Joy is an Act of Resistance

Joy is an Act of Resistance

Chapter Leadership Brief 2.10.2023

By Crystal Fields-Sam
Chair IDEA Committee
AFP NYC Board Member

The feeling that you get when you have told the right story to the right person at the right time is nirvana. That feeling is the perfect combination of knowledge, experience, skill, luck, and magic called Fundraising. Fundraising is the vehicle a worthy cause utilizes to traverse obstacles which would otherwise prevent it from being heard.  Black History Month, the creation and celebration of it, is such a cause and proof that a powerful story can change the world!

In 1915, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, Alexander L. Jackson, William B. Hartgrove, George Cleveland Hall, and James E. Stamps told their story and changed the world by founding what has become Black History Month. It is well known in America that Black History month is celebrated for the entire month of February but, did you know it was created by a Fundraiser! 

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, with funding from several philanthropic foundations, told the story of African American history and the largely overlooked achievements of Black Americans which were not available to the public.  Now Black History month is celebrated all over the globe.  Every year African American History month has a new theme.  This year the theme is resistance. Defined as the refusal to accept or comply with something, this year's theme of resistance can apply to so much..too much.  

When you think about why everyone should celebrate Black History month and why rewriting history to exclude the African American's place in it is so perfidious, its founder said it best, "If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated." Carter G. Woodson. 

When thinking about how you can celebrate African American History month this month and throughout the year, remember that poet Toi Derricotte said, "Joy is an act of resistance."  I suggest you look to some literary greats who not only captured the relevance and significance of the African American life but lived extraordinary experiences themselves like, Ida B. Wells and Zora Neal Hurston.  Continue to get inspired by watching the movie Hidden Figures which features brilliant women like Dorothy Vaughn who used mathematical formulas to launch John Glenn into space.  Round your celebration out by listening to your favorite R&B, Rock, or Country song knowing that those genres were derived from the melodious sounds of Jazz.

Then, think about the direct service work you do with your organization.  Extrapolate how the actions I have outlined above may impact the way you write an appeal letter or organize a campaign. Last but not least, I offer you the opportunity to be inspired!  Come and join me and my colleagues on the AFP NYC IDEA Committee where we not only embrace inclusion, diversity, equity and access but we further these ideals within the Fundraising profession through planning, collaboration,  implementation, and of course…Joy.

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