We often hear of the Black celebrities (the rich and famous inside and outside of Hollywood) who make large donations to various charitable organizations, but how many lend their names, faces, and time to something that is close to their own hearth, kith and kin?
We say Black celebrities, the Black rich, hardly ever or almost never give to any causes that are specific to the Black community, but maybe the real deal is that when they give ‘from the heart,’ they don’t seek recognition for it. These are “intangibles” that add to their public value and self-worth; so truth told, not many white celebrities, let alone Black ones, “give and brag about it.”
I did a little bit of snooping around because we know of the charitable work of Black celebrities like Denzel Washington, Blair Underwood, and Magic Johnson, but we don’t hear very much about what it is, exactly, that they do. I’m nearly certain that they do plenty that we may never hear about because they don’t want it in the headlines.
In no particular order, here is a short list of 10 Black Celebrities who give, or gave, back to the Black community. Feel free to click on the hyperlinks for more info on these organizations, if you will:
During the Atlanta Child Murders case, Ali put up a $400,000 reward for information leading to information on the cases. In November 2005, Ali and his wife Lonnie opened the Muhammad Ali Center in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. As we all know by now, the Atlanta Child murderer took the lives of more than 20 young Black males before the series of vicious attacks mysteriously stopped with the arrest and conviction of Wayne Williams, who has claimed innocence since his arrest. He was linked to two of the murders, but when that happened, the Atlanta judicial processes closed the door on the rest and laid them all at Williams’ doorstep. To date, no one has been arrested for the other murders that were not linked to Williams.
They call him the “hardest working man in radio.” Joyner is also the hardest working man for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Since 1998, the Tom Joyner Foundation has raised more than $55 million to provide financial assistance to students attending HBCUs.
Russell Simmons is the epitome of philanthropic ventures combined with the artistry of hip-hop. The “rap industry icon”/entrepreneur founded the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and its brainchild, the Hip Hop Summit Action Network in an effort to get more young people involved in and exposed to the arts and social causes.
There is no self-revealing evidence to be found in order to state that Oprah Winfrey bothers with the Black community as a whole, but Winfrey has definitively established herself as a “Giver,” regardless. She has helped more than 5,000 students attend college, including more than 100 Morehouse men, all of whom took the time to thank her on the final episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show. In case anyone is wondering and did not know, Morehouse College is an HBCU and the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Taylor Michaels Scholarship Program, was named after a Magic Johnson Enterprises COO who passed away in 1998. The scholarship program recognizes students with outstanding academic achievement, leadership and commitment to serve their community. The program empowers minority students through financial support, mentorship, internship opportunities, a laptop computer, and an annual leadership conference. The Community Empowerment Centers (CECs) who engage with Magic Johnson enterprises help to bridge the education gap by providing ethnically diverse urban communities access to resources and programming that educate, empower and strengthen individuals through the innovative use of technology.
The bread crumbs of finding Black celebs who contribute to the Black community are turning up the heat on rapster mogul Ludacris, but the official website was offline as of this publication date. The Ludacris Foundation states its mission as “to support groups and entities that support and serve the needs of abused, neglected, or homeless children.” It is located in East Point, Georgia, and the phone number is 404.684.0094 for anyone who wants to find out what is happening with the corporation at this time.
Washington is noted to have made a one-million-dollar donation to Wiley College, another HBCU. As with all celebrities who do charitable giving, one-time or off-and-on donations are not a cover-all for “giving back to the Black Community.” But the impact and power of their donations, whether constant or every now and again, are appreciated. If anyone knows of any other work Mr. Washington has done that is particular to the Black community, feel free to let me know. We do know that he makes a regular showing at the Boys and Girls’ Clubs of America, and that has a serious over-arching long-term impact on inner-city children, most of whom consist of Black children and their families.
Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. is the founder of the Eracism Foundation Inc., a 501c3 non-profit that began in January of 2006. Gossett has committed his life to wiping out all conscious signs of racism, violence and ignorance related to racism. The mission, according to their website, is to “eradicate the systemic impacts of all forms of racism by providing programs that foster cultural diversity, historical enrichment, education and anti-violence.” By way of note, President Barack H. Obama Jr is one of the organization’s contributors. Note: Obama was not ‘separated out’ under his own category, because he is on board with Lou Gossett Jr. and because he is not a “celebrity,” but a political icon in Black America. Say what you will about Obama, but he is not as “incog-Negro” as some of us would like to believe.
No, the family who seems to have forgotten that they are “Black in America” aren’t totally incog-negro on Black causes and issues. Janet is a contributor, amongst her other charitable causes, to The Lisa Lopes Foundation.
The Lopes Foundation is in position to finish “Left Eye’s” vision that she left behind when she transformed from this life in 2002. She wanted to establish a non-profit educational and medical center on some property she owned near the coastal cities of La Ceiba, Honduras and Jutiapa, Guatamala. These nation-shores are highly populated by Mestizo/Spanish people and are amongst the two poorest nations on Earth.
The over-arching mission of the Lopes Foundation, however, is to provide youth from low-income communities and diverse cultural backgrounds with innovative programs and resources to increase motivation and strengthen their desire to succeed in school and beyond.
For instance, the Foundation holds the keys to “World War E,” an initiative that combines music and various aspects of culture with motivational and educational lyrics to start a movement known as “World War E” (formerly known as “the EduTainment Movement”). “The New KnERDS” (Knowledgeable, Educated, Relentlessly, Driven, Scholars), located in Stone Mountain, Georgia; is an educational, motivational music group that consists of students in grades 4-6.
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