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

‘Biography and History’

“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” — Carter G. Woodson

Travel and a busy work week preempted my plan to post a Black History Month story about Black Philanthropy and Philanthropists every day. So…to catch up, here are nine (since my last post was Feb 2) names and stories that are among my favorite.

Each of these biographies is powerful, informative and inspirational. Which one do you find most inspiring?

Catherine Ferguson, who founded a school for child laborers in NYC

Catherine Ferguson, who founded a school for child laborers in NYC

  • Catherine Ferguson (1779–1854)former slave, who despite being illiterate became a pioneering educator and philanthropist in New York and founded a school in the early 1800s.
  • William Leidesdorff (1810–48), a San Francisco’s most prominent early Black citizen and businessman, who became one of the wealthiest man in California.
  • Bridget “Biddy” Mason (1818–91), an African American nurse and a Californian real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist.
  • Lucy Gonzales Parsons (1853-1942), a Black Mexican American, likely born a slave, who became a great orator and activist on class struggles around poverty and unemployment.
  • Madam CJ Walker (1867–1919)entrepreneur and social activist noted for charitable contributions to black institutions, including the single largest gift made by an African American woman to the Indianapolis YMCA building fund)
  • Oseola McCarty (1908-99), poorly educated washerwoman who donated $150K to university for scholarships.
  • Thomas Cannon (1926-2005), Virginia postal worker who lived modestly in order to give to and help others; was known as “The Poor Man’s Philanthropist.”
  • Matel Dawson (1941-2002), a forklift operator with a ninth-grade education who gave more than $1M to universities for scholarships and to charities.
  • Wangari Maathai (1942-2011), Kenyan environmentalist who began paying women a few shillings to plant trees and went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

— VF (#BHM Day Three – Day Eleven) 

Ninety-two Years

Aunt Dora, a great aunt, indeed. Photography by Charles W. Thomas Jr.

Aunt Dora, a great aunt, indeed. Photography by Charles W. Thomas Jr.

Since her life inspired Giving Back…and her hands grace the book’s cover…and Feb 2 is her 92nd birthday, today (the 2nd day of Black History Month) we’re honoring Dora Atlas.

My great-aunt Dora is founder of Our Daily Bread of Asheboro, NC. Her story, “Rich Aunt,” opens Giving Back, and you can read it here.

Happy Birthday Aunt Dora! 

— VF (#BHM Day Two)

Luxuriant Soil

“Whereas our ancestors (not of choice) were the first successful cultivators of the wilds of America, we their descendants feel ourselves entitled to participate in the blessings of her luxuriant soil.” — Richard Allen

Richard AllenAs a descendent of Africans on America’s “luxuriant soil,” I relish celebrating and honoring my ancestors—their struggles, courage, achievements and imprint on our country’s history. In celebration of Black History Month, each day in February I’ll post a short story or other info about history makers, pathfinders and do-gooders in the realm of African American philanthropy.

Today, we honor Richard Allen (1760–1831), a minister, educator and writer, and the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Allen also was co-founder in 1787 of the Free African Society, which represents an early form of collective giving. His selfless deeds during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 well as his formidable role in founding of the Black church, place him among the early framers of American philanthropy (as I talked about here).

— VF (#BHM Day One)