Harambee 2024: Sold-Out Historic Gathering of Black Philanthropy Leaders in St. Louis


St. Louis, MO – Sold Out and Fired Up, the countdown is on for the largest convening of Black professionals in organized philanthropy. Harambee 2024: Let’s All Pull Together, will take place in St. Louis April 25th to April 27th, with pre-conference activities setting the stage on April 24th. This groundbreaking conference promises to deliver dynamic breakout sessions focused on advancing justice and civil rights, mainstage plenaries dedicated to transformative philanthropy and the impacts of systemic changes on Black communities, and after-hours networking that will foster deep connections and collaborative opportunities among leaders in the field.  

Attorney Benjamin Crump Joins Harambee 2024 

Elevating the event’s significance, ABFE is thrilled to announce that Attorney Benjamin Crump, a vanguard in the civil rights and social justice movements, will be a featured speaker at Harambee 2024. Renowned for his tireless advocacy for justice and equality, Attorney Crump’s participation signifies a powerful call to action.  

Attorney Crump will open our 2024 “Souls to the Polls” closing plenary, leading a pivotal discussion on the repercussions of the repeal of Affirmative Action on Black institutions, organizations, and communities. This vital conversation brings together influential leaders such as Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE; Reverend Traci Blackmon, Founder of Hope Builds, LLC; Alethea Bonello, National Field Co-Director of the Black Voters Matter Fund; and Britton Smith, Senior Director of Federal Organizing at the REFORM Alliance. They will delve into the systemic challenges disproportionately affecting Black communities and analyze the political landscape ahead of the 2024 election season.


Meet ABFE on The Mainstage: A Powerhouse of Dialogue and Advocacy 

Harambee will showcase thought-provoking plenaries focusing on dissecting philanthropic challenges and advocating for equitable support of Black-led organizations, featuring distinguished speakers dedicated to forging a more equitable future for Black communities.

Among the notable plenaries is the “The State of Justice Philanthropy: Reflections from Regional Leaders,” which will feature insights from esteemed leaders like:

Susan Taylor Batten, President & CEO of ABFE 
Rev. Starsky Wilson, President and CEO of The Children’s Defense Fund 
Faybra Jabulani, Lead Racial Equity Capacity Catalyst at Forward Through Ferguson 
Vanessa Cooksey, President & CEO of Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis  
Blake Strode, Executive Director of ArchCity Defenders 
Mike Milton, Executive Director and Founder of Freedom Community Center 
Charli Cooksey, Founder and CEO of WePower

The conference will also host discussions on “Black Giving and the Intersection of Strategy, Equity, and Radically Intentional Grantmaking,” with speakers like:

Tiffany Thompson, The Cafe Group 
Heather Infantry, CEO of Giving Gap 
Darrell Booker, Founder of Nonprofit Tech Acceleration for Black and African American Communities at Microsoft
Malik Murray, Senior VP and Head of Business Development and Institutional Marketing at Ariel Investments

Session highlights: Exploring Black Empowerment and Philanthropy 

Harambee’s program explores sessions and pre-conference activities designed to foster solidarity and address the challenges facing Black communities, which align with ABFE’s mission of effective and responsive philanthropy in Black communities. A few exciting sessions to anticipate:  

White Women Cry: A Solidarity-Building Workshop (Wednesday, April 24th) In her essay collection White Women Cry and Call Me Angry: A Black Woman’s Memoir on Racism in Philanthropy (released August 2023), Dr. Yanique Redwood describes debilitating interactions with white women in the philanthropic sector during her tenure as president and CEO of a private foundation in Washington, DC. This pre-conference session will convene Black men and women to develop a shared analysis that can be used for future organizing within the sector and codify what it means to love, protect, and trust Black women.  

Information is Power: The Vital Role of Journalism — and Journalism Funding — for Thriving Black Communities (Thursday, April 25th) This session highlights the crucial role of journalism in empowering communities and addresses why Black philanthropic executives should prioritize supporting trustworthy news and information for and about Black communities. 

Sankofa: Building and Sustaining Youth-Led Philanthropic Movements (Thursday, April 25th) Youth have historically led justice and liberation movements but are excluded from the tables that fund their visions. This discussion explores reshaping philanthropy by embracing young perspectives and fostering innovation to advance social change.  

Building and Preserving Black Wealth through Community Engagement, Strategic Partnerships, and Entrepreneurship (Friday, April 26th) This session will shed light on how philanthropy can help reclaim, restore, and build Black community wealth by supporting the development of an ecosystem within which both Black entrepreneurs and Black residents can thrive through affordable commercial space, technical assistance and partnerships, new networks, and access to capital.  

What’s at Stake: Black Bodily Freedom Requires Funding Reproductive Justice (Saturday, April 27th) The criminalization of sex work, much like the war on drugs, is rooted in white supremacy. Drawing on insights from ‘State of the Hustle,’ by MO Ho Justice, this session will explore lack of funding for the sex workers’ rights movement as a critical missing link in achieving Black Liberation. 

Blacks in Cannabis: From Being Locked Up to Being Locked Out (Saturday, April 27th) The cannabis industry is booming, but for many Black Americans the price of entry is steep – Social equity rules can reduce barriers to entry for communities most affected by discriminatory drug laws. This session aims to explore economic equality in support of the cannabis industry while also further supporting the national study on the impact and consequences of marijuana enforcement over African American communities. 

Evening Entertainment 

Get ready for laughter, dance, and memorable moments throughout Harambee 2024’s evening events. Harambee 2024 offers an electrifying mix of entertainment to complement its enriching daytime programming. Kick off your evenings with Card Game Night on Wednesday, April 24th, featuring ‘For the Culture’ trivia game by St. Louis’ Trivia Girl, Dr. Lana Kelly Hilliard. Prepare yourself for a musical performance by Chicago’s own Chris Rob inspired by the greats of St. Louis including an infusion of R&B and Jazz featuring Ferguson’s own Keyon Harrold for all to enjoy! On Thursday, April 25th, experience the legendary SOUL SLAM – The Original Prince vs Michael Jackson Music Tribute Party, hosted by Dj Spinna. The grand finale on Friday, April 26th, features the James Joseph Lecture Rooftop Afterparty with Dj sheBEATZ.

Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Black Market Place on Thursday and Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm, showcasing local Black-owned businesses, authors, and Black-led non-profits. Thursday will feature a dedicated pop-up book shop, adding an extra dimension of cultural enrichment to the conference experience. As Susan Taylor Batten, ABFE President and CEO, emphasizes, “this event represents a deliberate act of solidarity with St. Louis’s Black community, prioritizing collective investments in Black-led social change and amplifying the voices and contributions of local businesses and nonprofits.”

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be part of this pivotal event – secure your virtual tickets now and join us in shaping a more equitable future. Click here.

Be sure to check out the full event schedule for all happenings during Harambee, ensuring you don’t miss a moment of inspiration, connection, and empowerment. Click here.

For more information, refer to our initial Harambee 2024 Press Release here: https://abfe.org/harambee-2024-annual-conference/press-release/


Limited media passes are available. To secure a media pass, contact :Grace Oshin, Director of Storytelling at ABFE: [email protected].