Love, Leadership and Justice

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Atlanta exhibition opens on the cusp of yearlong commemorations of
MLK’s profound messages and legacy, 50 years after his death
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Happening Now >>> THE GIVING SEASON

Just for you! Thanksgiving food for thought, a fresh crop of photos, new film and an abundance of gratitude


The Atlanta exhibition of The Soul of Philanthropy opened November 1st with a burst of energy and excitement, further kindling powerful ideas and ushering infinite possibilities for the future of Black philanthropic leadership, propelled from the South.

The exhibit’s stories, themes and imagery are timely and resonant as Atlanta and the nation prepare to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s death and celebrate his enduring legacy throughout 2018.

Watch Love, Leadership and Justice from Atlanta’s VIP reception and exhibition ribbon-cutting. It’s our newest short film in a series from the Giving Back Project, featuring sights and sounds from exhibitions of The Soul of Philanthropy.

Come to see philanthropy differently.


“The future of philanthropy is not about generosity, it is about justice.​”     

— Darren Walker, president of Ford Foundation



Presented by Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, in partnership with Hammonds House Museum. Exhibited at Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture & History. November 1, 2017 – January 22, 2018

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southern  legacy  truth   vision   future

 

Watch >>> Fresh, New Film, released just in time for Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

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Film and photography about the exhibition by Sino Chum

Bring The Soul of Philanthropy to your city! Contact us today to learn more.

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Its Other Benefits

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“The New Testament informs the reader that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. The size and substance of the gift should be important to the recipient, but not to the donor save that the best thing one can give is that which is appreciated. The giver is as enriched as is the recipient, and more important, that intangible but very real psychic force of good in the world is increased.”

From The Sweetness of Charity, an essay by Maya Angelou which is quoted in The Soul of Philanthropy exhibit.

Below are a few photos from the Atlanta opening of The Soul of Philanthropy, which is on display at Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History now thru January 2018. The exhibition is presented by Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta in partnership with Hammonds House Museum. Learn more about the exhibition in Atlanta.

Photo credit: Sino Chum

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Atlanta To Open ‘The Soul of Philanthropy’

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The Soul of Philanthropy Atlanta will open November 1 and run through January 22, 2018 at Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History. Robust civic engagement with community conversations will launch with the exhibition, working further to ignite a movement of conscious giving for social change.

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The exhibition is presented by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, in partnership with Hammonds House Museum.

Sponsors and Community Partners include:

  • African American Development Officers (AADO)
  • Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Atlanta Celebrates Photography
  • Atlanta Fulton Public Library System
  • CommunityBuild Ventures
  • StateFarm
  • Southeastern Council of Foundations
  • WAOK 1380 Radio
  • Wells Fargo

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Tale of Two Cities

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Atlanta panel discussion during Black Philanthropy Month, leading up to the exhibit’s opening

You’d be hard pressed to find two American cities any more geographically and demographically disparate than Portland, Oregon and Atlanta, Georgia. And yet, one thing they have in common is their commitment to to host the comprehensive, multimedia version of The Soul of Philanthropy. Following the IMLS grant-funded exhibit tour, managed by Johnson C. Smith University during 2015 and 2016, these cities are the first in the country to mount exhibitions and lead civic engagement aimed at reframing philanthropy for greater inclusiveness and lasting impact.

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The road from Portland to Atlanta opens a world of possibilities

Vibrant big cities, both Portland and Atlanta benefit from prominent philanthropic families, businesses and foundations. Perhaps then it’s unsurprising that groups in each city would be intrigued by The Soul of Philanthropy, which invites people to see philanthropy differently. That is, come to know that philanthropy is deeper than your pockets.

The Portland exhibition, presented by MRG Foundation at Concordia University, opened at the start of this year and ended late March. The Atlanta exhibition, presented by Hammonds House Museum, is sponsored by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and several other groups and individual donors. The exhibition will open at Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History in November 2017. Above is a photo from an early program in Atlanta; below is a photo collage from the Portland exhibition.

 

 

Since the inception of the Giving Back Project in 2007, I, along with Charles Thomas, aimed to create a body of work that would transcend race and place. Charlotte, North Carolina has been the epicenter of the project because that’s where our giving circle is based and where we each live and have formed relationships over the majority of our lives. Even so, we aspired to craft stories and release photography, so soulful and true, they’d resonate broadly and tap deeply at the core of people any and everywhere. I used to say, “I want people in Phoenix to see themselves and people they know in these stories and images.”

Ten years into this project and six years after the first printing of Giving Back, seeing sustained interest in the book nationwide and overseas, too, has been gratifying. Proving relevant and timeless, the book continues to sell steadily and, having again sold out, is presently being printed for the fourth time; over 200 books are now on backorder. It’s truly the book that keeps giving!

