Swans Commentary » swans.com August 24, 2009  



Liberal Foundations And Anti-Racism Activism


by Michael Barker





[ed. This slightly edited article was first delivered as a Refereed paper (pdf) at the Second International Conference on Racisms in the New World Order, University of Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, December 6-7, 2007.]


(Swans - August 24, 2009)   Tens of thousands of philanthropic foundations finance social change within the United States, and last year they distributed $45.6 billion worth of grants. Thus given the not insignificant amounts of money being distributed by such foundations, an important question to ask is: how has this funding influenced anti-racism research and the evolution of race-related activism more generally? Yet to date few scholars in the field of race relations have attempted to address this simple yet critically important question. Scholarly attention has of course been paid to the role of right-wing foundations in promoting often racist neoliberal politics, but for reasons unknown, the influence of liberal foundations has for the most part been left untouched. This phenomenon is worrying given the small yet growing critical literature on philanthropy.

As might be expected, liberal philanthropists like many other unaccountable and undemocratic bodies regularly downplay the magnitude of their influence on society, successfully disguising the arguably crucial hegemonic function they fulfill for ruling elites. Of course, similar claims from other key powerbrokers -- like the mainstream media -- are rightfully met with skepticism, but in the case of liberal foundations the opposite appears to be the case. Consequently researchers (in most fields) have naively accepted the liberal foundations' own benign sounding rhetoric at face value, and have ignored or belittled their influence on democratic processes.

One of the most important books exploring the detrimental influence of liberal foundations on social change was Robert Arnove's edited collection Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (G.K. Hall, 1980). Contrary to popular interpretations of the effects of liberal philanthropy, Arnove observes that liberal foundations like the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation "have a corrosive influence on a democratic society" and "represent relatively unregulated and unaccountable concentrations of power and wealth which buy talent, promote causes, and, in effect, establish an agenda of what merits society's attention." Arnove and Nadine Pinede recently updated this critique noting that while the big three foundations -- that is, Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie -- "are considered to be among the most progressive in the sense of being forward looking and reform-minded," they are also "among the most controversial and influential of all the foundations." Indeed, as both Edward Berman and Frances Stonor Saunders have demonstrated, the activities of all three of these foundations have been closely entwined with the work of US foreign policy elites, including most notably the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (1)

Despite having long associations with both the CIA and also the civil rights movement (relationships that were sustained simultaneously throughout the 1960s), the big three foundations continue (without criticism, except from the Right, that is) to play an important role in funding anti-racism work. Therefore in the light of this information, this article will provide the first comprehensive (and critical) historical overview of the role of liberal philanthropy in funding both racially based advocacy efforts and anti-racism research. The study will begin by highlighting the role played by liberal foundations in the production of two academic books that are widely recognised as having exerted an influential role on the evolution of the civil rights movement. Then, with a strong focus on the role of the Ford Foundation, the article will review how liberal philanthropists deradicalised the civil rights movement, and will then go on to provide a brief overview of the range of anti-racism projects that the Ford Foundation has supported to date. Finally, the article will conclude by offering a number of recommendations for how anti-racism activists may begin to move away from their (arguably unsustainable) reliance on liberal foundation philanthropy.


Early Race Research and Liberal Philanthropy

"Nearly all our [Negro] scholars are in the grips of the white foundations."
Joel Rogers, 1944. (2)

Liberal foundation funding for race issues has a long, oft-neglected history, and by the late 1930s the Carnegie Corporation (alone) had diverted "more than $250 million to institutions concerned with problems of race." However, a particularly monumental decision in racially motivated liberal philanthropy arose in the "aftermath of the Harlem riot of 1935, [when the] Carnegie Corporation's Trustee Newton Baker conceived of the idea of undertaking a broad study of 'the Negro Problem' in America". Shortly thereafter, in 1938, the Carnegie Corporation commissioned sociologist Gunnar Myrdal to carry out what turned out to be the landmark study of black-white relations. The end result of this "lavishly funded" project was Myrdal's seminal book, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (Harper and Row, 1944), a study that Sven Eliaeson suggests might "well be the most influential book on Afro-Americans and American civilization in the 20th century." (3)

