Category: A Voice from Philanthropy

How Philanthropy Can Work to Give All Black Men an Opportunity to Succeed

Over the past few days, I keep hearing — and thinking — about an important new study whose results the New York Times summed up in its headline, “Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys.”

I was drawn to the study’s coverage for two reasons: The focus on black boys is of personal importance to me, and it’s part of my position supporting professionals in philanthropy. And I have long tried to encourage grant makers to award money for social change based on data about what works and what matters.

But what surprised me was the number of people who told me about the New York Times article, which distilled the findings in attention-grabbing graphics and words.

I had to wonder: Were those who shared it with me surprised by the Stanford, Harvard, and U.S. Census Bureau findings? Or were they just aware of my interest in the topic? I think it was a little of both, an FYI to a colleague and an “aha” moment similar to those engendered by recent cellphone videos of police violence.

And that’s what disturbs me. The evidence that black boys are not succeeding in America has been stunningly apparent for years — test scores, graduation rates, incarceration rates, income disparities, the list goes on and on. The desire to tackle this challenge even emanated from the White House with President Obama’s 2014 launch of My Brother’s Keeper. Don’t we know this data already?

Perhaps many do, but this new work demonstrates that the struggles of black boys and men in America really are about race, not class.

And it might have a powerful resonance because it shows that structural racism and implicit bias harm the sons of the black upper class, underscoring the reality that we — black people — are still judged by the color of our skin. This is not a problem that solely affects low-income communities. Although poverty compounds the effects, this study makes clear that in America, race determines our life outcomes far more than class.

Black Boys Aren’t Broken

The concept of race enters our thinking earlier than we may have assumed. Some suggest that the sense of racial hierarchy has been shown to be evident in 3- and 4-year-olds. And that notion of a racial hierarchy is reinforced by messages that portray black boys as criminal, weak learners, and lacking ambition. These messages have been inculcated into the American narrative for decades. We cannot pretend that it doesn’t exist in the postracial America that some imagine.

So now that this study has gotten people shocked enough to act, what will we do?

In my role as head of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, we will continue our Putting Racism on the Table effort to educate leaders about a side of our society — one built on structural racism and implicit bias — that many people do not know exists.

We started with grant-making executives, but we knew that even though philanthropic dollars can be catalytic, they alone cannot solve any problem, particularly one as entrenched as racism. Recently we joined with Leadership Greater Washington to expand Putting Racism on the Table to business, government, and nonprofit leaders.

The importance of helping leaders fully understand the realities of racism should not be minimized, but it often is. We feel the pressure to act fast, without taking the time to learn. But consider this: At no time have most of us received any formal education on structural racism and implicit bias. Some of us have firsthand experience with it, but we may not be able to identify it or know how insidious it is. And without this knowledge, we direct resources to the wrong places. We try to fix black boys. They aren’t broken. What is broken is the education system, the criminal-justice system, and many of the other societal structures that surround them with a false sense of racial hierarchy.

Steps to Take

America has made little effort to understand structural racism and implicit bias. Philanthropy has many opportunities to change that. It can:

Support research on how best to have difficult conversations about race. What strategies are most likely to work with business leaders, elected officials, and community leaders? How can we have the conversations that we have avoided for decades, if not centuries?

Commit to supporting broader and deeper educational efforts about structural racism and implicit bias. These sessions must be tailored to key audiences to ensure they receive the information in ways that will be meaningful. Those in positions of authority need to understand the reality of racism and its ramifications. It will be difficult and perhaps uncomfortable, but with skilled discussion leaders, these conversations can be had. This part of America’s past and present must be faced.

Award grants to media watchdogs. The media’s role in defining how we see black males in America is undeniable. We must begin to call out instances of prejudicial coverage and seek to support more balanced portrayals of black people, especially men and boys. The bias that exists has been nurtured and reinforced by media images and media coverage.

Finance examinations of how black people are portrayed in American history textbooks.Foundation grants can encourage and enable the creation of texts that present a comprehensive and more accurate recounting of the role that blacks have played in the making of America. As long as this role continues to be minimized, the position of blacks in the country can be, and will be, marginalized.

