For the remainder of this February, Black History Month, we’ll be featuring content from A Philanthropic Covenant with Black America edited by Rodney Jackson. To kick of this series of posts we’re please to present Tavis Smiley’s foreword for the book:
In 2006 I had the privilege and honor to spearhead the creation of The Covenant with Black America, one of the most phenomenal publishing and social accomplishments of this decade. The Covenant reached #1 on the best-seller lists of the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Barnes and Noble, and Borders. It also became the basis for nationwide civic action as communities mobilized to make The Covenant a living, breathing document.
A year later, The Covenant was followed by The Covenant in Action, which chronicled the steps black people have taken in response to the challenges set forth in The Covenant. One of the many innovative projects reported in the second volume was an undertaking by the National Center for Black Philanthropy, Inc. (NCBP), located in Washington, D.C., to develop what they called A Philanthropic Covenant with Black America.
Originally conceived as a brief volume for their 2007 national conference, A Philanthropic Covenant blossomed into the full-length book you are holding now. I am very pleased to note that several of my colleagues who were instrumental in producing The Covenant have also played key roles as contributing authors in A Philanthropic Covenant. Their involvement has helped to make a smooth transition from one book to the other.
My abiding friend Dr. Cornel West made an astute observation when he said, “The crisis in Black America is threefold … economic, political, and spiritual.” While the election of President Barack Obama clearly shows that America has come a long way in its political development, we must not lose sight of the large numbers of African Americans who have yet to catch up with this progress. Philanthropy—the giving of time, talents, and treasure—is already an important strategy in assisting black communities. But it can become even more effective when individuals are giving of their own time, talents, and treasure in support of other African Americans.
This is what A Philanthropic Covenant with Black America is really about and why it deserves your attention. When the hearts and minds of black people are motivated and mobilized, there is no problem we can’t solve. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “… we’ve got to strengthen black institutions [and] begin the process of building a greater economic base.” Philanthropy—black philanthropy—can help accomplish both.
I congratulate the National Center for Black Philanthropy on its achievements with A Philanthropic Covenant, and I trust you, the reader, will give it the same generous level of thought and consideration that you accorded to The Covenant. It is an important action plan for achieving not only civil rights, but “silver” rights.
Finally, please look for the third volume in The Covenant series, Accountable: Making America as Good as Its Promise, by Tavis Smiley with Stephanie Robinson.