Williams, excerpted from his blog.
“’To whom much is given, much is expected.’
This Biblical passage from the Gospel of Luke conveys a belief that I and many of my African American family and friends hold dear… We are acutely aware of what others have given up to pave the way and contribute to our successes. As a result, we share a sense of responsibility about honoring and sustaining that legacy…
While this cultural legacy of giving back prevails today, it is often overlooked by mainstream society and rarely celebrated within the African American community… Media coverage and reports of prominent philanthropic leaders and institutions advance a false view which places African Americans only on the demand side, not the supply side of philanthropy.
The truth of the matter: African Americans give 8.6% of their discretionary income to charity—more than any other racial group in America.” — Excerpted from the Preface (pgs. xviii-xix)
Cultivated by ancestors in Africa for ages, black folks’ spirit of philanthropy was ingrained way before their arrival on these shores. During the slave days, it was evident in the altruism of fugitive Harriet Tubman who risked recapture to help others in chains find their way to freedom via the Underground Railroad.
Such behavior has basically been the rule, rather than the exception, for a people whose very survival has often depended on selfless displays of compassion towards the least of our brethren. For, as mentor Michael Sales points out, “What’s most remarkable is that even as we help those who are at risk, we ourselves are often at risk at the same time.”
This attitude persists despite the still precarious position of those African-Americans living above the subsistence level who have managed to extricate themselves from poverty. Giving Back is an uplifting opus celebrating the generosity of charitably-inclined blacks, a touching tribute told in portraits, proverbs, anecdotes and micro-biographies.
The book is the brainchild of idea whisperer Valaida Fullwood who collaborated with award-winning photographer Charles W. Thomas, Jr. to create a visually-captivating, coffee table book chock full of intimate homages to unsung heroes as well as inspirational sayings like the sage notion courtesy of Frederick Douglass that “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
An overdue salute to an underappreciated segment of African-American society.
The Sly Fox Film Reviews publishes the content of film critic Kam Williams. Voted Most Outstanding Journalist of the Decade by the Disilgold Soul Literary Review in 2008, Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications around the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada and the Caribbean. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee and Rotten Tomatoes. More at: www.kamwilliams.com
Advance commentary on Giving Back can be found here.
I reach but cannot grasp words to plumb the depth of my gratification and overwhelming joy when previewers of Giving Back share their reactions to its stories and photography. A long hope has been that the book would move readers and perchance enlighten and deepen their thinking and giving, for good. This is commentary received last night . . .
“This is the most powerful representation of philanthropy that I have seen in more than a decade in this field. The stories, the quotes, the voices and the photographs are uniformly vivid and extraordinary….A reminder that, in its roots, philanthropy should be felt, not thought.”
— Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO, The California Endowment