Examine racial equity in your grant making. You may be inadvertently perpetuating racial inequities unless you undertake an analysis to determine the racial impact of the projects you support. Positive intentions can sometimes lead to negative impact.

Establish scholarships for black men who want to become teachers. It is especially important to get more black men to become classroom instructors. As part of offering financial support for their training in teaching, organizations should urge them to commit to working in schools with high black populations.

Support research to examine systems in our country, such as education and criminal justice. Foundations can support work to determine how key systems across the country provide advantages and disadvantages to Americans based on their race. It can then support efforts to change those policies and practices that have led to these realities.

Beyond such efforts, grant makers can and must explore their own implicit biases — ones that may have contributed to a lack of support for grass-roots and black-led organizations working to correct racial disparities. And grant makers should examine their own policies and practices that may be grounded in implicit biases.

This is just a small sampling of the multiple ways in which philanthropy can promote racial equity. If it has the will, philanthropy can move this country to examine and to act on a topic that has been taboo.

When apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994, the government established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, not only to reveal and understand the atrocities that had occurred but also to facilitate movement toward healing. South Africa publicly acknowledged the wound and actively worked to foster understanding and healing. In the United States, we have never fully acknowledged the wound of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, redlining, preferential lending practices, and mass incarceration — some examples of structural racism and implicit bias that existed years ago, but continue, in some form or with vestiges today — all factors that bring us to the statistics revealed in the study.

We have been immersed in that all-encompassing sense of white is good and black is bad. We may not want to say those words out loud, but that is America’s truth. We must be explicit in our commitment to confront, to learn and to unlearn, and to build a just and equitable society. Government may not pave the way to healing in the United States as it did in South Africa. That’s all the more reason why philanthropy must lead the conversations and the actions that will contribute to America’s healing.

Tainted money: Is the problem that there t’aint enough of it…or is there way too much?

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Many years ago, I worked with governors and state legislators in the South on the issue of infant mortality. Babies were dying before their first birthdays at a higher rate in this region than in other parts of the country. We were trying to understand the causes and the solutions and we were discussing how to raise funds to support the work.

One particular meeting hadn’t been underway very long, when the availability of funding from tobacco companies was mentioned. These companies wanted to support the Southern Governors’ Association and the Southern Legislative Conference, but there was a dilemma. Smoking during pregnancy was a major contributor to low birthweight births. A debate quickly emerged when a meeting attendee, the president of a major medical school, said “The problem with tainted money is there t’aint enough of it.” Wow.

Two recent events brought that story to mind. WRAG is having discussions on how to diversify our funding base, a conversation that is always simmering in social profit organizations. But the stronger contributor to re-surfacing this incident was last month’s inaugural Cafritz Lecture on Philanthropy with its focus on foundation investments. In her lecture, Meyer Memorial Trust’s Chief Investment Officer, Rukaiyah Adams, raised the reality that many philanthropic institutions are investing their endowments in industries that are creating the very problems that their charitable dollars are then used to address. She gave the example of foundations investing in the oil industry and then prioritizing the environment in their grantmaking.

As a funder, when was the last time that your institution truly examined your investment portfolio? Are you investing in industries that contribute to a stable, healthy, equitable society or are you solely focused on which investments bring in the largest financial returns? And as a nonprofit, even if financially strapped, do you, or would you, take funds from an industry that is contributing to the problems that you are trying to address?

My experience is that nonprofit leaders will usually respond, “no” calling that kind of support “blood money.” They can immediately see the cause and effect relationship. However, I suspect that the potential causal relationship between foundation investment portfolios and negative social outcomes may not be as immediately apparent for funders.

As Rukaiyah Adams noted, at most foundations, the finance and investment side of the house doesn’t talk with the program and grantmaking side. The program officers may not know how the funds are invested because a casual look at investment tools may present innocuous fund names not revealing where the funds are invested. For the finance side, their focus may solely be on bringing in the highest ROI. Rukaiyah, thank you, for prompting a new and important conversation within philanthropy. Alignment between investment policy and grantmaking goals will lead to greater social good. Wow.

Understanding History: It’s NOT Just Academic


By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

For whom is the Shaw neighborhood in DC named?

What role did People’s Drug Store (now CVS) play in the rebellion in Washington, DC in 1968?

