An Exquisite Truth

Earlier today at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, I participated in the annual meeting of North Carolina Network of Grantmakers (NCNG). Joining me on the panel were CIN members Tim McIntosh and Darryl Lester. Our session on bold and unconventional philanthropy drew an audience of over 80 people, who listened intently and posed thoughtful questions.

Over lunch, Martin Eakes, founder of Self-Help, delivered a stirring and, at times, eyebrow-raising keynote message about moving people from “poverty to justice” and the possibilities and responsibilities of philanthropy, today and into the future. His speech punctuated the words and philanthropic deeds of the panelists in my session. In wrapping up, Martin shared a passage from one of his favorite quotes (and mine, too), which is featured in Giving BackIf only more work in philanthropy were threaded with this exquisite truth.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” ― Frederick Douglass

‘A great tradition of giving, sharing and caring’

Mr. and Mrs. Jones, parents of Melandee Jones | Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

“The humility, sincerity and genuine spirit of African American philanthropy are what move me the most. There is not a sense of needing to advertise or make political plays—it’s a sincere desire to help another human being, and that is the true meaning of philanthropy. Our community is great at this and has a great tradition of giving, sharing and caring.”

— Melandee Jones, member of New Generation of African American Philanthropists with a tribute story about her parents featured in the book Giving Back

A Peachy Good Time

“This book shares the stories of men and women whose philanthropy, big or small, is an indelible part of American history. Through their individual and collective generosity, children were educated, families were strengthened, communities were built and their legacy is a bridge for the next generation. On each page, I recognized—if not by name—the spirit of someone I know and respect. These lessons on the ‘love of humankind’ are universal.” — Deborah J. Richardson, executive vice president, National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Our Giving Back book event in Atlanta last week was a delight, and Charles and I are grateful to Deborah Richardson of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights for the opportunity to engage such a warm audience. As a setting, the Georgia-Pacific Auditorium was perfectly located in the heart of downtown on Peachtree Street. The NCCHR staff was professional, thorough and attentive to Charles and me as well as to every detail.

Image

Photo caption: Photographer Charles Thomas with portrait of his mother on stage screen at the Georgia-Pacific Auditorium in Atlanta. Event photography by Alex Johnson III.

Not only did we sell a lot of books, we met lots of great people affiliated with a wide range of foundations, networks, nonprofits and communities. We look forward to pursuing the newest opportunities presented in Atlanta, which include speaking at upcoming conferences and engaging groups of youth and college students.

Our deepest gratitude goes to our event sponsors and co-hosts in Atlanta:

  • National Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • African American Development Officers Network
  • The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
  • The Community Foundation For Greater Atlanta
  • Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization
  • National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter
  • Southeastern Network of African Americans in Philanthropy
  • Southeastern Council of Foundations

I’m personally thankful for the friends, family members and giving circle members who came to the event and helped us set up, sell books, feel supported and then, afterward, celebrate!

Mr. and Mrs. Jones

“Light glorifies everything. It transforms and ennobles the most commonplace and ordinary subjects.” — Leonard Misonne, photographer

One of the stories featured in Giving Back pays tribute to Carlotta and Johnnie Jones—ordinary people with an extraordinary philanthropic spirit. Faith and long family traditions provide light for their path of generous giving. The Jones’s firm beliefs and lifelong example inspired their daughter Melandee to share her story for the book.

Their enlightened family legacy lives on. Melandee serves on the boards of Arts For Life, BDPA and Citizen Schools. She also is member of New Generation of African American Philanthropists, a giving circle that gives back. — VF

MISTER JONES | Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

Amplifying Our Stories…New Lines of Sight, New Voices

Here’s yesterday’s interview with Charles, me and host Frank Stasio on WUNC’s public radio program “The State of Things.” Please listen.

Photo credit: Charles W. Thomas, Jr.

1621 Days

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ― Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning author

After one thousand, six hundred and twenty-one days, I can, at long last, announce the publication and arrival of Giving Back: A Tribute to African American Philanthropists—a new book that reframes portraits of philanthropy. Hallelujah!!!

Buy the book…and read more about Giving Back on these sites:

Valaida Fullwood (author), Charles W. Thomas Jr. (photographer) and Casajulie (cover and book designer)

Loop21.com Interview: Generosity in Black Communities

Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

I just returned from an amazing weekend on St. Helena Island where the CIN Leadership Summit took place (more on that experience later). While participating in the Summit, I had a phone interview with Joi-Marie McKenzie of Loop21.com about my new book Giving Back.

New Book Celebrates Generations of African Americans Giving Back, author interview by Joi-Marie McKenzie, Loop21.com

More interviews, book reviews and commentary on Giving Back can be found here, here and here.

For a truer, deeper understanding of American philanthropy

[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

CLT ViewPoint book review: ‘Remarkable and lush imagery, interviews, anecdotes’

Today, Charlotte ViewPoint posted a book review by Michael Solender on Giving Back. Below are excerpts, and the complete review can be found here.

“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

Click, for further book reviews and commentary on Giving Back.

The Links: Threading Together Our Communities with Philanthropy

Charles W. Thomas Jr, photographer

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.

National President of The Links Margot James Copeland recently contributed this commentary on Giving Back and on her organization’s powerful legacy of giving back.

“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