In keeping with the elitist nature of liberal philanthropy -- briefly outlined in the introduction -- Eliaeson notes that Carnegie wanted a writer "who was neither to be considered prejudiced nor imperialist," thus Myrdal, identifying as a democratic socialist, fitted this position well. Furthermore, Myrdal's liberal pedigree was already well established, as from 1929 to 1930 he had also served as a Rockefeller Foundation fellow; consequently, it is fitting that Beardsley Ruml of the Rockefeller Foundation played a key role in helping to convince Myrdal to take on the Carnegie project. Yet despite the noble intentions of the Carnegie project, the end result -- that is, Myrdal's book -- was considered by many coloured scholars to have "addressed more the conscience of white liberals than the real issues they themselves were confronting." (4) Indeed, Bernhard J. Stern suggested that while "Myrdal at first took a tough-minded conflict-power approach to the Negro problem [he later] changed it to the 'softer' conception in accord with the moral values of the white middle class because of Carnegie Corporation sponsorship." Oliver Cromwell Cox also concluded his important critique of Myrdal's work by suggesting that the book "in many respects may have the effect of a powerful piece of propaganda in favour of the status quo" and "contributes virtually nothing to a clarification of the many existing spurious social theories of race relations." Likewise, Herbert Aptheker rounded off his rebuttal of Myrdal's book by noting that "we find Myrdal's philosophy to be superficial and erroneous, his historiography demonstrably false, his ethics vicious and, therefore, his analysis weak, mystical, and dangerous." These are strong words indeed for a book that went on to have such a powerful influence over the discourse of American civil rights. (5)

Another key book that helped sustain the civil rights movement -- and is also widely credited with providing the launching pad for the Ford Foundation funded/driven War on Poverty (6) -- that benefited from the largesse of liberal philanthropy is Michael Harrington's The Other America: Poverty in the United States (Macmillan Co., 1962). Again, although rarely mentioned in historical accounts relating to the book, liberal foundations were integral to the completion of the book. Indeed, the founding director of the Ford Foundation's Fund for the Republic, the oil executive Richard R. Parten, worked closely with the Fund's president "to establish programs, including....Michael Harrington's project on poverty (published as The Other America)." (7) Like Myrdal, Harrington was the perfect black voice-piece for the Ford Foundation, having previously founded the Democratic Socialists of America. Furthermore, as Roger Starr recently surmised, Harrington "advocated nothing more radical sounding than rallying trade unions, liberal thinkers from the major political parties, black leaders, poor farmers, women's groups, and average Americans, all to combine to defeat poverty."

This brief introduction to the involvement of liberal philanthropy in funding two historically significant race studies is by no means meant to be exhaustive. Instead it merely serves to illustrate that liberal foundations have played an important role in defining the boundaries of race research. Thus the following sections of this article will go on to illustrate how liberal foundations were able to insinuate themselves into the heart of the civil rights movement, and will demonstrate how they have continued to maintain a high level of involvement in funding anti-racism projects to the present day.


Taming Both the Civil Rights Movement and British Race Studies

Liberal foundations only started seriously funding progressive activist organizations (like the civil rights movement) in the 1960s and through a process referred to as strategic philanthropy, liberal foundations were arguably able to successfully moderate civil society by directing the bulk of their funding towards more conservative progressive groups, thus reducing the relative influence of more radical activists through a process either described as channeling or coopting.

As might be expected, at first liberal foundation support went almost entirely to supporting moderate professional movement organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and their Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Urban League, while foundations also helped launch President Kennedy's Voter Education Project. In the last case, a strong argument can be made that foundation support for the Voter Education Project was arranged by the Kennedy administration, which wanted to dissipate black support of sit-in protests while simultaneously obtaining the votes of more African Americans, a constituency that helped Kennedy win the 1960 election. (8)

Herbert Haines argues that the increasing militancy of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) in the 1960s meant most foundation funding was directed to groups who expressed themselves through more moderate actions. He referred to this as the "radical flank effect" -- a process that described the way in which funding increased for nonmilitant or moderate groups (reliant on institutional tactics) as confrontational direct-action protests increased. Thus even in the case of the more radical CORE, Karen Ferguson argues that both the Ford Foundation and CORE "sought to 'organize the ghetto' by making working-class blacks a decipherable and controllable constituency through schematized topdown expert intervention and the development of indigenous leaders/brokers amenable to both groups' respective visions for the black community." Indeed, Robert Allen suggested that the Ford Foundation might have been the "most important, though least publicized, organization manipulating the militant black movement." So, considering the uneven power relations between CORE and Ford, it is little surprise that even though CORE took the lead "by approaching the Ford Foundation to fund it," at the end of the day it was the "Ford Foundation's vision [of organizing that] ultimately prevailed." In conclusion, Ferguson noted that: (9)

Having found a model to control the black community by containing it according to its pluralist model, the Ford Foundation would use its experience with CORE in Cleveland as a base to complete its vision for African Americans in post-civil rights America. (p.96)

Although the Ford Foundation was clearly active in post civil rights America (see next), even prior to the rise of the civil rights movement the Foundation had been busy manipulating race relations research, not just in America but overseas as well. (10) Mark Clapson demonstrates that from the 1940s to the early 1970s the Ford Foundation fulfilled a fundamental role in contributing to the urban sociology of race relations in Britain. In this regard it is integral to note that in 1952 the Ford Foundation helped found the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), and remained the Institute's "biggest provider during the 1960s" with its strong support "enabl[ing] the IRR to survive into the following decade."

