African American Philanthropy Experience subject of upcoming exhibition


African American Philanthropy Experience subject of upcoming exhibition 

CHICAGO  — Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy (CAAIP) will host the groundbreaking national exhibition Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited opening during Black History Month at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. The touring exhibition explores the African-American philanthropy experience and giving traditions grounded in faith, mutuality, responsibility and social justice. It opens Feb. 1 and continues through April 30. 

The exhibition illustrates Black philanthropy through innovative and interactive presentations, including luminous photographic prints on metal, iPad kiosks with digital apps featuring music, poetry, photography, narratives and more. It comprises over a dozen vignette stories and more than 50 black-and-white images that depict facets of giving across generations. Elements of the exhibition invite visitors of all ages to share their own stories of giving and to contribute to “reframing portraits of philanthropy”.  Images and stories composing the exhibit are from the book “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists” by author Valaida Fullwood and photographer Charles W. Thomas Jr. 

The locally curated exhibition, titled “Rooted in Chicago,” will also tell the story of philanthropy from a uniquely Chicago perspective. This parallel exhibition aligns with CAAIP’s mission to achieve racial equity and Black leadership in philanthropy. 

In November, CAAIP issued a call for nominations for local philanthropists to be featured in the “Rooted in Chicago” component of the exhibition.  These individuals are being recognized for ‘making a difference in Chicago through their giving of time, talent and treasure’, and join Chicago icons and legends Derrick Rose, New York Knicks; John H. Johnson, Johnson Publishing Company and Wilbur Milhouse, Milhouse Engineering & Construction who visitors will see in the exhibition.  Community honorees are: 

Dion Dawson, Dion’s Chicago Dream, Emerging Philanthropist 

Janell Nelson, JNJ Creative, Hidden Philanthropist 

Leslie J. Anderson-Rutland, BMO Financial Group, Legacy Philanthropist 

Essence Smith, ELMS Productions, Young Adult Philanthropist 

Jahkil Jackson, Project I Am, Youth Philanthropist 

CAAIP will host corresponding public programs, allowing groups to explore a broad range of topics related to philanthropy, including ‘A Conversation on Black Wealth Building and Extraction’, and ‘Everyday Philanthropy Standing in Our Truth’. To learn more about programs and forums, visit The Soul of Philanthropy Chicago website. 

“Centuries-old cultural customs and beliefs about giving, though rarely acknowledged as ‘philanthropy’ in African-American communities, have long been an integral and transformational force in lives and communities throughout American society,” Fullwood said. 

“Rooted in Chicago is about empowering a new generation to recognize their influence and their responsibility to give back,” says Jessyca Dudley, former director of CAAIP. “These exhibitions will bring Black giving into perspective in a way that has not been seen before, allowing us to reframe the overall conversation about philanthropy.” 

The Soul of Philanthropy has been traveling the country since 2015, when it opened at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) in Charlotte, N.C., during Black History Month. Just this summer, Fullwood was in Martha’s Vineyard discussing her work. Chicago is the 10th American city to host the comprehensive exhibit in conjunction with robust communitywide programming. 

Local partners for The Soul of Philanthropy are African American Legacy, The Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Old National Bank, Don & Liz Thompson, IFF, Pierce Family Foundation, Woods Fund Chicago, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, Alford Group, and WTTW/WFMT.   

The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited was made possible through a grant in 2014 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Matching funds and resources were contributed by The James B. Duke Memorial Library at Johnson C. Smith University, in partnership with author Valaida Fullwood, photographer Charles W. Thomas Jr. and New Generation of African American Philanthropists. 

Chicago Cultural Center - Completed in 1897 as Chicago’s first central library, the building was established as the Chicago Cultural Center, the nation's first and most comprehensive free municipal cultural venue, in 1991. One of the most visited attractions in Chicago, the stunning landmark building is home to two magnificent stained-glass domes, as well as free art exhibitions, performances, tours, lectures, family activities, music and more – presented by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and many others. Learn about the latest events and news at and by following the Chicago Cultural Center on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. 

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