What did Howard University students and then-Rep. John Conyers have to do with the creation of Black History Month?

Those were just a few of the questions posed by Dr. Bernard Demczuk, retired professor from George Washington University, and presenter at the opening reception for Putting Racism on the Table: Expanding the Table for Racial Equity. Whew. That is a mouthful, but what Leadership Greater Washington (LGW) and the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) are trying to do is a mouthful, too. Our task is formidable. We are trying to build a network of leaders in our region who recognize and understand the impact of structural racism, white privilege and implicit bias on our communities and who believe that we can change it.

Some suggest that there is no need to talk about slavery. “There is no need to understand what happened during Reconstruction,” they say. “Why are we talking about redlining?  Let’s just start where we are and help people of color get to that level playing field.”

Well, I share Dr. Demczuk’s view that until we fully understand the past, we cannot create a just future. Why?  Because we must understand that it is not happenstance, laziness, lack of intellectual aptitude or a whole host of other commonly suggested falsehoods that have caused people of color to be on the bottom rung of the ladder to American success. Until we acknowledge how this has happened – and is perpetuated – with intentionality, well-meaning people will direct their interventions to the victims, not to the systems that have victimized — the real structural racism that has created the problems.

Understanding history is not just an academic undertaking. It is a way to unearth the foundation that has created what now exists.  In many cases that foundation is strong. We must dismantle it and start fresh to truly create a level planning field. WRAG is committed. Are you?

P.S. – If you want to know the answers to the questions above, listen to Dr. Demczuk’s talk.

Racial Healing: A National Day, but a Personal Journey

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers 

I was at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation conference in 2016 when the idea of a Day of Racial Healing was first mentioned. It seemed to emerge organically from the conversation at the conference.

Now, in its second year, LaJune Montgomery Tabron, the Kellogg Foundation’s CEO, reminds us that “in healing, we acknowledge the truth of past wrongs and the authentic narratives of people across communities. The National Day of Racial Healing is a call to action for people to come together and begin the dialogue.”

The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) began that dialogue in 2016. We called it Putting Racism on the Table. Based on our work, we now know:

  • 36% of our membership is applying a racial equity lens to their grantmaking and another 34% are considering adopting such a frame;
  • 30% sought additional learning for staff and leadership on racial equity;
  • 22% engaged trustees in conversations about race and how it relates to their organization;
  • 18% engaged grantees in conversations about racial equity;
  • 16% changed their grantmaking priorities; and,
  • 16% changed internal operations, policies, procedures and/or organizational culture.

I am proud of this. These actions didn’t come from one day of racial healing. Multiple conversations with many philanthropic leaders led to a multi-pronged, multi-year learning journey. But, my sense of urgency to do this work did emerge from one day of racial healing.

I was personally devastated when Trayvon Martin was killed. I couldn’t watch news coverage or read stories about it. Every time that I did, I thought, this could have been my son – roughly the same age and the same experience. My healing started when I wrote a blog post about my feelings. I let others into my experience as the mother of an African-American boy in this city, this country, at that point in time. The feelings that I would have normally kept bottled up, I shared with my professional community. That was not the only event that put WRAG on the Putting Racism on the Table learning journey, but it was pivotal.  For a movement like WRAG’s to start, someone in a leadership position must lead.

In order to heal, we must admit that there is pain and suffering. We must see or create a path to lessen or completely alleviate that pain. The depth of my pain – and my denial of racial realities — was revealed in the death of Trayvon. My healing continues. It is a process, not an event. For some, the National Day of Racial Healing may be that catalytic event that Trayvon Martin’s death was for me. I simply urge you to start on your path to racial justice, to understand the need for racial healing and to use your position to encourage others to do the same.

Leadership Greater Washington (LGW) and WRAG Enter Second Partnership

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers 

I recently came across a quote that caused me to pause. It was from Adam Braun, a young entrepreneur focused on excellence in education. He said, “The most abundant resources that we possess amongst the 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States are passion and knowledge, yet our most scarce resource is collaboration.” There is no question that collaboration is tough. Different values, different long term goals, different cultures are sometimes insurmountable hurdles even when both parties really want to make it work.