Clapson observes that the Ford Foundation's activities might be viewed as the "philanthropic expression of the 'enlightened capitalism'," as he added that "[i]t adopted an approach that sustained the status quo between ethnic groups through research for policies to ameliorate social problems." By 1974, however, Ford money had stopped pouring into the IRR; mainly it seems because Marxists within the Institute rebelled against the "involvement of large capitalist concerns in the Institute's Research." Indeed in 1974, the IRR's librarian A. Sivanandan published a pamphlet titled Race and Resistance: The IRR Story, which critiqued the Institute's links to capitalist elites like the Ford Foundation, and accused the Foundation of "wanting to pacify blacks both in Britain and abroad as part of corporate strategy of neo-colonial control and exploitation."

Yet, despite his familiarity with the Ford Foundation's work in the UK, Clapson belittles the importance of their influence on coopting race studies in part "as an extension of American hegemony" and erroneously highlights their support for Left and liberal reformers in Britain (e.g., Ruth Glass and the Centre for Urban Studies), as evidence that this could not be the case. Supporting liberals is of course the staple of liberal foundations, but the aid they provide for the odd radical is also consistent with their cooptive practices, as not only do such actions help shield their work from critical enquiry, but they also provide a handy means by which liberal philanthropoids might keep abreast of current advances in radical theory. (11)

Having reiterated the important role the Ford Foundation played in the history of civil rights activism and research, the following section of this article will now investigate how America's liberal foundations act as a "leading force in shaping racial liberalism in the United States." (12)


Funding Anti-Racism Advocacy and Research

[In] the year 2000 alone, the [Ford] foundation's Peace and Social Justice program made some $80 million in grants for human rights worldwide, including $26 million for minority rights and racial justice.
—Ford Foundation, 2000.

[T]he Ford Foundation is undeniably one of African American Studies' earliest, biggest, and most enthusiastic financial supporters...
—Noliwe Rooks, 2006. (13)

The major role played by Ford Foundation monies in funding race-related studies was highlighted many decades ago by Francis Sutton and David Smock, who showed that between 1954 and 1974 the Foundation provided around $20 million to US-based African studies. They also determined that during this same period funding on African research beyond US African studies programs amounted to around $164 million. (14) Of course, race-related liberal philanthropy is by no means limited to the Ford Foundation's activities, but for brevity this part of the article will simply examine the integral role the Ford Foundation has played in shaping the evolution of various race-related advocacy and research initiatives in the United States. (For an extended discussion of the Ford Foundation's support for international research programs, see Edward Berman's book The Ideology of Philanthropy.)


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed in 1909 and is the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States. A key part of the NAACP's litigation work is undertaken by their related NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which was formed in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall to provide legal assistance to poor African Americans. As previously observed, during the civil rights movement the Ford Foundation was an important funder of the NAACP's work, and even in the late 1960s Stephen Wasby noted that the "NAACP's litigation activities could hardly have continued without the Ford Foundation's $4.35 million grant to the Special Contribution Fund in the decade starting in 1967, much of which, including grants for northern school litigation, went to the NAACP's Legal Department." (15) So, given the strong connections between the Ford Foundation and the NAACP it is fitting that Thurgood Marshall's son, Thurgood Marshall Jr., should have been recently appointed as a trustee of the Ford Foundation. Furthermore, it is ironic given the high incarceration rate of African Americans in the U.S.'s colossal prison system that Thurgood Marshall, Jr. should also be a director of the largest prison corporation in the United States, the Corrections Corporation of America (for a critique of this corporation see here).

Given Marshall Jr.'s strange corporate ties it is also worth pointing out that Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who is a board member of the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, is a trustee of the neoconservative nonprofit stronghold Freedom House. Furthermore, in 1999, Gates also co-edited the encyclopedia Encarta Africana with Kwame Anthony Appiah (who is a director of the Sabre Foundation). (16) For a recent critical discussion of Gates's background, see Femi Akomolafe's excellent article, "Professor Henry Gates Got His Comeuppance" (Swans, August 10, 2009).

Three other particularly interesting (current) NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund directors are:

•   Vernon Eulion Jordan, Jr. -- who is a former Rockefeller Foundation trustee.

