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Saturday, July 2, 2022

A Liberated Future By And For Black Washingtonians

By The Black Future Co-op Fund

The Emancipation Proclamation promised freedom, freedom that eludes Black Americans to this day. For centuries, those in power have designed and maintained systems to marginalize the Black community.

The history of slavery in America has denied the value of Black people. The truth is the brilliance and ingenuity of Black people is the foundation of America’s prominence in the world. Black people built this nation that continues to refuse us equality.

Today, Black people are creating our own freedom. We are flipping exclusionary and outdated systems of power on their head and asserting our own power with the Black Future Co-op Fund, Washington state’s first philanthropy created by us and for us.

We are the manifestation of our ancestors’ hopes, prayers, and dreams. Working cooperatively, we are building toward a Washington state, where all Black people are liberated, prosperous, and self-determined to fully live our lives.

To accomplish our collective vision, the Black Future Co-op Fund is focused on distinct areas where change is vital.

By centering and uplifting Black voices in everything we do, we recognize the true narrative of Black Washingtonians. Understanding the experiences of Black people from the past and present emboldens our community with the audacity to dream. We are worthy of emancipation, of authoring our own story.

To realize our full strength, the Black Future Co-op Fund is dedicated to connecting Black communities, nurturing trusting relationships, and supporting a network across Washington. The fight for Black sovereignty, for independence from societal systems that have oppressed the Black community, begins with building upon our existing power within Black communities.

It is no secret that racial bias has kept Black communities from the benefits of philanthropy. Data shows that total philanthropic investment in the Black community hovers around 1.8 percent. Since its inception in the early 20th century, philanthropy has been based on a decidedly unfair power dynamic.

We are emancipating ourselves from this system of oppression and fashioning a new model of philanthropy anchored in the beauty, soulfulness, and strength of Blackness. Within our first year, we have infused $1 million into Black-led organizations, no strings attached, to support the powerful work of nonprofits that are strengthening health, education, and economic opportunity with Black Washingtonians. 

We are cultivating economic power and generational prosperity within Black communities.

As we look back at the years since the declaration of the Emancipation Proclamation, we recognize that the freedom we have now was not given, but won.

In celebrating this Juneteenth, we are forging a new dynamic of power. We invite you to join with us to realize the promise of emancipation. Together, we can — and will — create a liberated future by, for, and with Black Washingtonians.

Andrea Caupain Sanderson, CEO of Byrd Barr Place; Angela Jones, J.D., CEO of Washington STEM; Michelle Merriweather, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle; and T’wina Nobles, state senator and president and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League founded the Black Future Co-op Fund, our state’s first philanthropy created by and for Black Washingtonians to ignite generational wealth, health, and well-being.

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