For the second time now, WRAG has identified a great partnership. For almost two years, WRAG and LGW came together for a comprehensive examination of affordable housing in our region, looking at the challenges and possible solutions. In January 2018, we launch our new collaboration, Putting Racism on the Table: Expanding the Table for Racial Equity.

If you follow WRAG’s work, you know that the philanthropic community has been learning about racism and how to apply a racial equity lens to its grantmaking for about two years now. When we’ve looked at the depth of structural and systemic racism and the breadth of implicit bias, it is very clear that this problem, like most, cannot be solved with the intervention of just one community. LGW offers a portal into government officials, business leaders and civic leaders across the array of issues that impact Greater Washington. It is the proverbial one-stop-shop when thinking about how to reach the broadest group of leaders in our region. So, I am excited to have the support of Doug Duncan and the Board leadership at LGW as, together, we explore the issues of racism and begin the conversation about what can we do to make the region a more racially equitable one.

While the early quote causes one to reflect, I have another that I like much better: “Collaboration is not about gluing together existing egos. It’s about the ideas that never existed until after everyone entered the room.” We know that WRAG and LGW don’t constitute everyone who needs to be in the room, but we are definitely Expanding the Table for Racial Equity.

Why government needs to put racism on the table

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers 

Somewhere in elementary school, we all learned how a bill becomes a law. What we didn’t learn was how bias, perhaps unconscious, affects the decisions of lawmakers or how structural racism has been essentially hardwired into so many of the public policies that shape our lives.

Without stepping back to understand history, as Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, reminded a WRAG audience last week, we continue to perpetuate inequities while falsely believing that certain realities are created by happenstance or natural preferences. In reality, it is with intentionality that, throughout history, the federal government has played a powerful role in ensuring or preventing racial equity. Examples include presidential actions like the Emancipation Proclamation and Executive Order 9981 that desegregated the armed forces; Supreme Court decisions such as Dred Scott v. Sandford or Brown v. Board of Education; and, Congressional decisions like the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution and the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1964 to name just a few.

The governmental role is not limited to the federal government. State actions related to criminalization of offenses have been shown to have a disparate impact on people of color and even local level policies and regulations, particularly zoning regulations, have had a negative impact on communities of color. Efforts to address racial inequity will only succeed with the active engagement of government officials, both elected and appointed.

Toward that end, WRAG is pleased to partner with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) to begin a deliberately focused conversation with government officials in our region on this important topic. On December 1, 2017, WRAG and a larger coalition, is bringing GARE trainers to our region.

Our challenge is to get government officials to attend. The default response often is “I already know that. I know about redlining. I know about school segregation. I know. I know. I know.” The reality, however, is that without a structured examination, few of us really know what contributed to these realities, what the impact has been, and the imperative that must be expressed and acted upon to consciously make a change.

Government responds to the will of the people. We hope that you will use your voice to encourage your elected and appointed officials to demonstrate their commitment to racial equity by participating in this important training.

Last year, funders began their Putting Racism on the Table learning journey based on the insight of John Gardner: “The first step of leadership is not action; it’s understanding.” It’s time for government to begin this journey.

Statues, History and Social Justice

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Last Friday, I passed by Columbus Circle in front of Union Station as journalists prepared to film their Columbus Day news segments. I was reminded of the role that statues play in setting the stage for conversations.

That has definitely been the case with statues of Confederate soldiers. Some suggest these statues represent pride for those whose ancestors were a part of the Old South. Others note that that their ancestors were also a part of that same Old South, but pride is not their emotion when viewing these statues. Anger and sorrow are. So, what should happen?

Here’s what one group of young men thought when they visited Monument Avenue, home to a number of statues to Confederate soldiers in Richmond, VA,

“Today me and my peers decided to visit the monuments to see what all the fuss was about and we came up with this.Is it more convenient to take down some statues than to improve the real problem of society? … From living in low income areas we have our own ideas about society. Everybody pointing blame at monument avenue and statues that reside there, but those statues never did anything to me or people that i care about. The only thing that ever harmed people in low income areas is the violence that reside there …In low income areas 5 kids each [the five who visited the monuments today] from a different area [different apartments] collectively knows twenty-two dead [over the past year], where the protest about that, where are the reporters, where are all the organizations that claim to be to alive to better the lives of blacks. … Instead of using money to knock down statues that most people in low income areas never even seen how about using that moving to improve schools,fix up the community that we see everyday, or why not protest in our neighborhoods where we see violence and hate the most. We all was taught about pride and loyalty, but why nobody ever taught us not to die over the neighborhood that our mother renting…Everybody wants to help but nobody is really helping are they?”

