As far as earth-shattering social justice movements are concerned, behind every frontline change agent are financially endowed supporters committed to providing the resources needed to agitate the powers that be and actualize the vision for a just and more equitable society.
For instance, the Black church counted as a primary benefactor of formerly enslaved Black people in the decades following the end of the Civil War. During the Civil Rights Movement, actors Sidney Poitier and Harry Belefonte, among several others, garnered financial support for The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Throughout much of the 1970s, a bevy of actors, producers, and directors also assisted Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party in their hour of need.
Black Voices for Black Justice DMV’s visionary committee members are Tonia Wellons, Angela Rye, Linda Wilson, Darius Baxter, and WI Bridge’s own Cherrelle Swain. Toward the end of last year, a review panel received 3,000 nominations for Black Voices for Black Justice DMV. It’s currently undergoing the process of narrowing down the choices, which will culminate in February.
“There has always been a relationship between philanthropists and people who are on the front lines advocating for social change in the arts and through social justice movements,”
Last summer, a study featured in The Chronicle of Philanthropy found that white-led social justice groups had a budget 25 percent greater than those led by people of color. The study, which focused on more than 100 organizations, also suggested that Black women received less funding than white women and Black men. When it came to donations that can be used for any purpose, Black-led groups received three-fourths less than those run by white people.
That’s why Wellons said the ideal candidates must have demonstrated leadership and visibility in pushing for racial justice and social change. This fellowship, the funds of which will be directly awarded to those selected by the
review panel, is intended to relieve organizations’ financial burdens. To launch this endeavor, the Greater Washington Community Foundation collaborated with local nonprofit GOODProjects.
“If we’re lucky and fortunate enough to undergird someone so they can be an impactful local leader, that would be a great outcome,” Wellons told WI Bridge. “These awards are one time for now, but my message to philanthropists is that this needs to be ongoing. We need people who are doing fantastic work and are willing to do the heavy lifting to help make us a better country and society.”