Book Spotlights Local Black Philanthropists

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Charles Thomas


The news media highlights the big philanthropists, the big spenders: Oprah, Bill Gates, The Levines, The Spanglers. Those are the names that make the headlines, but everyday people with smaller wallets and big hearts give what they can to help local organizations. These everyday philanthropists don’t always make the headlines, but they do make an impact.

Many of those people giving are African Americans, and they’re part of a growing network of African-American philanthropists helping local organizations. In the new coffee table book, “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists,” by Charlotte’s Valaida Fullwood. The book features essays about and photographs of local African-American philanthropist who are helping local organizations.

On Wednesday, Fullwood, founding member of New Generation of African American Philanthropists giving circle, and Thomas, the book’s photographer, will lead a panel discussion on how inclusive and responsive philanthropy can have a positive impact on issues of racial justice at the YWCA. The multigenerational panel will include: Olivia Stinson, freshman at Winston-Salem State University and founder of PEN Pals Book Club; Rashad Davis, entrepreneur and founding member of the New Generation of African American Philanthropists giving circle; Rob Harrington, attorney with Robinson Bradshaw and civic leader; and Jeanne Brayboy, retired educator, arts patron and civic leader.

“The book is meant to introduce new images that lift up, celebrate the giving that happens in the African American community,” Fullwood said.

Fullwood said African Americans tend to primarily see themselves as the beneficiaries of philanthropy. However, African Americans have a rich history of giving. Since New Generation of African American Philanthropists started in 2006, the organization has connected with about a dozen other black giving circles throughout the country. To date Fullwood’s group has donated more than $40,000 to local organziations such as The Male’s Place, the Men’s Shelter and Jacob’s Ladder.

The book highlights the people who so willingly gave of their time and money to help the above organizations and more. The book is nearly 400 pages, half of which are black and white photos of everyday givers. The narratives explain how the philanthropists were inspired to give. Proceeds from book sales are donated to the giving circle’s grant-making fund.

It’s a contender to be nominated for an NAACP Image Award and has received critical acclaim.

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