•   Karen Hastie Williams -- who is a board member of the Fannie Mae Foundation, and is former member of the Trilateral Commission.

•   Andrew Jackson Young, Jr. -- who is a former civil rights leader, a former trustee of Freedom House, and owns a public relations firm, GoodWorks International, which represents clients like Wal-Mart. (17)

Other noteworthy emeritus directors of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund are Marian Wright Edelman and John Hope Franklin (who both serve on the board of counselors of the Institute for Democratic Renewal, see later), and Michael Sovern, who is a board member of Atlantic Philanthropies, and is the director of Comcast Corporation -- the largest cable company in the United States. Such NAACP-corporate overlaps should hardly be surprising because as Joan Roelofs observes:

The NAACP has always had strong connections with major corporations. The civil rights movement of the 1960s prompted new close links between activist organizations and business. The Urban Coalition was formed, and thereafter, corporate philanthropy became more focused on defusing systemic threats. Its goal was to challenge segregation and discrimination while discouraging the more radical suggestions of that era's activists....Today, Lockheed, GE [General Electric], and Boeing are important funders of the NAACP.

The United Negro College Fund

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was founded in 1944 by Frederick D. Patterson, and according to Marybeth Gasman, owing to Patterson's close relations with the Rockefeller-sponsored General Education Board he was "able to convince John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to publicly endorse the UNCF." Gasman adds that although Patterson envisaged the UNCF obtaining most of its support from the general public, the "majority of its support comes from foundations, wealthy individuals, and corporations." Consequently, in line with their funding base it is appropriate that "[t]hroughout its early years -- between 1944 and 1954 -- the UNCF directed most of its publicity toward wealthy white donors, and wealthy white business people delivered the fund's mission and messages." Gasman continues, that "[m]ost of the[ir] early publicity had a conservative tone" and she cites John D. Rockefeller Jr. as noting that the UNCF was "the most promising, non-controversial approach to the solution of the whole perplexing problem of race-relations." (18)

Today UNCF boasts that it has distributed over $2.5 billion, and is the "nation's largest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization." Crucially, UNCF still obtains massive support from liberal philanthropists, and in 1999 they received over $1 billion from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is also perhaps strange that in 2000 UNCF received $1 million from the world's leading military contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp., while the recently retired chairman of Lockheed Martin, Vance Coffman, has also served on the board of directors of UNCF.

UNCF's current president and chief executive officer, Michael Lomax, maintains good elite connections, as he is a trustee of the Carter Center and was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Moreover, former Ford Foundation program officer, the late Christopher F. Edley Sr., served as the president of the UNCF from 1973 to 1990, while his son, Christopher Edley Jr., continues to work with liberal foundations on race related issues as he cofounded the Civil Rights Project in 1996 (see next).


The Civil Rights Project

The Civil Rights Project was founded at Harvard University as a "multidisciplinary research-and-policy think tank and consensus-building clearinghouse" that was intended to "provide needed intellectual capital to academics, policy makers and civil rights advocates." (19) The Project's two founding co-directors were Christopher Edley Jr. (who from 1999 to 2005 served on the US Commission on Civil Rights, is currently a trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation and the Century Foundation, and "was one of the Clinton administration's leading legal and policy strategists on the issue of affirmative action"), and Gary Orfield (who is linked to the Poverty and Race Research Action Council -- see next). (20)

In addition to receiving funding from the Ford Foundation, the Civil Rights Project is also supported by many other liberal foundations like the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to name just a few. (Incidentally, Edley serves on the US program advisory panel for the controversial Gates Foundation.) More interestingly though is the financial support the Project obtains from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organization that was founded in 1971 by Morris Dees, Joe Levin, and Julian Bond. Bond, the SPLC's founding president (although presently serving as just a board member), helped form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (later becoming their communications director) and he has been the chairman of the NAACP since 1998. (21) Dees also has an interesting background as in 1972 he was the finance director for Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern's campaign, a position in which he "raised over $24 million from 600,000 small donors, the first time a presidential campaign had been financed with small gifts by mail."

Dees went on to use his financial wizardry to good effect at the SPLC, because as Ken Silverstein points out in his critique of Dees's background, the "Center earned $44 million last year alone -- $27 million from fund-raising and $17 million from stocks and other investments -- but spent only $13 million on civil rights programs, making it one of the most profitable charities in the country." Controversially though, Silverstein goes on to note that as well as providing "legal services for victims of civil rights abuses" the SPLC also spies "on private citizens who belong to 'hate groups,' shar[es] its files with law-enforcement agencies, and su[es] the most prominent of these groups for crimes committed independently by their members -- a practice that, however seemingly justified, should give civil libertarians pause." Moreover he adds that: (22)

What the Center's other work for justice does not include is anything that might be considered controversial by donors. [Indeed i]n 1986, the Center's entire legal staff quit in protest of Dees's refusal to address issues -- such as homelessness, voter registration, and affirmative action -- that they considered far more pertinent to poor minorities, if far less marketable to affluent benefactors, than fighting the KKK.