When the exhibit was announced in 2014 and opened at Johnson C. Smith University, it also began attracting attention and inquiries from coast to coast, including at the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Leaders in Portland and Atlanta were among the first to express interest in the exhibit.

Three thousand miles stretch between Portland and Atlanta. The distance between their histories and demographics is wide as well, yet hosting The Soul of Philanthropy bridges these communities. It has provided space for uncommon collaborations, honest conversations and new insights, offering lasting benefit to both places.

Situated in the Pacific Northwest, Portland boasts a hipster reputation as a progressive, socially conscious city, which belies its racist history. Oregon enacted a shameful ban of Black people during periods of the 19th and 20th centuries. Generations later, Portland consequently stands labeled “the Whitest City in America,” because 78 percent of its population identifies racially as White. At seven percent, Black residents comprise a small fraction of the community.

Conversely, Atlanta is a cultural and commercial center of the Atlantic Southeast. A majority of its residents are African American, earning it the reputation of a “Black mecca”. While Oregon forbade Blacks from moving to the state until the 1920s, clear across the country, Georgia depended on the enslavement and exploitation of Black people well into the 20th century. At opposite corners of the U.S., both cities have legacies that can, at times, thwart or even pervert philanthropic efforts today.

The Soul of Philanthropy is a vehicle for communities to explore and celebrate multiple giving traditions, to learn about an array of philanthropic tools and strategies, and to break through barriers to inclusiveness. Even with vast differences in history and population, philanthropic leaders in Portland and in Atlanta have found value in engaging in vital community building through the exhibit. Whether Black, White, Latino, American Indian, Asian American, Middle Easterner, Pacific Islander, or any cultural roots, the stories, photography and themes of The Soul of Philanthropy hold relevance. After a decade, Charles and I have seen firsthand the ways our work persists and sustains significance and resonance in a complicated field and often misunderstood topic.

First Portland and soon Atlanta are reframing portraits of philanthropy and coming to see philanthropy differently. If America’s “Whitest city” and “Black mecca” have found value in this crucial work, there is ample room for cities in between to do the same.

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Here Again

Time again for lamentation.

Even though today and into next week, temperatures in Charlotte will near 90 ºF, I am not fooled. Absence of sunlight when I’ve awoken this week is a dreaded reminder: Today fall slouched in. So I’m re-posting the piece, titled equinox.
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equinox

fading daylight hints its approaching
the rustling cues my lament and loathing.
hustled, leaves surrender verdant hues
a pall befalls every branch in view.
its cooled breath, a cause to brood
déjà vu dreading of a bluest mood.
never ushered, seemingly flung in
the season liked least of them
alas, here again: autumn.

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Wednesday and Every Day

Carnegie Wednesday Wisdom

I uttered the words “Philanthropy is deeper than your pockets” in short film about the Giving Back Project last month. I say it often. Somehow the folks at Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy stumbled upon those words and then posted a #WisdomWednesday tweet. Sweet!

The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy is bestowed each year, since 2001, by the Carnegie family of institutions. The award recognizes outstanding philanthropists who reflect the values of the legendary Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie and his philosophy of giving. More quotable wisdom and words of inspiration for me are the late Mr. Carnegie’s words: Do real and permanent good in this world.

Oh Snap!

During our Washington, DC exhibition at the 2017 National Conference of the Association of African American Museums, an intrigued hotel attendant would stroll by regularly and gaze over at our installation. His preoccupation persisted the first few days. Eventually, he ventured into our exhibit space to inquire about the topic and to explore close up and more deeply the displays of photos, stories and interactive elements of The Soul of Philanthropy. And then he shared his story.

Years prior in his native Somalia, he had been on a boat that capsized and sank. While dozens of passengers perished, he was one of only nine survivors rescued by a passing ship. Since that day he said he’s been thankful and always gives back because he was helped once and was saved.

Later, without any our prompting, Nasir wrote his story on the exhibit’s blackboard.

Giving Voice

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Introducing the Black Philanthropy Month 2017 Poster

For the first time, a Black Philanthropy Month poster was commissioned to help inspire Black giving and advance our movement to shape 21st century philanthropy.

This inaugural piece was designed by artist Marcus Kiser and is available here free for downloads. The art poster conveys the BPM 2017 theme: Giving Voice to Fuel Change.

 

To Cap It All

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A recent visit to our capital city served to cap off the 10-year milestone of the Giving Back Project, which produced the book Giving Back and The Soul of Philanthropy exhibit.

The 2017 National Conference of the Association of African American Museums, hosted by the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, took place last week in Washington, DC. And the conference opening coincided with the start of Black Philanthropy Month.  I’m still recovering from the road trip, digesting the experience, and following up with the wonderful historians, artists, writers, curators, researchers and educators I met from across the U.S. and Caribbean.