– Excerpted from a Facebook post written by Daquan (age 17), on behalf of the following RCC Youth: Cahlee (16), DaMonte (16), Tawante (17), William (16).

As someone who grew up in Richmond with these statues, I get it. They are a bit like landmark wallpaper. But, isn’t that what normalizing is all about? We may think we don’t notice, but subconsciously, we do. And, now, a variety of events have caused those statues to rise in our consciousness. They are no longer benign wallpaper. We have been forced to think about what they mean, what they represent.

Seventeen-year old Daquan faces challenges much bigger than taking down a statue of a Confederate soldier, particularly a statue that is not a part of his day-to-day environment. He wants resources invested in making his community better. I understand his perspective, but it doesn’t have to be either or.

The reporters came to stand in front of Columbus Circle because the statue created the right backdrop for their story. What backdrop do these larger-than-life statues on stately Monument Avenue create for those driving by every day? Even subliminally, vital messages about power, justice, and history are conveyed by those statues. As individuals committed to improving the lives of people in our region, we have to think both about the direct day-to-day needs of Daquan and his neighbors, but also about the long-term implications of subliminal messages that perpetuate the false narrative of racial hierarchy. Advancing racial justice requires us to work on both fronts.

“Native Gardens” at Arena Stage: Poking fun to provoke a conversation

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Last week, I went to see “Native Gardens” at Arena Stage. The storyline: a white couple in their sixties, Virginia and Frank Butley, have lived in this Capitol Hill-like neighborhood for over 30 years.

Frank prides himself on his formal English garden. The new neighbors, Tania and Pablo del Valle, who Virginia and Frank assume to be Mexican (they aren’t), want to use plants indigenous to the region to create an environmentally-friendly, native garden. But first, they have to build a fence. The survey of the property line, the precursor to building the fence (read “wall” here), is where the comedy kicks off.

The play looks at gentrification, neighborhood change, diversity, implicit bias, historical inequities, and immigration — topics of interest to WRAG and to our membership — and does it through really funny dialogue. At one point, in defense of his flowers foreign to the mid-Atlantic, Frank accuses Tania of “botanical xenophobia.” The banter continues with:

Frank to Pablo: “Tania has problems with my plants because they are immigrants.”

Pablo to Frank: “No, because they are colonialists.”

I decided to see the play again because I wanted to listen more carefully. I wanted to decide whether to recommend the play to colleagues interested in issues of inequity. It was on the second time that another thought occurred to me: does satire work?

As I looked around the audience, I started to wonder how we were each perceiving the play.

When Frank tells Pablo that if they wanted to “go native,” maybe they should have moved to the “hip” neighborhoods of Navy Yard or Petworth, or even Takoma Park where they could have chickens, the audience at each performance laughed uproariously. But I wondered: Are we laughing at the same thing? I’m laughing because I think local playwright Karen Zacarías has written a funny line that captures how some see these neighborhoods in our region. Are others laughing because Frank got in a good zinger? I wondered which couple audience members identified with.

As the play continues, tempers flare and each couple digs in their heels. When the del Valles try to put up their fence, Virginia says, “You can’t just move in and take over.” She validates their past and current use of the del Valle property by explaining “It has been like this for a long time.” Sound familiar?

On my way out of the theater I heard audience members laughing at the jokes and the characters. I have no doubt that the satirical storyline and dialogue raised questions, spurred thinking, and provoked conversations. “Native Gardens” has a message, delivers it in a funny and engaging way, and is pertinent to our region and to our work. I hope you have a chance to see it. And, I’d love to hear your thoughts about satire. Does it work?

Why aren’t there more leaders of color in the nonprofit sector?

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

I’ve been reading a lot recently about white flight and residential segregation. Generally researchers used to agree that a white neighborhood could “tolerate” (yes, that was the term frequently used), 5% people of color, maybe 10%, and still maintain its stability. If any more were to move in, the neighborhood was considered to be declining.