Thus it is interesting to note that journalist Jeffrey Blankfort has charged that SPLC acts as a Zionist front group: indeed, the SPLC's most recent "anti-Semitic" target has been Professor Kevin MacDonald, who published the book The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements (Praeger, 1998). This Israeli link perhaps helps explain why in 1994, SPLC's chair, James McElroy, was awarded the (Zionist) Anti-Defamation League's National Civil Rights Achievement Award. (23)


The Poverty and Race Research Action Council

The Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) is a Ford-funded civil rights policy organization that was established in 1989 "by major civil rights and anti-poverty groups....to help connect social scientists with advocates working on race and poverty issues, and to promote a research-based advocacy strategy on issues of structural racial inequality." To date, PRRAC's work has been supported by a gamut of liberal foundations that includes the Ford, Rockefeller, Kellogg, and Levi Strauss Foundations, as well as George Soros's Open Society Institute. Furthermore, prior to joining PRRAC in 2003, their executive director, Philip Tegeler, served as the legal director of the Connecticut American Civil Liberties Union for six years -- an organization that has received strong ongoing support from the Ford Foundation.

One particularly noteworthy Ford-connected member of PRRAC's board of directors is Mike Miller, who formerly served as an advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr., and is presently the director of the Project on Inequality and Poverty at the Commonwealth Institute -- a "public policy research center doing critical studies in the fields of international security, inequality and poverty." The latter Institute is interesting because their Project on Defense Alternatives has an advisory board that includes numerous military advisors, a notable one being the Brookings Institution's Michael O'Hanlon, who in 2005 was the signatory of a letter from the Project for the New American Century. Another notable person linked to the Ford Foundation at PRRAC is Gary Orfield, who serves on their social science advisory board, and is a cofounder and director of Harvard University's Civil Rights Project.


The Institute for Democratic Renewal

The Institute for Democratic Renewal (IDR) is another Ford-funded initiative that works to strengthen movements for racial and social justice that was founded in 1998 at Claremont Graduate University as an initiative of the Levi-Strauss Corporation; other funders of this project include the Carnegie Corporation and the C. S. Mott Foundation. Noteworthy members of IDR's board of counselors include:

•   Lynn Walker Huntley -- who formerly served as the director of the rights and social justice program at the Ford Foundation, and is the president of the Southern Education Foundation (see next).

•   Marian Wright Edelman and John Hope Franklin -- who are both directors emeriti of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

•   Stewart Kwoh -- who is a director of the Fannie Mae Foundation, serves on the Ford Foundation's Leadership for a Changing World National Selection Committee, and is the president of Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.

•   Sherry Magill -- who is the president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, and is a trustee of the Southern Education Foundation.

•   Lori Villarosa -- who founded Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (see later), and is a former program officer for the C. S. Mott Foundation.


The Southern Education Foundation

The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) was formed in America in 1867, and its stated mission is to "improve educational excellence and equity in the South." Its president, Lynn Walker Huntley, in addition to being associated with both the Ford Foundation and the Institute for Democratic Renewal, serves on Human Rights Watch's U.S. advisory committee, on the advisory board for the Southern Initiative for George Soros's Open Society Institute, and as a board member of CARE USA. (24) SEF's chair, Emmett Carson, was "the first manager of the Ford Foundation's worldwide grantmaking program on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector," and is a former president of the Council of Foundations. Furthermore, SEF's secretary Judith Winston was the deputy director of the Women's Legal Defense Fund (in Washington), serves on the boards of directors of Partners for Democratic Change, and is a former member of the board of PRRAC.

In 1995, SEF launched the Comparative Human Relations Initiative (CHRI), which they describe as "a unique collaboration among people and institutions in Brazil, South Africa, and the United States for exchanging information, ideas, and strategies to overcome discrimination and inequality." (25) Although a full list of the foundations and groups funding SEF is not available (online), CHRI's funders include the Ford Foundation, the C. S. Mott Foundation, the Levi-Strauss Foundation, the Coca Cola Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Since 1996, CHRI has worked in collaboration with the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) -- a group that is an integral democracy manipulator linked to the work of the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and which received a massive $1.165 million from the Ford Foundation in 1996. (26)

To help guide the work of the Comparative Human Relations Initiative, an International Working and Advisory Group (IWAG) was created that is "comprised of distinguished men and women from the three nations." Again it is not surprising that the advisory board reads like a who's who of liberal philanthropy, and includes Lynn Walker Huntley:

•   Peter Bell -- who is the former president of CARE International and CARE USA, and worked for the Ford Foundation for 12 years.

