According to Valaida Fullwood, co-founder of the New Generation of African American Philanthropists, sharing narratives is vital to black philanthropy, and the most traditional way of doing so is through spoken word. “When we were brought here through slavery we lost everything, we kept our history through storytelling,” Fullwood says.
Throughout history, Black people have utilized the arts as a way to share their narratives and inspire change. For example, “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday brought awareness to the lynchings that were taking place against the Black community during that time.
It’s a little known fact that August is Black Philanthropy Month, created in 2011 by the African Women’s Development Fund as a global celebration and concerted campaign to elevate African-descent giving. While the New Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP), a local “giving circle” that helps pool charitable funds giving back to the community, commemorates Black Philanthropy Month each year with an observance, this year they are taking things further.
The NGAAP is using Black Philanthropy Month 2020 as a launch pad for its new BeBOLD campaign, a long-term project devoted to building Black leadership and the voices of disregarded groups by utilizing a series of storytelling projects, including microstories such as a new poem from renowned Charlotte spoken-word poet Quentin Talley, founder of OnQ Productions, that we have the honor to premiere. You can listen here and/or read the poem at the bottom of the page:
Focusing on the narrative initiative, the BeBOLD project has released a series of micro-stories throughout August, ranging from Hope Vibes executive director Adrienne Threatt’s tribute to her father, to Fullwood’s celebration of her Aunt Dora.
“The NGAAP is encouraging people to share Black-led, Black-benefiting organizations, and advance racial justice.” Talley says he was inspired to work with the BeBOLD campaign because he has always been a fan of Fullwood’s work and the giving circle project. He goes on to explain that the best way for him to contribute to this cause would be through his poetry. “I may not have the funds, but I do have the talent,” he says.
Talley believes poetry and the arts in general have a strong influence on Black philosophy and the inspiration for change. He cites several historic poets, such as Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence Dunbar, whose work has been iconic in raising awareness for inspiring action against the injustices that African Americans face in America. “Poetry has always moved the needle when it comes to social justice and making change,” he says. He adds that, in his new poem, he wants to convey that “there is nothing wrong with having bold Black love.”
He goes further to explain that “Black love comes in all forms,” including philanthropic, that are “shared in our stories that we their own micro-stories on social media with the hashtag #BPM2020CLT, reflecting on a person in their own life who has been a source of strength and inspiration, and who represents what it means to be BOLD in times of adversity. The group will continue releasing stories in the countdown to #CLTGivesBlack on Aug. 28, a community-wide day of giving focused on Black-led, Black-benefiting nonprofit organizations. The group plans to announce a large grant award on that day, as well.
Fullwood and Talley have partnered on several projects, including a book that Fullwood wrote that includes one of Talley’s past pieces, and she worked with Talley on the construction of his new original piece made just for this campaign. The piece is titled “Bold Black Love Lives Here.” Fullwood explains that after working with the multi-talented Talley on previous works she thought it might be time for another poem, and describes his original new work for BeBOLD as “a powerful nod to the past while looking forward to ask how current generations will affirm Black lives, strengthen pass down through history.”
Originally created by Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network (PAWPNet), Black Philanthropy Month is an international movement devoted to the observance of Black philanthropy and giving in all forms. The celebratory month was first launched in 2011 to acknowledge the United Nations Year and Decade of People of African Descent. The goal of Black Philanthropy Month is to inform, involve, inspire and invest in Black philanthropic leadership and to strengthen African-American and African-descent giving in all its forms, for the benefit of Black communities, organizations, and lives, according to its official website.
Each year features a new concept, with this year’s theme being “Foresight 20/20.” Yétundé Olagbaju, an artist from Oakland, California, explains how she views the theme and used it as inspiration for the official artwork she created for this year’s celebration. “When I think of ‘foresight’ I think of preparedness, exchange, knowledge of self, and the community that supports us all in thriving,” Olagbaju says.
To commemorate #BPM2020CLT, NGAAP is spearheading a series of events and funding opportunities, in partnership with community collaborators including SHARE Charlotte, My Brother’s Keeper Charlotte-Mecklenburg, National PanHellenic Council-Charlotte Chapter, and YMCA of Greater Charlotte. They’ve even gotten the support of Mayor Vi Lyles, who released a statement of recognition in which she pointed out that Charlotte is just the second city to officially proclaim August as Black Philanthropy Month. “I want to encourage everyone to meet and support black philanthropists,” Lyles wrote.
The NGAAP describes Black philanthropy as “the backbone of communities,” as Black-led organizations house the deep knowledge, relationships, and trust necessary to promote and maintain well-being and survival. These organizations face constant barriers to retrieving philanthropic resources that are essential to sustainability, growth and power. Nationally, less than 2% of funding by the largest country’s largest foundations is set aside specifically for Black communities.
According to the NGAAP, “Patterns of philanthropic under-investment and racial bias, both conscious and unconscious, serve to undermine the operations and capacity of Black-led organizations.”
Due to severe under-funding and inconsistencies in resources, Black-led organizations as a whole are dealing with major barriers in managing operations and sustaining their missions. Furthermore, these organizations endure serious hurdles as it pertains to collaboration, innovation, and advocacy, which signifies the need for Black philanthropy and circular giving.
The second half of BeBOLD stands for Black Organizations Leading Differently, and the campaign is devoted to building and encouraging Black-led organizations to lead differently and to create different and fair outcomes for Charlotte’s Black residents as well as the growing spectrum of oppressed communities and communities of color to result in a benefit to all of Charlotte. The campaign’s focus is not just to benefit Black-led organizations and Black communities but also to aid marginalized groups and create major changes in Charlotte’s nonprofit and philanthropic landscape.
The NGAAP believes that “by elevating and strengthening Black leadership and voices of groups that historically have been marginalized, we can make strides in de-centering Whiteness and ultimately dismantling White supremacist ideology that has dominated Southern culture and sustained institutions and structures that perpetuate distrust, oppression, inequity, and injustice.”
According to leaders with the NGAAP, the group will accomplish the goals of the BeBOLD project by employing four major initiatives: “to increase funding for general operations and for multiple years; narratives to amplify fresh voices, authentic framing and powerful storytelling; networks to foster new relationships, bridging and matchmaking community resources; and leadership to cultivate visible, effective leadership on racial equality.”
To wrap up the final events of Black Philanthropy Month and segue into the BeBOLD campaign, the NGAAP will host a virtual workshop devoted to underrepresented voices to help develop leaders and leadership skills. The workshop, titled “The Power of the Collective,” will feature Howard Hill and Orsella Hughes of the Prosperity Foundation, Mark Lewis of the Poise Foundation, and Lyord Watson Jr. of the Penny Foundation. Learn more at tinyurl.com/PowerOfCollective.
According to the Association of Black Foundation Executives, “Black social change leaders and Black-led institutions have played vital roles in almost every major movement in this country, from the abolition of slavery through today.”
It just takes the willingness to Be BOLD.
Bold Black Love Lived Here
By Quentin Talley
As a new future
is upon us
This present moment
Calls for courage
Like John Lewis
To Sit in defiance
Like Rosa Parks
Lift our Voice
Lean into Truth
Like Mary Lou
Become a beacon
In your posture
Like the ancestors
With the torch
They passed to
Lighting a fire
Under our foots
if you so choose
is to show and prove
Be like the stories
of bold. For soon
will become, the old
And the elders will
one day become
Time a wasting
And our ancestors
Ain’t raise no fools.
time is nigh
To raise new
Leaders of community
Intact with the tools
To build unity
By leaving Trust
funding a new generation
of African American
Do it for the culture
we hold dear.
Now the future
Bold Black Love