Black Resilience: Building Power in the Bay Recap Blog
“We keep our story alive, we keep our history alive by remembering, by reflecting, and renewing ourselves at every possible opportunity.” – Opening Preliminary delivered by Brotherhood of Elders Network Chief Network Officer Greg Hodge
This past September, over 200 members and champions of the ASCEND: BLO initiative, comprised of more than 300 Black-Led Organizations (BLOs), came together to learn, share and celebrate with one another during the 2nd annual ASCEND: BLO 2020 Virtual Network Summit, Black Resilience: Building Power in the Bay.
ASCEND:BLO was launched in 2018 as a seven-year capacity-building model designed to support the growth, sustainability, and impact of BLOs in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. This year’s virtual event came at a critical and exhausting time for BLOs that are addressing the devastating effects of COVID-19 and systemic racism on their communities.
“Young people are trying to make sense out of things that are so conceptually tough to make sense out of,” said Serena Wilson, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness of East Oakland Youth Development Center. “We are definitely seeing the trauma [of COVID-19]. We are also definitely seeing a lot of resilience and ways in which as a community we can really make sure that we are providing space for healing.”
Understanding that this is an adaptive time for the Network, ASCEND:BLO, with the support of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation used the Summit to release 10 mini-grants totaling $2,000 apiece to organizational recipients that included African American Community Service Agency, Healthy Hearts Institute, Tabia African-American Theatre Ensemble at the San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild, Marcus Foster Education Institute, Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services, Lower Bottom Playaz, Greene Scholars Program, Sister to Sister 2, Inc. (DBA Serenity House), Alena Museum, and Weekend-Adventures.
Attendees were also inspired by powerful speakers that included Gregory Hodge of the Brotherhood of Elders Network and Khepera Consulting; James W. Head of the East Bay Community Foundation; Stuart Burden of Silicon Valley Community Foundation; Judy Belk of The California Wellness Foundation; Fred Blackwell of the San Francisco Foundation; Dr. Robert K. Ross of The California Endowment; and Lateefah Simon of the Akonadi Foundation.
The ethos of the Summit was beautifully captured in the keynote speech by sociologist and civil rights leader Dr. Harry Edwards, whose career focused on the experiences of Black athletes. Dr. Edwards referred to four waves of sports activism as an organizing model to encapsulate what he said Black Resilience means over time. Dr. Edwards reminded us that to have Colin Kaepernick take a knee, we first needed Muhammad Ali to demand “what is my name?” when addressing his religious beliefs. This was only made possible by the nonviolent approach that Jackie Robinson modeled for fans by not engaging with white antagonists – later adopted by Martin Luther King Jr. during the Montgomery bus boycotts. Each generation grew upon the next, Dr. Edwards explained, and has become bolder, more resilient, and more willing to take on repercussions for their beliefs in order to build power and gain a seat at the table.
Similar to the narrative that Dr. Edwards addressed, the BLO leaders in attendance have been addressing the issues of systemic racism for decades, and often times have lacked the support, resources, and unapologetically Black designated spaces to explore that. The ASCEND: BLO Summit is the kind of safe place many organizers and leaders have craved to freely speak and address how to overcome these barriers collectively. Attendees were able to join one of the 8 dynamic breakout sessions developed by and for BLOs. Each year these sessions are one of the highlights of the Summit! “I spend so much of my professional time with predominantly white people; to be in a space with impressive Black thinkers from different social and professional backgrounds is inspiring,” said an ASCEND:BLO attendee.
The Black experience in this country represents over 400 years of resiliency, and BLOs understand the road to building true equitable power in the Bay is a journey that will rely on the waves of the future to eradicate the pains of the past.
ASCEND: BLO is staffed and led by the The East Bay Community Foundation. If you are interested in learning more about the ASCEND: BLO initiative (Accelerator, Stabilizer, and Network) or donating you can learn more here or contact the following staff members:
Capacity Building Initiative Officer
ASCEND: BLO Program Associate
ASCEND:BLO Funders’ Collaborative: Akonadi Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, County of Alameda Supervisor Keith Carson’s Office, East Bay Community Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, Kapor Center, San Francisco Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Sobrato Family Foundation, Stupski Foundation, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, Y & H Soda Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, and the Target Foundation.