•   Wilmot James -- who is the former executive director of Idasa, and is a trustee of the Ford Foundation.

•   Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro -- who serves on the international advisory council of the NED-funded Center of Legal and Social Studies.

•   Khehla Shubane -- who is a director of the George Soros's Open Society Foundation of South Africa.

•   Franklin Thomas -- who was the president of the Ford Foundation from 1979 to 1996. (27)

In addition, IWAG lists a number of other people who have helped their work, and one of the most notable of these individuals is John Powell (see next).

Given the Ford Foundation's evident interest in Brazil, it is fitting that Pierre Bourdieu and Loic Wacquant highlighted the "driving role played by the major American philanthropic and research foundations in the diffusion of US racial doxa within the Brazilian academic field at the level of both representations and practices." (28) Furthermore it seems a little more than coincidental that in 1997 the Ford-funded elite planning group, the Council on Foreign Relations, organized a conference titled The Meanings and Construction of Race in Brazil, South Africa, and the United States. This conference was directed by Nelson Rockefeller, David Rockefeller, and Kenneth Maxwell (who is the director of Latin America studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a member of the executive committee of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and was formerly a program director at the Tinker Foundation). (29) Notable attendees of the conference included Lynn Walker Huntley, Khela Shubane, Anthony Marx (who was a consultant to the CHRI, and has even received a fellowship from the NED's sister organization the US Institute for Peace), the late Elliot Skinner (who in the 1960s served as the US ambassador to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso, and "chaired the early Ford Foundation program for grants to young African Americans for study in Africa"), and Manning Marable (see later).

Finally it is worth recalling that although rarely mentioned the Ford Foundation played an integral role in undermining any significant democratic gains in South Africa's transition from apartheid. The Foundation appears to have first become involved in coordinating South Africa's "democratic" transition in 1978 when the Rockefeller Foundation brought together a Study Commission on US Policy Toward Southern Africa that was chaired by the Ford Foundation's president, Franklin Thomas. In fact, after the 1976 Soweto uprising, the international community (that is, first and foremost foundations and international development agencies) became increasingly interested in South Africa. Indeed, Joan Roelofs notes that liberal foundations played an important role for Western elites by "disconnect[ing] the socialist and anti-apartheid goals of the African National Congress." Bhekinkosi Moyo also documents how rather unsurprisingly "American Foundations sought to influence the struggle and thus the shape of a future democracy in a liberal rather than socialist direction." On this point Moyo cites a former South African Ford Foundation program officer, who observed that: (30)

Philanthropy is pushing the agenda of capital. The political implications of this are that as long as the agenda is perceived to be anti-the interests of capital, then that agenda would not be supported by philanthropy... Donors arrive at priorities through deliberate choices whose impact is to channel the interests and the activities of NGOs into areas where funding is available.

As both Patrick Bond and John Pilger have amply (and regretfully) illustrated there has been no transition to democracy in South Africa (that is, to the type of democracy that the majority of people want); rather instead there was a transition to a harsh neoliberal form of "democracy" that only served to intensify inequities for the majority of South Africans. (31)


The African American Forum on Race and Regionalism

In 2002, another Ford initiative known as the African American Forum on Race and Regionalism (AAFRR) was founded. This Forum aims to enable the Ford Foundation, and its co-chairs (Angela Blackwell, John Powell, and Robert Bullard) and their Secretariat (Deeohn Ferris) to "work collaboratively through the Forum to help broaden, strengthen and promote the involvement of African Americans and African American organizations in policy development, decisions and place-based projects."

AAFRR's first co-chair, Angela Blackwell, is a former senior vice president for the Rockefeller Foundation, and in 2002 she coauthored a book with Manuel Pastor (whose work receives strong support from liberal philanthropists) and Stewart Kwoh (see earlier) titled Searching for the Uncommon Common Ground: New Dimensions on Race in America (W.W. Norton & Co., 2002). Similarly, the background of AAFRR's two other co-chairs, John Powell and Robert Bullard, is informative with regards to their ties to liberal foundations.

