Multi-Generational Stories Unfolded

Charles W. Thomas, Jr. photographer

One surprising aspect of Giving Back that emerged during its development was the telling of multi-generational stories. At the project’s conception, I envisioned a predominance of stories featuring unsung community elders and longtime, yet little-known philanthropists.

Charles W. Thomas, Jr., photographer

I presumed my peers and others would choose retirees, older mentors and family members from earlier generations to honor with a story in Giving Back. While many people chose such honorees, a surprising number instead shared a story about their contemporaries, up-and-coming givers and youth. Some told stories about a spouse, an admired friend, a youthful mentee or a group of young professionals forming a giving circle. Others contributed stories on how their children and concern for younger generations shaped their philanthropy. Even more unexpected, several teenagers and younger children became story contributors.

This refreshing twist in the book’s content added new dimensions and deepened the meaning of its subtitle, “A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists.” Here are a few of the teenagers profiled in Giving Back:

  • Jelani (16 y.o.), a participant of The Males Place, is demonstrating philanthropic leadership through his engagement with peers, volunteerism in the community and giving spirit.
  • Olivia (17 y.o.) founded PEN Pals Book Club and Support Group for children with incarcerated parents.
  • Bailand (17 y.o.), senior class president at Parkland High School, shared how his grandmother encourages his community service through the Boy Scouts and at church and school.

Their stories instill hope for future generations and embody the enduring legacy of Black philanthropy. — VF

“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, and fulfill it or betray it.” — Frantz Fanon

Charles W. Thomas, Jr., photographer

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