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A black billboard with white text that reads "There Are Black People in the Future"

Celebrating Black Futures for Black Philanthropy Month

Jun 30, 2024

“There Are Black People in the Future” is more than just a phrase; it's a powerful message inspired by Afrofuturist artists and writers. These creators believe it's super important for Black people to imagine and shape their own futures. This statement fights against unfair treatment and makes sure Black people are seen and valued everywhere and always.

In 2017, artist Alisha B. Wormsley brought this message to life by displaying it on a billboard in East Liberty, Pittsburgh, a neighborhood deeply affected by gentrification. When the city removed the billboard, it sparked community protests, highlighting the profound resonance of this message and our community's deep desire to see Black futures represented.

Seeing this support, Wormsley started giving money to artists, activists, and community workers in Pittsburgh. She wanted them to explore and build on the idea of “There Are Black People in the Future.” This project gave them resources to create local projects that support Black futures.

The impact of this project has spread across the United States and even to other countries. The phrase has appeared on billboards in cities like Detroit, Charlotte, New York City, Kansas City, and Houston, as well as in London, Accra, and Qatar. Each place uses the message to support local Black futures in different ways, like giving grants, funding projects, and organizing events. Wormsley's project encourages people to use the phrase "There Are Black People in the Future" in their own ways. This phrase has become part of protests, art, essays, songs, and dreams, always reminding us that Black people are an important part of the future.

Afrofuturism, the cultural movement that underpins Wormsley's work, explores themes of technology, science fiction, fantasy, and heroism to envision liberated Black futures. By drawing on these themes, Afrofuturism conveys a more genuine and empowered image of the Black experience, challenging the dominant narratives that often marginalize Black voices.

Through my work at FutureGood, I provide the tools, framework, and guidance necessary for organizations to create their ideal futures. As someone deeply passionate about empowering organizations, I find Afrofuturism to be a rich source of material for my work as a philanthropic futurist. When I was training to become a professional futurist, I often found myself to be the only Black person, (let alone the only woman or social sector leader) in the room. That reality has only strengthened my resolve to ensure that diverse voices are included in conversations about the future.

This year, I am honored to have been named Futurist-in-Residence for Black Philanthropy Month. This year’s theme is “Afro-Futures of Giving” and so we start by envisioning a new future of Black giving. Together, we can make a powerful commitment to envisioning and actualizing futures where Black people not only exist but thrive. Together, we can build a future that celebrates and supports the presence of Black people in every facet of life.

In honor of Black Philanthropy Month, I'm hosting a conversation about this topic. Join me on Tuesday, August 6, 2024, at 2pm ET/11am PT for a free webinar, “There Are Black People in the Future.” For more information and to register, click here>