Today, in many cities across the country, and especially here in DC, we aren’t seeing white flight. In fact, just the opposite. Whites are flocking to urban areas and displacing blacks, but the sentiment that is engendered now is the same as a generation ago. As more whites move into communities, the neighborhoods are seen as pretty, safe, desirable, and worthy of investment. Where neighborhoods remain majority black, the areas are perceived as blighted and dangerous. White is good. Black is bad.

I think this same dynamic holds true when you think about the lack of diversity in the leadership of nonprofit organizations.

Leading with Intent: 2017 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, a report recently released by BoardSource, had as its first finding, “Boards are no more diverse than they were two years ago and current recruitment priorities indicate this is unlikely to change.” Anne Wallestad, president of BoardSource is quoted in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, as calling this finding, “really disappointing.”

I would agree that it is disappointing, but it is not surprising. I believe there is a fear of organizational leadership integration just as there was a fear of residential integration. Now, hear me out. I believe that there is a fear, perhaps unconscious, of what will happen to the organization, just like some white homeowners in the past feared what would happen to their neighborhood. Will the organization’s prestige decline? Will donors, who are primarily white, have the same level of trust in the organization? Will the work of the organization change in a way that won’t be supported?

For over a year, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers has looked at issues of structural racism and unconscious bias. Certainly, recruitment strategies are critically important to enabling a diverse pool of candidates. Nonprofit salary levels are also a consideration not always discussed when trying to recruit broadly. But based on what I’ve learned over the last 18 months, the reason for a lack of diverse leadership in nonprofit organizations may be much deeper and more entrenched. Remember: White is good and Black is bad. You may not think of it consciously, but the sentiment surrounds us like air.

If you are truly committed to diverse boards and increased people of color in nonprofit leadership positions, I urge you to put racism on the table and actively discuss and explore unconscious bias. Having that type of fundamental conversation, along with training, might make a difference.

*Make sure you read Anne Wallestad’s statement on the lack of diversity on nonprofit boards.

Daughters of the Dream – or – What I Did on my Summer Sabbatical

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

In February 2012, I started writing a manuscript intended to capture my lifelong friendship with seven women. Most of us started Albert V. Norrell Elementary School in Richmond, VA, together. We evolved into a group in junior high, stayed together through high school, and then drifted apart in college and afterward as we finished our education and started careers and families. Once we reached our forties, we came back together and have remained close ever since. Now, we get together three or four times a year; sometimes for a weekend, other times just for lunch.

One day it occurred to me that race and the civil rights movement have been the background theme (sights and sounds) of our lives. Whenever we get together, we celebrate a black milestone like MLK Day, visit a black-themed exhibit, see a movie related to black culture, or simply discuss a challenge facing the black community. It was then that I started to think that this manuscript wasn’t simply about our friendship. It was, and is, about being a silent, but pivotal part of the civil rights movement.

We were too young to march, but our parents put us in the movement in a different way. First, they instilled in us the importance of education. College was a given for us, and we were encouraged to pursue advanced degrees. We also had to act, talk and dress a certain way to be prepared to walk through the doors that were about to open for our race. And we did. We were ready when opportunities finally emerged and “Jobs, Colored” was no longer a part of the employment section of the newspapers.

As I started to write, the name that emerged for my manuscript was Daughters of the Dream. We are the offspring, not only of our parents but of Dr. King’s dream. Of the eight, six of us have advanced degrees, certainly a much higher percentage than the national average. All have been successful in our career choices. We believe that, in large measure, we have been judged by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin.

For several years, the manuscript just sat. I knew it needed work, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I thought I wasn’t working on it, but I was. New ideas and new revelations were being shaped in my thinking. This summer, during my sabbatical, I had the luxury of concentrated time to renew my work on my manuscript. And, of course, the challenges of this summer, particularly Charlottesville continue to reveal that the battle for civil rights, for racial justice, remains. The dream, in many ways, is still just that. My commitment to finishing this project grows stronger every day.

Next year, Daughters of the Dream will be complete. In the meantime, if you want to get a glimpse into the experience of growing up in segregated Richmond, Virginia, follow my just-started, monthly blog at