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Stimulating every sense and emotion, the AAAM conference is an experience I will always remember, feel grateful for, and share more about later. In the meantime, below are some photos and a public expression of gratitude to Diatra Fullwood, Vonda Kaye and Sino Chum—their presence, power and persistence in DC embodied The Soul of Philanthropy.

Photos by Sino Chum.

 

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Full Circle Magic In Ten Summers

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“Invest in the human soul. Who knows. It might be a diamond in the rough.”  Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and philanthropist

2017, the tenth summer

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has invited The Soul of Philanthropy to be the featured exhibition and Cultural Resource Sponsor when it hosts the 2017 National Conference of the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) in Washington, DC, July 31 – August 4.

NMAAHC Founding Director Lonnie Bunch is honorary chair of this year’s AAAM conference, where the theme, PRESENCE, POWER, PERSISTENCE, focuses on Black social change movements. It’s a one-of-a-kind conference that, in 2017, is expected to bring together 600-800 attendees from over 200 museums, libraries, HBCUs, historic sites and cultural centers in the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America.

To mount this special exhibition of The Soul of Philanthropy, a small team and I are headed to DC later this month. We’ll install the exhibit at The Capital Hilton, where conference attendees will be immersed in the exhibit’s themes and imagery of radical generosity and conscious giving for social change. This exhibition will also help kick off Black Philanthropy Month 2017.

 During the inaugural year of the high-profile NMAAHC, this exhibition at the AAAM conference is a notable milestone in the 10-year history of The Giving Back Project. At the outset in 2007, we had high aspirations for the project, as shown in this excerpt from an early document:

An artistic expression of our cultural heritage, the Giving Back Project is a vehicle for sharing our collective stories and promoting inclusive and responsive philanthropy. We want it to become a springboard for deeper conversations and more mindful giving.

The ever-evolving project now comprises the civic engagement work of New Generation of African American Philanthropists, the book Giving Back, both the comprehensive and the pop-up edition of “The Soul of Philanthropy,” and anchor involvement in annual Black Philanthropy Month celebrations.

The AAAM conference brings an uncommon opportunity to reach beyond the usual audiences of institutional philanthropy and into the expansive world of cultural and educational institutions, where a broad cross-section people can come to see philanthropy differently.

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2013, the fourth summer

Coincidentally, it was during Black Philanthropy Month, August 2013, at the AAAM conference in Charlotte that Charles Thomas and I, along with Darryl Lester, served on a panel about African American giving and first announced plans to create and launch a touring exhibition. Reimagining our book as a multimedia exhibit was a vision we’d held since before the book was published in 2011.

Participation on the AAAM pre-conference panel ushered in a slew opportunities by introducing us to museum professionals from around the country and to funders such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

We couldn’t have predicted that four fruitful summers later, we’d be circling back to the AAAM conference as a proud sponsor and with our long-envisioned exhibit realized—thanks to a major grant from IMLS and a partnership with Johnson C. Smith University.

2007, the first summer

On a roadtrip to Washington, DC to attend my first national conference on Black philanthropy, I revealed my concept for The Giving Back Project with three members of New Generation of African American Philanthropists in July 2007. Since April, when the idea for a book first came to me, I had held it tightly, disclosing it to no one. Renee Bradford, Rashad Davis and Ohmar Land were the first to hear my idea for Giving Back, and they were instantly enthusiastic and encouraging when I shared my plan. Laughter and animated chatter about wildest-dream possibilities for the yet-to-be-published (and still to be written) book fueled the drive and before we knew it the long drive from Charlotte to Washington, DC was too soon over.

Returning to our nation’s capital a decade later with both an award-winning book and a groundbreaking exhibit for the AAAM conference—hosted by NMAAHC, no less—feels marvelously perfect.

all the summers in between

The three summers shared here punctuate a decade of summers that felt more like hell than heaven. Hot days filled with tedium, sweat and hope. For folks who have a wild idea, passion project, labor of love or a seed for something big in your head or heart, know that your best hopes can come through, despite inevitable struggles and setbacks. My 10-year experience has been a sweaty, bloody, teary mix of anxiety and courage, patience and persistence, bewilderment and wonder, sorrow and satisfaction.

A full circle etched with an idea.

AAAM Conference Screenshot

To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of the special AAAM exhibition:
  • Go to: new-philanthropists.org/initiatives/ and click the phrase: Giving Back Project at SocialGood to donate via the project’s PayPal site
  • Or, mail a check to our fiscal agent: Social Good Fund, Attn: Giving Back Project, P.O. Box 5473, Richmond, CA 94805 (be sure to write on the memo line: Giving Back Project)
Financial gifts in any amount are welcome and needed. Every contributor will be acknowledged in print and online stories that we produce. Contributors donating $500 or more will be listed by name on a panel composing the DC exhibition.
If you have questions, feel free to call or email me. Thank you.

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