Giving Rooted in History and Culture

Last week, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. came to Charlotte to deliver his lecture “Finding Your Roots” and I was project manager of the nearly sold-out event hosted by the Gantt Center. Luckily I was able to share my book as a gift to him . . . and have a friend snap this photo.

#getyourgiveon

Dr Gates

#GetYourGiveOn

Here’s your invitation!

You're invited!

We’re Bringing ‘Giving Back’ at Poor Richard’s Book Shoppe is a free and family-friendly gathering, centered on Black Philanthropy. The evening of the 23rd will include:

Poor Richard’s, a family-operated business in uptown Charlotte, is a full-service, independent bookstore and multi-cultural venue.

New Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP-Charlotte), a CIN giving circle, comprises member-donors who pursue a mission “to promote philanthropy—the giving of time, talent and treasure—among African Americans in the Charlotte region, with the goal of enhancing the quality of life within our communities.”

We’re aiming to do for philanthropy what Justin does for sexy. Well…we’re certainly trying.

— VF

Shifting from ‘Me’ to Movement of Conscientious Philanthropy

Listen to my recent conversation with Tavis Smiley about Black philanthropy and Giving Back on his nationally syndicated radio program, The Tavis Smiley Show.

During the interview, Tavis questions whether any hope remains in rekindling a spirit of compassion and generosity in a culture that seems to be degenerating and glorifying a me-and-mine mentality. Hear my response . . . and then share yours here.

The book Giving Back is a centerpiece of the Giving Back Project, which aims to ignite a movement of conscientious philanthropy by empowering a generation to recognize their power and responsibility to give back.

The interview airs on The Tavis Smiley Show through Friday, May 25. Tune in and then share the link and your thoughts. — VF

Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

UPenn Scholar Marybeth Gasman: ‘Beautiful book that masterfully demonstrates the power of African American giving’

Our most recent advance commentary comes from Dr. Marybeth Gasman, professor, University of Pennsylvania and author of Uplifting a People: African American Philanthropy and Education and thirteen other books.

Giving Back is a beautiful book that masterfully demonstrates the power of African American giving. Through riveting photography and engaging vignettes, Valaida Fullwood tells the story of philanthropy at its purest. Giving Back showcases the diversity in giving that has taken place for centuries and continues to thrive in Black communities.  Anyone interested in philanthropy, Black giving, and African American history and culture will enjoy reading this wonderful new book.”

(I sense a new word cloud forming. Check in tomorrow.)

A Gem Indeed

While previewing the manuscript for Giving Back, Ruby Bright, a foundation executive, told me, “I turn each page being filled with pride, hope, joy and love for my people.” That statement was compliment enough, then she sent the extended commentary below, which left me speechless.

Charles W. Thomas, Jr., photographer

“Never again will I frame my conversation on how African Americans give under the guises of ‘Black people give differently—our philanthropy is different because we primarily see giving through our faith.’ We give holistically!

“Valaida Fullwood’s Giving Back captivated me from the cover photo where I connected with the hands—memories of my grandmother’s skin—lined with dreams deferred and the promise of aspirations and achievement. Giving Back is indeed a form of personal engagement as well as deep conversation sharing. It is undeniably the missing formula to the roots of African American philanthropy.

“Simply stated, “Giving Back, through stories of everyday people aided with photography of the moment, is poignant and more of a revelation than any article or research publication on the topic of African American giving.

“Since reading Giving Back, from now on, I will tell my philanthropy story with pride and without excuses or apologies.”

 Ruby Bright, executive directorWomen’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis

When Quiet Hopes Come

Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

Selected advance readers of Giving Back have begun sharing their commentary on the book over the last week. With an easy willingness, both strangers and acquaintances known widely for intense work and demanding itineraries have, one by one, agreed to read my 400-page manuscript. That astounds me. And then, after reading the work, one responds with these words . . .

“Through a rich tapestry of voices and images, including inspirational interviews, stunning photographs, thoughtful commentary, and wide-ranging quotations, Giving Back captures the essence and generosity of African American donors as never before.  No one—including the leaders of non-profit organizations—could fail to be moved and enlightened by these vivid reminders of the potential of African American philanthropy.

“The book is beautiful and so inspirational, I now know what I will be getting everyone as a Christmas present!”

Michele Minter, Vice President for Development, The College Board

Still over the moon.

— VF