March 24, 2013
Valaida Fullwood and Charles Thomas talk about their 400-page, hardback “Giving Back” not as a coffee table book but as a daunting mission, one that was shaped directly by their own life experiences.
Their presentation Feb. 15 to the TEDxCharlotte conference about their experience writing the book is below.
TEDxCharlotte describes itself as “a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.”
TED, by the way, once stood for Technology, Entertainment and Design. Since its founding in 1984, the West Coast conference has broadened, and has been rebranded “Ideas Worth Spreading.”
Here is an excerpt from Steve Knight’s blog on the TEDx site about the pair’s presentation:
“Reframing Portraits of Philanthropy – that was my big idea six years ago,” began Valaida.
The book, published in October 2011, shares the stories and profiles of 200 black philanthropists. As Valaida explained, “For some time, I’ve been unsettled by prevailing stories of philanthropy and who’s qualified to be a philanthropist. The conventional frame is narrowly set.”
The literal translation of philanthropy from the Greek is “love of humankind” or “love of humanity.” And Valaida said, “When love enters the picture, everything changes. And that shift occurred for me.”
The shift she described was toward “a more inclusive and colorful frame” for philanthropy, of people who give “not to elevate themselves but to lift up others.”
African-Americans give approximately 9% of their disposable income to charitable causes. One of those extraordinary people is Valaida’s Aunt Dora, pastor of a church in Asheville, who, in preparation for her retirement, took time out for a silent retreat to ask, “What next?” The answer for her was “feed the hungry.” She went on to find the Our Daily Bread soup kitchen, which, 20 years later, is still in operation. Aunt Dora still puts her monthly Social Security check into its operation, and, at 92 years old, she continues to cook and serve and provide leadership to the non-profit. With that example before her, Valaida said, “I knew the true meaning of philanthropy.”
Fullwood and Thomas last appeared at the Forum on Nov. 1, 2011 to talk about the book.