Celebrating Black history and Black futures
Cowritten by ABFE and CandidWhile recently recognized as a federal holiday in 2021, Black people have long celebrated the historical importance of Juneteenth. From kitchen tables to campuses of Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Juneteenth is well revered in the Black community as an important narrative thread with a rich and complex tapestry. This blog provides a brief overview of Juneteenth and the role that HBCUs have played as guardians of Black history and Black futures. Looking back at the history of Juneteenth and HBCUs Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas learned that they had in fact been granted their freedom in 1863 and had spent two additional years in bondage at the hands of exploitative plantation owners. While the history of the holiday is a bitter tale that involves immense trauma and deceit, we have grown to celebrate and reflect on the day as the first semblance of freedom Black people were granted, albeit nearly 100 years after the Declaration of Independence boldly offered freedom to everyone else. It is not a coincidence that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) came into prominence around the same time. HBCUs were established to provide higher education opportunities to Black Americans. This was necessary, as Black students continued to be unwelcome at institutions of higher education, despite legislation that promised otherwise. The first HBCU was established in 1837 (the African Institute; now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania), and a few others were established in the mid-1800s. However, the majority of HBCUs originated from 1865-1900, the years following the Emancipation Proclamation, with the greatest number of HBCUs founded in 1867. Many history books in American schools fail to include the history or acknowledgement of Juneteenth, but at HBCUs, students get a much deeper and contextualized presentation of what it has meant to be Black in America. Taking a multi-faceted look at Black history that goes beyond notable moments in the Civil Rights era makes HBCUs powerful repositories of historical data, chroniclers of Black lives, and centers of Black culture. Looking to the future HBCUs are also about the future. An HBCU Midnight Brunch during Juneteenth weekend at the Roots 101: African American Museum, a nonprofit in Louisville, Kentucky, exemplifies this fusion of the past and what is to come. The event marks a historical milestone, but will also feature nonprofits and young people coming together to learn about and create non-fungible tokens, which are digital assets known as NFTs that use blockchain technology. “When we talk about history, we always say we teach the past while we teach the future. HBCUs have always been the key to the Black community,” says Lamont Collins, the CEO and Founder of Roots 101. “We have to pour into that next generation. It’s a natural fit with technology and the history of Black colleges. Juneteenth is about liberation and we're going to be deliberate and continue to grow.” Since George Floyd’s death and the subsequent racial reckoning, many funders are recognizing HBCUs as leaders of Black communities. A number of foundations, corporations, and high net worth individuals have started funding HBCUs for the first time over the last two years. This philanthropic funding is important, as it frees HBCUs from needing to focus on keeping the lights on, and allows them to focus on the future. ABFE President and CEO Susan Taylor Batten believes in the power of collaboration across sectors to uplift the Black community. “Juneteenth has been an important and celebrated holiday for Black people in this country for many years.”, says Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE and a graduate of both Fisk University and Howard University. “To recognize the holiday, we encourage foundations and donors to support HBCUs and other Black-led organizations that are the keepers of this history and hold the promise of our future.” As the nation takes time to learn about and celebrate Juneteenth, remember to acknowledge the past and simultaneously look for ways to help build the way to a brighter future. __________________________________________________________________________  ABFE and Candid’s upcoming research report will unpack philanthropic giving to HBCUs over the last two decades and offer more details about recent waves of funding.
ABFE Appoints New Board Members
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 16, 2022 Contact: Lya Wesley(firstname.lastname@example.org) NEW YORK, NEW YORK – ABFE is proud to announce the appointment of three new members to its Board of Directors: Cynthia Muller, Isaiah Oliver and Stephen Webster. Cynthia Muller is the director, Mission Driven Investments, at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In this role, she is responsible for developing and managing strategic impact investment activities that address systemic barriers that create vulnerable conditions for historically marginalized communities and children. Muller is responsible for driving the strategy and performance of the foundation’s $160 million mission driven investments portfolio. Isaiah M. Oliver is president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, a charitable organization focused on engaging people in philanthropy to build a stronger community. In his role, Isaiah leads the Foundation’s strategic priorities around improving literacy rates, increasing access to healthy food, strengthening resident-led neighborhood improvements, and providing critical resources to the children affected by the Flint Water Crisis. Stephen Webster is chief financial officer & vice president of Finance for the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF). In this capacity, he is responsible for investment portfolio administration, investment performance, accounting, financial reporting and risk management. The fiduciary stewardship led by Webster is critical for a foundation whose funds are meant be used in perpetuity for future generations. Prior