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black philanthropy


Philanthropists Eddie and Sylvia Brown donate $3.5 million to the Baltimore Museum of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art announced Friday that philanthropists Eddie and Sylvia Brown are giving the organization $3.5 million to endow the position of chief curator.

Eddie and Sylvia Brown

The couple’s gift will provide a new way of paying for the post of the museum’s chief curator, the person responsible for overseeing the BMA’s 95,000-item collection and for supervising the museum’s curators, conservators and registrars. The position replaces the former job of deputy director of curatorial affairs role that was held until last summer by Jay Fisher.

Amy Sherald’s Planes, rockets, and the spaces in between (2018)

Asma Naeem, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, was appointed chief curator last August. Before coming to the BMA, Naeem was a curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery. Fisher is now director of Matisse studies at the museum.

Now that the chief curator position is endowed, the funds previously allocated to paying Naeem’s salary and other expenses of that job can be freed for other operating expenses, according to a museum spokeswoman.

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

The Browns previously have given major gifts to other Baltimore-area cultural institutions, including to the Maryland Institute, College of Art, where the media studies building bears their name.

Eddie Brown founded Brown Capital Management, a Baltimore investment firm with more than $8 billion in assets under management. With his wife, Sylvia, he established a foundation in their names that focuses on improving lives in inner-city Baltimore.

In a museum news release, the couple said their most recent gift was inspired by museum director Christopher Bedford’s efforts to make the BMA more diverse and inclusive.

“In recent years, the museum’s commitment to excellence has been joined with a vision to examine and present a more fulsome picture of art history, giving a platform to those artists that have previously been underrepresented or left entirely out of our cultural dialogues,” the Browns said in a joint statement.

“With the appointment of Dr. Naeem … this seemed the perfect moment to expand our support for the museum.”


Source: The Baltimore Sun


GIVING BLACK: The Many Reasons Why We Should Financially Support our Favorite Causes.

“Black people are the most generous people on this Earth.” That’s a paraphrase of one of my father’s many bits of socio-philosophical brilliance.

He usually uses it in reference to Black folks’ collective emotional generosity – how forgiving we can be in welcoming some Black celebrity back into our loving fold after some public transgression, even if amends haven’t been fully made. But we are also a people who are quite generous with our material and financial resources.

Black folks’ survival and progress have always been rooted in how well we cultivate Ujima (Collective work and responsibility) and Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics).  Many of us have never even considered adopting the title of “philanthropist.”

All the same, generations of church folks, sorority sisters/fraternity brothers, coaches, educators, mentors, activists, etc. have reliably identified our communties’ needs and valiantly employed ever-more creative fundraising to get those needs met. This, indeed, is precisely what philanthropy looks like.

Young Docs DC
Young Docs DC

While altruism can inspire us to be more strategic and impactful with our charitable dollars, mainstream non-profit organizations aren’t always the most accessible or welcoming to Black people as change agents or to our self-determined issues and concerns as philanthropic priorities.

A great way to navigate this murky space is to commit to learning more about smaller, local non-profit organizations or about local chapters of larger national groups like NAACP (   These groups often afford increased access to staff and decision-makers, giving donors greater opportunity to learn about and influence organizational philosophy and greater confidence in the stewardship of funds raised. 

Donors will also feel more rewarded – and encouraged to give more generously – when the impact of an organization’s work can be readily seen and felt in the donors’ communities. 


Black folks can also consider joining a giving circle like The Black Benefactors (, pooling resources with like-minded Black donors to increase the giving impact as well as gaining valuable insights about giving mechanisms and strategies for individuals and groups alike.


Black people have a broad and deep tradition of giving, from car washes that support a young neighbor’s college costs to multi-million dollar capital campaigns for sustaining our Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We must continue to build on that tradition. 

Guided by the generations-strong spirit of black charity, let’s combine insight from analyzing structures and systems that affect our well-being at every level with the power of organizing and collective action.

Let’s pledge to talk more frequently and intentionally with loved ones about organizations known for their dedication Black people’s advancement and about how we can pool resources to sustain and influence that good work.

Howard University students perform community service nationally and internationally

With eyes on the prize of Black freedom, here are some organizations to learn about:

Young Docs DC

The Algebra Project

Black Benefactors 

Black Youth Project 100 

The Dream Defenders 

Any of the 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (refer to United Negro College Fund for a list)

Kings Against Violence Initiative 

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 

National Society of Black Engineers 

Teaching for Change 

Young Peoples’ Project 

Teaching for Change Bookstore in Washington, DC

–  By Guest Contributor: Nzinga Tull