Program Partners: Be the Change Consulting, Blooming Willow Coaching, Catchafire, Jeweld Legacy Group, Leadership Incorporated, Saad and Shaw, Walker and Associates Consulting, , Teng & Smith, and Black Funders Network of the Bay Area.
Thank you to our generous donors and funders, the EBCF staff and Board, and the ASCEND: BLO Advisory Board (Julia Beatty, Tom Ellebie, Juliet Ellis, Fran Jemmott, Susan Taylor Batten, Sherece West, and Thurman White).
If you missed the ASCEND: BLO 2020 Virtual Network Summit you can view it in its entirety below:
Opening Plenary Introduction
Stuart BurdenSTUART BURDEN
Vice President, Corporate & Foundation Relations Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Keynote Address: Taking a KneeRenowned sociologist, civil rights activist, author and Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley Dr. Harry Edwards will discuss our rich history and tradition of athletic resistance from Jackie Robinson, Bill Russell, Arthur Ashe, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith to today's Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and Naomi Osaka. Dr. Edwards will explore Black athlete’s tactics, impact and the heavy price they’ve paid as well as address key questions such as: What key lessons can be applied to the leaders of Black-Led Organizations who are on the front lines in Black communities continuing to face the consequences of death by cop and other forms of systemic racism? And, what is the call to action for today's athletes and community leaders?
Dr. Edwards was born in St. Louis; grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois; and, after an outstanding high school career, graduated and was awarded an athletic scholarship to San Jose State University from which he graduated with high honors. He was subsequently awarded two fellowships to Cornell University where he completed a M.A. and a Ph.D. in sociology and was on the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley from 1970 – 2001.
His long and storied history of activism focused upon developments at the interface of sport, race, and society. The combination of his experiences as an African-American, as an athlete in the 1960’s, and his sociology training led Harry to call for a Black athlete boycott of the United States 1968 Olympic team in large part to dramatize racial inequities and barriers confronting Blacks. The movement resulted in demonstrations by Black athletes across the nation and ultimately at the Mexico City games – commemorated by a 24-foot high statue at San Jose State University.
Dr. Edwards, now a leading authority on the interface of race, sport, and society; has consulted on issues of diversity for all three major sports - baseball, basketball and football - and has persisted in efforts to compel the sports establishment to confront and effectively address issues pertaining to diversity and equal opportunity.
He has received numerous awards, been a guest on and consultant to countless sports programs and has written four books: The Struggle That Must Be, Sociology of Sports, Black Students and The Revolt of the Black Athlete.
ADVANCING HEALTH EQUITY THROUGH THE LENS OF STAFF, COMMUNITY AND PARTNERSFocusing on undoing systemic racism in the midst of a pandemic and national uprisings while centering the needs of community and staff is challenging. This session will lift up the best ways to serve the Black community during a pandemic while effectively supporting staff during shelter in place. Beyond sharing concrete ways to build effective systems and teams while balancing service to community, presenters including Rahwa Neguse, Executive Director, Healthy Black Families, Inc. and Gaylon Logan, Founder & CEO, Village-Connect, Inc., will also discuss strategic ways to hold community and funding partners accountable while inviting them to live up to standards of equity that benefit the Black community.
ARTS AS RESISTANCE: CATALYZING CHANGE, EQUITY, AND JUSTICERooted in African diasporic traditions of storytelling, dance, music, and visual art creation, the arts cuts across genres and acts as a critical tool for Black people and communities to tell our stories in our authentic voices as we contemplate our past and envision our future. Presenters including Lisa Gray, CEO, Equity Focus; Melonie Green, Co-Director, AAACC; Melorra Green, Co- Director, AAAC; and Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, Founder/Producing Director, The Lower Bottom Playaz, will discuss how to use the arts to disrupt systems and document change; how it challenges deeply ingrained notions of who we are and digs into the crevices of delicate, nuanced, and weighty issues impacting Black people.
