Exhibit Captures The Story Of African-American Philanthropy

New exhibits at The Cleveland History Center celebrate those who give ‘black’ -- through the images and stories of African-American philanthropists.

Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited is a traveling exhibit created by author Valaida Fullwood. The exhibit is on display through December 6 at The Cleveland History Center.

"Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited" is a national traveling exhibit created by author Valaida Fullwood. [Mary Fecteau / ideastream]


A national traveling exhibit, "Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited," highlights African-American generosity across generations. Created by author Valaida Fullwood, the exhibit features stories paired with black and white images, interactive kiosks, and a giant chalkboard wall where visitors can express the reasons why they give back.

Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited is on display at The Cleveland History Center through December 6, 2019.

[Stephanie Jarvis / ideastream]


Inspired by the traveling exhibit, a curated collection explores charitable giving in Greater Cleveland. It features local community leaders, activists and organizations.

“Most people think of philanthropists as wealthy individuals, but they don’t think of philanthropists as individuals who simply make a decision to give their time, talent, and treasure,” said Belva Denmark Tibbs, exhibit committee chair of "The Soul of Philanthropy Cleveland: Celebrate Those Who Give Black."

“And then when individuals think about African-Americans, they think of African-Americans as being beneficiaries of philanthropy – not donors.”

The Soul of Philanthropy Cleveland selected 18 honorees to be included in the "Celebrate Those Who Give Black" exhibit.

The Soul of Philanthropy Cleveland selected 18 honorees to be included in the "Celebrate Those Who Give Black" exhibit. [Mary Fecteau / ideastream]


The Soul of Philanthropy Cleveland, a group committed to expanding the conversation around charitable giving, collected nearly 140 names of individuals or institutions who give back to the community. A selection committee narrowed down the list to 18 honorees – three institutions and 15 individuals.

“I think this entire event or what the Soul of Philanthropy stands for really helps to define what philanthropy is in its many facets,” said Christin Farmer, an honoree in the "Celebrate Those Who Give Black" exhibit. Farmer is the founder of Birthing Beautiful Communities, an organization dedicated to reducing infant mortality rates.

Christin Farmer is the founder of Birthing Beautiful Communities, an organization dedicated to reducing infant mortality rates. Farmer is honored in the exhibit as an outstanding young adult philanthropist.

Christin Farmer is the founder of Birthing Beautiful Communities, an organization dedicated to reducing infant mortality rates. She's an honoree in the "Celebrate Those Who Give Black" exhibit. [Mary Fecteau / ideastream]


“For me, it's not just about the monetary resources that can be given, but your time, your passion and your compassion, your support, and your love that can be given,” she said. “Birthing Beautiful Communities was created to address the systematic structures that lead to poor birth outcomes, and one of those pillars is rooted in culture. Part of that is giving back to the community in a way, and a doula, which is a birth worker – is a Greek word that actually means a woman who serves.”

Cheryl Perez, programming chair for The Soul of Philanthropy Cleveland, helped design more than a dozen community discussions around the exhibit. Topics include women in philanthropy, the next generation of giving, and how different cultures view giving.

Cheryl Perez joins Connie Hill-Johnson, Teleangé Thomas and Belva Denmark Tibbs after a press conference highlighting The Soul of Philanthropy Cleveland exhibit.

Cheryl Perez joins Connie Hill-Johnson, Teleangé Thomas and Belva Denmark Tibbs after The Soul of Philanthropy Cleveland press conference. [Jean-Marie Papoi / ideastream]


“It’s important for my children to see this type of work,” said Perez. “To see other black people that are out there doing what they’re doing. I think it’s about having an impact and really knowing that the black community is an integral part of philanthropy throughout our society.”

The exhibitions are on display at The Cleveland History Center through December 6, 2019.

Celebrate Those Who Give Black Honorees:

Legacy Philanthropist
Jean Fairfax
Robert P. Madison
Steven A. Minter

Chairman’s Award
Margot James Copeland

Emerging Philanthropist
Janice Ridgeway
Jowan Smith
André Morton

Hidden Philanthropist
Musett Bennett
Pastor Richard Gibson
Greg Moore

Outstanding Youth Philanthropist
Chantal Brown
Logan Williams

Outstanding Young Adult Philanthropist
Evelyn Burnett & Mordecai Cargill
Christin Farmer
Demetrius O. Williams

Philanthropic Organizations
Eliza Bryant Village
The Phillis Wheatley Association
United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, Inc.

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