Powell is a famous race-relations scholar who has recently coauthored a book with Manuel Pastor and Michael Omi titled Structural Racism in a Diverse Society (forthcoming). Like the many other race-relations scholars outlined in this article, Powell maintains intimate relations with various liberal philanthropists, and has served as a consultant for the Ford Foundation's Africa program in 1994, and has also given recent talks to both the Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Formerly Powell served as the national legal director of the Ford-supported American Civil Liberties Union, he founded the Institute on Race and Poverty, and he presently acts as the executive director of the Ford-supported Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. Finally, Powell sits on the advisory boards of both the Center for Social Inclusion, and the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, and on the editorial advisory board for Souls (see later).

The last AAFRR co-chair is the radical environmental justice advocate, Robert Bullard, who wrote the seminal Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality (Westview Press, 1990). Since 1990, Bullard has written another twelve books concerning the US environmental justice movement (including one published by the radical publisher South End Press), and he is currently "working on a Ford Foundation-funded study of how government actions have endangered the health and welfare of African Americans over the past seven decades." Bullard's Ford link is controversial to say the least because numerous recent studies have documented how limited support from major liberal foundations have meant that those groups in the more radical environmental justice movement have received barely enough money to survive. (32)


The Center for Social Inclusion

The Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) was founded by Maya Wiley (who is a former board member of John Powell's Institute on Race and Poverty) and Jocelyn Sargent to work to dismantle structural racism. The Center's two founders met while working on race and poverty issues at George Soros's Open Society Institute, and CSI's work obtains the "generous support" of the Open Society Institute and the Ford Foundation. As mentioned earlier, John Powell serves on CSI's advisory board, but another notable CSI advisor is Richard Healey, who is the president of the Grassroots Policy Project -- a project whose board of directors includes Anne Bartley, who incidentally is a vice chair of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.


The Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity

The Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE) was established in 2003 and is a "multiyear project intended to increase the amount and effectiveness of resources aimed at combating institutional and structural racism in communities through capacity building, education, and convening of grantmakers and grantseekers." To date, PRE's coordinating work has been funded by the C.S. Mott Foundation, as well as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Annie E. Casey Foundation. PRE's director, Lori Villarosa, was formerly a program officer with the C. S. Mott Foundation, and she currently serves on the board of counselors for the Institute for Democratic Renewal, on the Program Committee of the Association of Black Foundation Executives, on the Racial Equity Committee of the National Network of Grantmakers, and she is also a member of Hispanics in Philanthropy. PRE's advisory board is home to many Ford-linked individuals, which include John Powell, Jacqueline Berrien (who is an associate director-counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund), Kumi Naidoo (who is the secretary general and chief executive officer of the Ford-funded CIVICUS), and Makani Themba-Nixon (who is a board member of Africa Action).

Makani Themba-Nixon's affiliation to Africa Action is particularly noteworthy because this group was established in 1953 and it is the "oldest organization in the U.S. working on African affairs." According to their Web site their "mission is to change U.S. Africa relations to promote political, economic and social justice in Africa." Until late 2007, the executive director of Africa Action was Nii Akuetteh, and it is important to note that she was also the founding executive director of George Soros's Open Society Initiative for West Africa. Akuetteh's replacement at Africa Action is Gerald LeMelle, who formerly served as the deputy executive director for Advocacy at Amnesty International USA, and prior to this was the director of African Affairs with the Phelps-Strokes Fund. LeMelle is also a member of the Ford-funded elite planning group the Council on Foreign Relations. (33) Ford-related members of Africa Action's board of directors include:

•   Mark Toney (vice chair) -- who was the executive director of the Ford-funded Center for Third World Organizing.

•   Howard Jeter -- who was the former US Ambassador to Nigeria, is a board member of the NED/Ford-funded Africare, a former Ford Foundation doctoral fellow, and is a former executive vice president of GoodWorks International (see earlier).

•   Ayesha Imam -- who is the current chair of the Africa Democracy Forum -- which is host to a number of NED-funded groups.

•   Inca Mohamed -- who is the executive director of the Management Assistance Group, and prior to this was a program officer at the Ford Foundation.


Other Miscellaneous Projects

Although there are far too many Ford-funded projects to list in this brief overview of their work, some other initiatives that demonstrate the diversity of the Foundation's interests include: Harvard University's Pluralism Project that was founded in 1991 to "document the contours" of the U.S.'s multi-religious society, although in 2000 they started examining other multi-religious societies as well; the Advancement Project, a "policy, communications and legal action group" that was formed in 1998 to "[address] a bedrock racial justice issue: expanding the active electorate"; (34) the UN-sponsored world conference against racism in South Africa, which obtained more than $10 million from the Ford Foundation; (35) ERASE Racism that was launched in 2001 to lead "public policy advocacy campaigns....to promote racial equity in housing, public school education and healthcare"; the W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard University, a lecture series that was "established in 1981 with funding from the Ford Foundation"; and the University of California's Center for Black Studies AfroGEEKS conference.


