Grassroots Organizations Request $100 million to Invest in Black California
Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media
A coalition of movement-based organizations from various parts of California converged on the grounds of the State Capitol in Sacramento to send a message: Black Californians need financial resources to overcome setbacks caused by centuries of system and institutional racism.
The coalition, which included members of the California Black Freedom Fund, the Black Equity Collective, California Black Power Network, and LIVEFREE California called for $100 million over five years to strengthen the relationship between the public sector and philanthropy groups serving Black communities across the state.
The group delivered their message May 10, two days before Gov. Gavin Newsom presented the May Revision of his 2023-24 budget, and five days after the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans finalized its final report, which will be submitted to the Legislature on June 29.
During the rally, Kaci Patterson, who represents the Black Equity Collective (BEC), said grassroots organizations “are our communities’ first responders.”
“When we can go from disposable one day to essential workers the next, we know that this state knows how much they need us,” Patterson said. “And we are here today to say fund us like you know you need us. This budget ask is a down payment toward the state investing in who it says it wants to be.”
The BEC is a network of funders and nonprofit leaders committed to investing in the long-term sustainability of Black-led organizations in Southern California. The members of the coalition arrived in Sacramento from Fresno, San Bernardino, Oakland, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Stockton, Pomona, Riverside, Pasadena, San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego, Fontana, Long Beach and other cities.
“There is a history of systemic racism that our community and our state refuses to reckon with. Yet, when there is a crisis — we can take the pandemic for example — all of a sudden, they need our organizations,” said Marc Philpart, Executive Director of the Black Freedom Fund.
“They want us to outreach to our community, they want us to engage, they want to use us, they want to exploit us,” he continued. “And what we are saying is no more. We are demanding every legislator, the governor and all constitutional officers to get behind our agenda.”
Assemblymember Corey Jackson (D-Riverside) joined the coalition at a news conference outside the State Capitol. Jackson, who was elected to office in November 2022, has a series of pending legislation that addresses inequality affecting Black communities. He supports the coalition’s efforts to secure funding.
“We are in a critical moment right now in our history as Black people here in California where we have an opportunity to reignite and strengthen our organizations and our communities so that we can create better agencies, better power to deal with our own historic inequities,” Jackson said. “We’ve been waiting too long for our government to help. It’s time for us to go about the business as our ancestors did and create for ourselves our own solutions.”
Photos by Antonio Ray Harvey