to joining KHF, Webster, who is a Certified Public Accountant, worked at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis for more than 20 years. Webster’s career also includes roles at Porter Leath Children’s Center and as an accountant at KPMG Peat Marwick. He lives in Andover with his wife and two daughters. “We are honored to have Cynthia, Isaiah, and Stephen join our Board,” said ABFE CEO, Susan Taylor Batten. “Each bring to ABFE tremendous experience and expertise which will add new perspectives and ideas to our Board. We look forward to working with each of them to advance ABFE’s mission.” Our newest Board members join a distinguished group of philanthropic leaders ─ below is the full 2022-23 ABFE Board: CORY S. ANDERSON, BOARD CHAIR Executive Vice President, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation SHARON BUSH, VICE CHAIR Executive Director, Grand Victoria Foundation SYLVIA BARTLEY, SECRETARY Global Director, Medtronic MARIA WOODRUFF-WRIGHT, TREASURER Vice President of Operations & Chief Financial Officer, The Skillman Foundation STEPHANIE BELL-ROSE Corporate, Philanthropy, and Governance Professional AISHA ALEXANDER-YOUNG Chief Executive Officer, Giving Gap MELISSA DESHIELDS Chief Executive Officer & Partner, Frontline Solutions HERBERT DRAYTON, III Founder & Managing Partner, Hi Mark Capital JAMES HEAD fmr. President & Chief Executive Officer, East Bay Community Foundation WENDY LEWIS JACKSON Managing Director of Detroit Program, The Kresge Foundation SUSAN D. JOHNSON Director of Operations & Grants Administration, Lumina Foundation CYNTHIA MULLER Director of Mission Driven Investment, W.K. Kellogg Foundation ISAIAH OLIVER President & Chief Executive Officer, Community Foundation of Greater Flint UPENDO SHABAZZ Regional Vice President, Palm Beach, Allegany Franciscan Ministries MAISHA SIMMONS Director of New Jersey Grantmaking, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation STEPHEN WEBSTER Chief Financial Officer & Vice President of Finance, Kansas Health Foundation DALILA WILSON-SCOTT President, Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation
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Haitian Asylum Seekers
As of Friday 9/24, the migrant camp under Del Rio bridge has been cleared ─ but the conversation around anti-Black immigration to the US has just begun. The inhumane and cruel attacks on Haitian asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border were heart-wrenching to witness ─ sadly illuminating a long history of violent detention and deportation by the United States. ABFE stands in solidarity with Black migrants who are typically left out of the immigration debate and commits to advocating on their behalf within the philanthropic sector. We condemn the ongoing abusive treatment of the Haitian people and demand a dignified path forward for the thousands of Black immigrants seeking asylum. Mounted border patrol agents aggressively corralling people like cattle or runaway slaves was on public display for the world to see. We are equally concerned with what we are not seeing in mainstream media. Where are the thousands of Haitians now? What are their living conditions? Are they being treated with dignity and respect? There are reports that some are being held in detention centers and prisons, waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum or be deported. Those that have already been deported to Haiti have been dumped into a country overrun by strife and instability. The Biden administration continues to enforce the Title 42 clause of the 1944 Public Health Services law invoked by Trump in March 2020. This dangerous and callous law allows for the rapid expulsion of nearly anyone trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico or Canada. Critics submit that today’s use of Title 42 is a misapplication of the law and is driven by immigration fears, not public-health worries. The Biden administration is currently fighting in court to continue its use. Both Democrats and Republicans have continued to wage wars and implement sanctions and destructive economic policies that have been the direct cause of migration and those seeking asylum throughout the world. Globally, the US-Mexico border is one of the most militarized borders with $55 billion in contracts awarded to private industry by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) since 2008. Many in this country were encouraged when the Biden administration signed an executive order on advancing racial equity in his first days in office. It states, “ it is therefore the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality”. This does not appear to be the case in the area of immigration policy; anti-Black racism is alive and well – one just needs to compare the treatment of Haitians at the border with that of Afghan refugees who have recently arrived in this country. How Philanthropy Can Respond Thousands more will make arduous treks to the U.S. border. Immediate strategies to address real-time humanitarian crises as well as long-term solutions for welcoming asylum seekers into U.S. society are needed.
- Disinvestment – Foundations can look internally to see where their investments lie. There is a growing disinvestment movement – similar to the South African Apartheid disinvestment – focused on the Immigration Industrial complex. Similarly, the current Prison Industrial Complex disinvestment movement is focusing on immigration camps and detention centers.[i]
- Invest in the Caribbean - If we care about Black lives in the US, we must care about Black lives in the Caribbean including Haiti. Why? The majority of Black immigrants in the U.S. migrate from this region and these families retain strong economic ties to one another. We urge international funders to focus on the issues and development of the Caribbean.
- Support Organizations focused on Black immigrants (from the Caribbean, Africa, Afro-Latinos from South American countries) – The focus has been on Latinx migrants which means many of the services provided for migrants and asylum seekers are Spanish-language based.