Uplifting Change Summit

In case you haven't noticed, it's Black History Month, filling the civic calendar with recitals, banquets, parades and literary events celebrating the past accomplishments of African Americans. But what are folks doing for the African American community's future?

Many black Angelenos will gather together at the Center for Healthy Communities downtown to map out a plan for future generations at the Uplifting Change Summit this morning. Organized by the Liberty Hill foundation, the event will feature presentations and strategy sessions on effecting social change for the African American community through grass roots philanthropy. California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass will present the key note speech.

Unfortunately, the event is sold out. However, Barbara Osborn, will live blog proceedings from the Liberty Hill Blog.

On the eve of the Summit, I spoke with Kafi Blumenfield, Liberty Hill's CEO and President, about the organization's hopes for this event.

Why is Liberty Hill putting on this conference and how does it amplify the organization's mission?

African-Americans talk a lot about the problems in our community but we don't talk enough about how to leverage the resources we do have and what we can do to solve those problems. That's what the Uplifting Change Summit is all about. At Liberty Hill we're about solving problems. Our motto is change, not charity.

What do you want attendees to get out of it?

We've been hosting salons all over town in preparation for this event. When you ask people if they give to their church, everybody's hand goes up. When you ask if they give to their fraternity, hands go up. But when you ask who thinks they're a philanthropist, no one raises their hand. We need to harness the power we have in our own community and direct it toward change not charity. When you walk into our offices there's a quote in our waiting room by Dr. King. He said: Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

Uplifting Change should empower African-Americans at a critical time in our community and help them make strategic investments for change.

How will Liberty Hill follow up from the conference itself? Any other events or workshops planned?

This is a long-term project for us. We plan a report from the conference proceedings and will continue to work to strengthen social justice philanthropy in the African-American community as well as intensify our own investments to create new solutions, strong leaders and effective organizations in L.A.'s African-American community.

What is one project that Liberty Hill helped to initiate that you are most proud of?

Wow! That's like asking which of your children you love best! Here's one: In 1989 a public health nurse came to us with the idea for a conference to address the crack epidemic in South L.A. That woman's name was Karen Bass. We gave now-Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass her first grant to establish one of South L.A.'s most effective community organizations, The Community Coalition.

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