DISRUPTING CURRENT NARRATIVES BY POWERFULLY ILLUMINATING YOUR STORYIn the face of significant challenges and change, powerful communications can promote sustainability and resilience. This session will discuss how to combat underrepresentation, misrepresentation and overt anti-Blackness via asset-framing that embraces Blackness and authenticity in storytelling. Presenters including Kyra Kyles, CEO, YR Media; Brandon Nicholson, Executive Director, The Hidden Genius Project; and Savannah “Sabby” Robinson, APM Reports, Research and Production Fellow, American Public Media Group, will uplift the unique perspectives of community-based organizations and journalists via narrative design and storytelling case studies. You will learn tricks of the trade for immediate implementation to bolster your communications including how to engage and develop trust with external resources to help you define and amplify your story.
POWER PLAY: SUPPORTING YOUTH AS COMMUNITY CHANGEMAKERSDespite major barriers to college, low-income, first-generation youth of color persistently report a desire to impact change in the world. This session will focus on strategies to prepare the next generation of innovators and activists with a systems focus that connects them to People & Ideas, Resources & Information and Power & Influence (W+P=X). Marcus Foster Education Institute (MFEI) presenters including Alicia Dixon, Executive Director, MFEI; Janasha Higgins, Research, Evaluation and Data Manager, MFEI; and Arianna Morales, Program Manager, MFEI will highlight RESET, a hackathon-style event, engaging teams of youth in pitching social change ideas to benefit their communities and cultivate leadership skills for community activism.
CENTERING BLACK WOMEN’S VOICES: A LEADERSHIP STRATEGY FOR CREATING AN ANTI-RACIST WORKPLACEThe individual and institutional impact of being a Black woman leader in contexts that do not nurture Black womanhood is often harmful, assaultive, masked and oppressive. Precious J. Stroud, Founding Executive Director, BlackFemaleProject; dana e. fitchett, Editor, BlackFemaleProject; and Dr. Tameka L. McGlawn, Strategic Research Advisor, will share insights from their retrospective report Reflections 2020. Presenters will lift up testimonials from Black women professionals; provide effective practices for navigating the workplace; and offer possibilities for integrating culturally responsive strategies to establish and maintain a more inclusive workplace. Participants will be invited to engage, share, and contribute based on wisdom they’ve gained from their own experiences.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES:DISMANTLING POLICING AND ABOLISHING PRISONSCan you envision a new normal where Police-Free schools are not a dream, but a demand? Black Organizing Project (BOP) will discuss its decade-long fight and recent win --The abolition of the Oakland School Police Department with the passing of the George Floyd Resolution. Presenters including Jessica Black, Organizing Director, BOP; Ni’Keah Manning, Program Coordinator, BOP; and Jasmine Williams, Development & Communications Manager, BOP, will also reflect on community organizing lessons learned from other informative wins and losses over the years.
SUPPORTING YOUTH AND FAMILIES THROUGH THE DUAL PANDEMICS OF COVID-19 AND SYSTEMIC RACISMThe Black community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 due in large part to the same phenomena behind unjust police brutality and state-sanctioned violence--systemic racism. This session will explore the East Oakland Youth Development Center’s (EOYDC’s) approach to supporting families and youth through these crises while successfully shifting from virtual to safe in-person programming. Presenters including Regina Jackson, President and CEO, EOYDC; Landon Hill, Director of Program Effectiveness, EOYDC; and Selena Wilson, Vice President, EOYDC will share specific lessons learned on implementing safe and responsive programming options for children and youth in need of learning spaces outside of the home.
CLOSING PLENARY - A BRIDGE TO FUNDERS: PHILANTHROPY STANDING IN THE GAP FOR BLACK COMMUNITIESJudy Belk, The California Wellness Foundation; Fred Blackwell, San Francisco Foundation; James W. Head, East Bay Community Foundation; Dr. Robert K. Ross, The California Endowment; Lateefah Simon, Akonadi Foundation; and Moderator Dwayne Marsh, Northern California Grantmakers
VIRTUAL RECEPTIONCelebrate good times and enjoy smart rhymes with Byron Johnson, East Bay Community Foundation, and Marlon Richardson, AKA “UnLearn The World,” Hip Hop for Change. The last 2 PopUp Grants of the day will be announced live so don’t dip out too early!
Comments are closed.