Black Enterprise — May 2012
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About This Issue
Derek T. Dingle

Preserve Our Rich History of Philanthropy

I’ve always had a love for history, spending countless hours in museums and libraries, and devouring history books and biographies on business, politics, and presidents, among other topics. I’ve found that past reference has proven invaluable in providing guidance for current actions and future planning. It offers constructive lessons for business and life.

That’s why I attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in late February—an event that brought out the President and First Lady and roughly 600 business leaders and influential citizens—with our Director of Photography Lonnie C. Major and Senior Producer/Correspondent Shannon Lanier (see their photo gallery and video, respectively, on BlackEnterprise.Com). At that event, I gained insight into the effort to create a monument to black achievement as well as a chance to speak to one of the few living legends of the civil rights movement, Rep. John Lewis. “I think as this museum is being built, all Americans will come to appreciate the contribution of African Americans and see their own history,” says Lewis, who fought 12 years to gain authorization from Congress to build the institution on the National Mall.

I also met Lonnie G. Bunch III, the noted historian and visionary founding director who is creating this bit of history by developing the most expansive repository of black life in the world. In arguably the largest private fundraising effort directed by African Americans, Bunch has managed to gain the support of corporate leaders and business elite— including Citigroup Chairman Dick Parsons, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, American Express CEO Ken Chenault, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell—as well as HBCU alum, community groups, and even schoolchildren.

His example demonstrates that we can come together not only to preserve our history but to propel our communities. Our story on this monumental endeavor, “The $250 Million Mission to Preserve Black History,” offers a step-by-step guide for nonprofits large and small. So does the mission of the appropriately named The Against All Odds Foundation. In this month’s Wealth for Life feature, we share the story of Christine Carter, a Newark, New Jersey, native who took out a $90,000 home equity loan and gained roughly $2 million in government funding to pursue her mission of helping at-risk youth in her underprivileged neighborhood.

The two tales of philanthropy show that although one person can make a difference, there’s always strength in numbers. It’s what Susan Taylor Batten of the Association of Black Foundation Executives calls the “concept of shared fate,” making the point to donors that even though their causes may be directed to black communities, they have a ripple effect in making our nation better. Taylor Batten has been traversing the country trying to increase gifs from African Americans, especially athletes and entrepreneurs in the financial services industry.

That fact that all sectors of the black community can—and must—play a role in our collective progress is why we have included giving back as Wealth for Life Principle No. 10: I will strengthen my community through philanthropy. Once you’ve built wealth, we believe that in addition to passing it on to future generations, you must use it to preserve our institutions and uplif those in need. That thrust has always been a part of our tradition—and a way that all of us can make history.

—Derek T. Dingle

“Philanthropy is an essential part of the wealth-building process. In addition to its financial advantages, such efforts play a critical role in the advancement of our institutions and the less fortunate. This continued and collective process of giving back lifs all of our communities.”

—Derek T. Dingle, Editor-In-Chief