*Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand have announced their latest grants to three institutions at the forefront of cultivating the Black experience to the wider public: the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture ($3 million over three years), Morehouse College ($1 million over two years) and the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting ($1 million over two years).
The multi-year grants are being made to organizations that help shape the narrative of the Black experience in media and popular culture. Their critical work includes education about Black history, improving the way Black stories are told, expanding sports journalism education and opportunity for students at HBCUs, and promoting leadership development among journalists and storytellers.
“Education is crucial for understanding the Black experience today,” says Michael Jordan. “We want to help people understand the truth of our past, and help tell the stories that will shape our future.”
Here are more about the three grantees:
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) memorializes the African American experience in the United States, from the beginnings of enslavement to the present. The Museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural space devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting, and showcasing the American story through the African American lens. Its Social Justice Fund supports curatorial research, education, public programs, and events that broaden public understanding about race and social justice. The multi-year Black Community Commitment grant to the NMAAHC will help expand the Museum’s Talking About Race web portal and Let’s Talk speaker series, helping millions of online visitors explore ways to talk about race and racialized identity.
“At the Museum, we tell stories that are complex and meaningful, stories that have often been silenced from our past,” said Kevin Young, Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. “More than ever, we need those stories to highlight and emphasize the centrality of the African American experience to our nation’s history and healing”
Founded in 2016 by award-winning journalists Nikole Hannah-Jones, Ron Nixon, Topher Sanders and Corey Johnson, the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting is an organization with a mission of increasing the ranks, retention and profile of reporters and editors of color in the field of investigative reporting. It provides training for current and emerging journalists, a year-long fellowship in racial justice reporting, and a membership network. The Ida B. Wells Society, seeking to challenge conventional narratives by amplifying the voices of people of color, will expand its program reach with its multi-year Black Community Commitment grant by funding opportunities for high school and college students of color in the field of investigative reporting and providing professional development programs for investigative reporters that are structured with the needs of reporters of color in mind.
“Investigative reporting is the most important reporting in our democracy,” says Nikole Hannah-Jones, journalist, academic and co-founder of the Ida B. Wells Society. “It’s the reporting that holds power accountable, that unearths the way it’s wielded, tells the stories that people don’t want told. That same reporting needs to be reflective of our country’s demographics.”
Morehouse College has been at the forefront of racial equality, social justice and education for more than 150 years. About 15 years ago, the Journalism and Sports Program was created to address a distinct need, a lack of Black leadership in sports journalism and athletics in general. The program has educated more than 600 students from Morehouse and other Atlanta University Center institutions. Through the multi-year Black Community Commitment grant, Morehouse College will expand its Journalism & Sports Marketing course offering. Additionally, the program will provide scholarships, enhancements of the digital media lab, and stipends to support field reporting assignments and other journalistic work.
“These grants will be well-spent,” says Spike Lee, film director, producer and ’79 graduate of Morehouse College. “There’s going to be a rich legacy of storytellers who will be supported by these programs. Many people are influenced to think a certain way about Black folks based on what they see on television and in Hollywood. We’ve got to tell our story.”