MLK’s Dream to Action
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” Martin Luther King, Jr. penned that in his 1967 book, as the minister, activist and civil rights leader denounced violence and called for unity.
Today those calls continue as his work remains the bedrock of civil rights efforts in our country.
It took 15 years for a federal holiday to materialize to honor Dr. King, and today we reflect on his legacy and the work still ahead.
“Unfortunately, Dr. King’s dream of equality articulated in 1963 remains unfulfilled in many communities today– a reality affirming the continued structural inequities and bias spurring widespread disparities in social conditions and opportunities for people of color,” Gail Christopher, vice president for the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) initiative and senior advisor for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation said.
The TRHT enterprise has been gaining momentum preparing for tomorrow, launching its first-ever National Day of Racial Healing.
The national day falls at a turning point for our country; this week a historic chapter closes on the presidency of America’s first African-American president, as he leaves office and a new administration takes the helm amidst a divided nation.
Just within the past week more organizations across the country and in Michigan have shaped their own plans and events for tomorrow to begin community conversations necessary to form short-term and long-term action plans for equitable change.
National Day of Racial Healing events in Michigan include:
- Battle Creek Community Foundation is working to identify various “healing places” throughout the area. They’re planning an awareness campaign for tomorrow and have been engaging local youth groups.
- Wayne State University is holding a series of campus events open to the public including a resource fair and workshops in collaboration with the Arab American National Museum and the Take On Hate campaign.
- In Holland, the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance is holding its second meeting of Allies Working for Social Justice and Environmental Progress.
- Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s event, “Stories that Unite Us” will share recommendations from the TRHT’s summit, opportunities to get involved locally and previews of the docu-series America Divided.
It’s been almost half a century since Dr. King spoke to crowds calling for change and today his powerful message continues to resonate as we gather tomorrow for the National Day of Racial Healing to engage with our communities and develop year-long efforts and action plans to create meaningful change for our communities of color.
Acknowledging the National Day of Racial Healing, Governor Rick Snyder has proclaimed tomorrow a day of healing in Michigan.
Get involved in the conversation on social with #TRHT, #daytoheal, #dayofracialhealing
Efforts to Break Barriers in Race Relations
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in the famous 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” defending nonviolent responses to racism, as marches and sit-ins against segregation took place in Alabama. King’s open letter gained traction within the civil rights movement and eventually in the history books.
Our country has seen numerous protests and calls for action from communities, in response to political rhetoric and several high-profile police-involved shootings of unarmed African-American men, including Michael Brown, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
Newsweek recently reported that 16 unarmed African-American men were killed by police in 2016, compared to 36 deaths in 2015. The Washington Post reports while there was a reduction in deaths amid calls for police reform and boosted community efforts, the number of African-American men killed by police remains disproportionate to white men.
As we reported in July, the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody in Baltimore prompted Living Cities, a philanthropic collaboration made up of 22 foundations, including CMF members, to create Racial Equity Here. The two-year program that helps cities analyze how their operations impact people of color is currently underway in five cities, including Grand Rapids.
What we have seen emerge from these controversial cases is the evolution of a powerful grassroots activist group, Black Lives Matter and a greater focus on community policing.
Community policing is broadly defined as “police building ties and working closely with members of the communities.”
Sojourners, a national faith-rooted nonprofit organization that connects with justice campaigns, shared an article in its magazine about successful community policing efforts around the country.
- Training police officers when they go on calls to homes to check the fridge to make sure the kids have food.
- New officers get a tour of the community, not from the crime perspective but from the lens of everyday activities that happen.
- Expose officers to work at homeless shelters, implicit bias training and family potlucks to experience cultural diversity.
In Flint, CMF member the Ruth Mott Foundation has helped improve community policing efforts through supporting police mini stations in Flint, allowing residents to file a police report or just talk with a reserve officer in their own neighborhood.
“We have to have community policing, that's the only way we can make this modern policing work. We can't do it without the support of the community,” Tim Johnson, police chief of Flint said.
The Work Ahead
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” Martin Luther King, Jr. told a crowd in 1965 about the critical importance of fighting for equal rights.
Fast forward a few decades and we are reading headlines about African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, refugees and others being marginalized. Hate incidents and harmful rhetoric have prompted leaders in the social sector to call for unity and increased collaboration.
As CMF previously reported, Michigan has experienced a rise in hate incidents, 65 were reported between November and December, compared to the historic rate of about one per month.
“As we prepare to celebrate what would have been the 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Civil Unrest in Detroit, there is no better time than the present for us all to acknowledge that there is indeed a problem, for if we continue to live in denial that there is a racial problem in this country, we will not open the door for healing,” Jason Paulateer, chair, Michigan Forum for African Americans in Philanthropy (MFAAP), a CMF affinity group, and the vice president and community development manager at PNC Bank said.
MFAAP is engaging with the Association for Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) to connect its work to national efforts regarding building racial equity. Following ABFE's session at CMF’s Annual Conference last fall, plans are underway to provide workshops for CMF members to work more deeply in achieving racial equity.
CMF and its members continue to seek collaborative partnerships and innovative ways to support equitable communities.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded a grant to the Michigan Humanities Council (MHC) to provide nearly $650,000 in grants to 28 different cultural organizations in communities throughout Michigan. MHC's Heritage Grants Program supports projects such as oral histories, exhibits, digital archives, documentaries, performances, school programs, and community conversations to establish cultural connections and promote racial equity.
The Kalamazoo Community Foundation offers a comprehensive online collection of equity partners, opportunities and resources, highlighting a video of community members discussing barriers at play.
The Skillman Foundation recently shared challenges, successes and the hopes for an equitable Detroit, noting the importance of civic engagement and championing diverse voices.
Last week, Nonprofit Quarterly (NQ) highlighted Collaborating for Equity and Justice, a toolkit, noting the need for new ways to engage communities to lead to systemic change.
- The Boston Public Health Commission mandated a three-day workshop on a racial justice framework, exploring racism within social determinants of health
- Social justice organizations helped low-income Latino high schoolers in California share their concerns, leading to effective and publicized coalitions and campaigns
The Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) recently shared insights on how grantmakers can approach this work.
Recommendations for grantmakers include:
- Seek out people who can inspire others to become leaders and move a group to a common goal. Understand that leadership may look different than you expect.
- Understand the historical factors that underline the issues you aim to tackle.
- Adapt a “boots on the ground” approach to identify current troubled systems.
- Co-create with other organizations, “be on tap, not on top.”
View the Collaborating for Equity and Justice Toolkit
Check out the Michigan Forum for African Americans in Philanthropy (MFAAP), a CMF affinity group
Connect with Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP), its mission is to develop emerging leaders committed to building a just, equitable and sustainable society.
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports Facebook Journalism Project
Content adapted from a Knight Foundation article, read the full article here.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced last week that it's helping social media giant, Facebook, engage people in communities and cities of all sizes by leveraging local, quality news organizations.
The foundation said their support to Facebook is not financial, instead they will connect Facebook’s team with the foundation’s extensive network of local news organizations.
“At a time of growing mistrust in journalism, a time when false information flows freely and is widely shared online, local journalism organizations are often the most relevant, credible and important sources of information for helping people make decisions that affect their lives and their communities,” Jennifer Preston, vice president for journalism at the Knight Foundation shared in a foundation article.
Preston said Facebook “has committed its staff to listen and learn from local news organizations and residents to help better understand how best to draw attention to journalism, instead of fake news.”
Last spring a Pew Research Center study, conducted in association with the Knight Foundation, revealed that 62 percent of adults get their news from social media.
Learn more about the Facebook Journalism Project.