Celebrating Black Philanthropists

Black Philanthropy Month is an opportunity to amplify the different ways in which members of the Black community have invested their time, talent, treasure, ties and testimonies to meet the needs of their community.

By Cedric Davis, Philanthropic Advisor

In August 2021, Black philanthropic leaders formally launched Black Philanthropy Month in Washington state. Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network founded Black Philanthropy Month in 2011 to celebrate the legacy of Black giving and promote the increased investment in Black communities. In recognition of its importance, both Governor Jay Inslee and the Seattle City Council officially proclaimed August as Black Philanthropy Month last year through state and municipal proclamations.

This effort is designed to highlight the different ways in which Black Washingtonians have invested themselves in meeting the needs of their own community. It also inspires a more comprehensive view of philanthropy itself, beyond the common view that giving is primarily a financial transaction. Instead, this re-envisioning of philanthropy takes into consideration the time, talent, ties and testimonies that individuals have put forth.

Below, we recognize three Black leaders in King County who have made important contributions to the Black community and whose works represent the diversity of philanthropic pathways that deserve to be celebrated.

Dorothy Hollingsworth

Dorothy Hollingsworth spent her career in Seattle as a pioneer in the fight for educational equity. When she was denied a teaching position in Seattle in 1949, she became a social worker and began to focus on education issues. She achieved many “firsts,” including becoming the first director of Seattle’s Head Start program in 1965. Later, she became the first Black woman elected to Seattle’s school board in 1975. During her tenure on the school board, she helped oversee the launch of Seattle’s busing program as an effort to integrate schools. In 1984, she was elected to the State Board of Education, where she served for nine years until her retirement.

Learn more about Mrs. Hollingsworth’s legacy here.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown led the development of Seattle Foundation’s Center for Community Partnerships, which focuses directly on targeted efforts to achieve greater racial and economic equity. As the Vice President of Community Programs, he oversaw the Foundation’s community impact efforts, strategic grantmaking initiatives, convening activities, and impact investing program. He is now the Chief Architect of Civic Commons, Seattle Foundation’s new regional civic infrastructure that aims to unite more community voices in decision-making. Under his leadership, Civic Commons recently launched The Greater Seattle Compact For Belonging.

Learn more about Mr. Brown’s legacy here.

Dr. Quintard Taylor

In addition to teaching African America History as the Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History at the University of Washington, Dr. Quintard Taylor also created BlackPast.org, a nonprofit website that features over 10,000 pages of information on African American History. Some highlights of the website include timelines, primary documents, transcripts of major speeches, bibliographies, and information about other historical sites (such as this list of African American museums). Through his teaching and his extensive online resource, Dr. Taylor continues to make African American History more accessible to the public.

Learn more about Dr. Taylor’s legacy here.

These individuals represent the triumph of Black philanthropy. Mrs. Hollingsworth, Mr. Brown, and Dr. Taylor each identified a specific need in the Black community and committed themselves to enacting change in their own uniquely powerful ways. They are just a few examples of members of the Black community giving their time, talent, treasure, ties and testimonies in the greater Seattle region. Visit BlackPast.org to learn about the rich legacies of more Black residents in the Pacific Northwest deserving of recognition both during Black Philanthropy Month, and beyond it.

To continue learning more about Black Philanthropy Month, join us for these virtual events throughout the month hosted by Black Philanthropy Month Washington. We will leverage these learnings, in partnership with those who share our commitment, to increase investments into Black communities.

Later in the month, we will also share learnings from our In Conversation, In Community” event about the Black-led Joy and Wellness Fund, which is Seattle Foundation’s strategic effort to support staff at Black-led and -serving organizations.