Every day I acknowledge my ancestors who go before me in all things.
Celebrating the courage, acts, and achievements – known and unsung – of Black folks is in my core and a 365-day occasion. That said, I accept all gifts and will gladly receive and revel in a month dedicated to African American and Black history and culture. It is a rich, expansive story.
As we celebrate Black History Month, we thought it a wonderful opportunity to share a special gift with the sector: the open release of Black Voices in Grants Management, the first issue of our reimagined PEAK Grantmaking Journal published a year ago.
When I received my hard copy in the mail last February, I opened it and was without words. Reading through the stories, which conveyed the burdens and aspirations of my friends, colleagues, and community was both inspirational and crushing. To have found your “right place” where your heart and mind marry into a chosen profession that then finds the color of your skin an obstacle to full inclusion… I was sad, but not surprised, because, in those words, I could hear my own story and journey. Despite it all, we stand tall, ready to serve as agents of change and transformation.
As was appropriate, Black Voices included a highlight of the First Lady of Black Business and Philanthropy – Madam C.J. Walker. In case you missed it, there is a new tome acknowledging her legacy, Madame C.J. Walker Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy During Jim Crow by Tyrone McKinley Freeman. This insightful piece goes deep into one woman’s desire to drive a collective-change model. She sought to encourage others to follow her lead. And that’s our call to action for the sector.
Philanthropy is a world of privilege, where wealth eventually turns outward and manifests as charitable investments and mission work. It is where business and philanthropy overlap. Profit begets charity. Philanthropic leaders have a critical role to ensure they are building staffing models that feature more diversity, especially within leadership teams. But getting there requires more than just hope: It requires belief of concept, investment, and intention.
I am humbled and greatly appreciative of the burden that Black philanthropic leaders – and you know who you are because there are so few of you – have taken on to drive change for the sector, but true, sustainable change is a group project. As we seek and strive for diverse staffs, equal pay, and inclusion at our funding institutions, let us also have the courage to ensure our charitable investments afford nonprofit leaders the same advantage. Get on the bus! Build better forward.
Satonya Fair, JD
President and CEO
Photo ©Courtesy of Madam Walker Family Archives/A’Lelia Bundles