[Non]Controversial Ford-Funded Media Projects

In 1988, the Ford Foundation launched a "media program to support projects using film, video, and radio to explore public policy issues." Funding for this media program was initially quite modest, but in 2005, the Ford Foundation distributed just under $38 million of grants for media projects ($2 million of which was designated for international media programs). With regard to racism-related media projects, in 1991 the Ford media program gave a $200,000 grant to Blackside Productions so they could produce a film about Malcolm X. The irony of the Ford Foundation funding such a project appears to have been lost on most media commentators, because as noted earlier, the Ford Foundation's selective funding of the civil rights movement played a key role in undermining public support of Malcolm X. (36) Yet despite the controversial nature of this documentary's funding, the film was released in 1994 as Malcolm X: Make it Plain, with no public examination of the Ford Foundation sponsorship of the film -- a film that Manning Marable notes "is the best film resource currently available on the subject" (e-mail to author).

In e-mail correspondence with Marable on the subject of Ford Funding of anti-racism work I pointed out that: "The real problem is that if we want to move towards some form of participatory democracy it is unlikely to be funded by undemocratic liberal foundations who divert most of their funding to groups that maintain the status quo." In response to this and other criticisms Marable said:

Ford is still more complicated than you suggest. A number of Marxists and left intellectuals have been employed there as program officers since the 1990s, so many of their Third World projects have been good and progressive. Your overall critique, however, is absolutely correct. (37)

Paradoxically, given Marable's evident concurrence with my general critique, it is ironic that a few months after our correspondence it was announced that Columbia University's Center for Contemporary Black History (CCBH) -- a Center founded by Marable in 2002 -- had accepted a $91,219 grant from the Ford Foundation to work with the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia to develop a "prototype [teaching] module for the period covering the modern Civil Rights and Black Power Movements (1954-1975)." The CCBH is the research unit of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, which was founded by Marable in 1993, and is currently running three initiatives: the Malcolm X Project, the Africana Criminal Justice Project, and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society.

Looking more closely at the work of the latter project, the quarterly academic journal, Souls (which was launched in 1999, and is edited by Marable), it is apparent that Marable has a number of other indirect Ford-links. These come through Souls editorial working group that includes Dana-Ain Davis (who is the consulting executive director of the Adco Foundation, and serves on the board of the New York Foundation, a foundation that in the past has included Helene Kaplan -- the current chair of the Carnegie Corporation -- on their board of directors), and Black Power researchers Peniel Joseph and Dorian Warren (both of whom have been the recipients of Ford Foundation fellowships). (38) Two notable Ford-connected members of Souls editorial advisory board are John Powell and Anthony Marx (see earlier).

Finally, it is interesting to observe that Marable is a member of New York Jobs with Justice, a group that describes itself as a "permanent coalition of community, labor, religious and student organizations working to build power for poor and working class people" in New York. Other liberal philanthropy-linked members of this coalition include:

•   Derrick Bell, Jr. -- whose influential book Race, Racism and American Law (Little, Brown, 1973) was published with Ford Foundation aid, while he himself has served as Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

•   Gara LaMarche -- who formerly served as the vice president and director of US programs for the Open Society Institute.

•   William Lynch, Jr. -- who is a director of the Advancement Project.

•   Ruth Messinger -- who is the president of the international development agency, American Jewish World Service, and is a board member of InterAction.

•   Rabbi Jennie Rosenn -- who is a program director for the Nathan Cummings Foundation.



Counter to popular misunderstandings of their work, rather than promoting progressive and more participatory forms of democracy, liberal philanthropy actually serves the opposite purpose by helping preserve gross inequalities, thereby legitimising the status quo. It should not be surprising that Robert Arnove and Nadine Pinede note that although the Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford foundations' "claim to attack the root causes of the ills of humanity, they essentially engage in ameliorative practices to maintain social and economic systems that generate the very inequalities and injustices they wish to correct." Indeed they conclude that although the past few decades these foundations have adopted a "more progressive, if not radical, rhetoric and approaches to community building" that gives a "voice to those who have been disadvantaged by the workings of an increasingly global capitalist economy, they remain ultimately elitist and technocratic institutions". (39)

The inherent contradiction of anti-racism activists and researchers receiving significant support from liberal elites becomes clearer when it is understood that the two most influential liberal foundations, the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, created and continue to provide substantial financial aid to elite planning groups like the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. (40) As INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence dryly observe in their book titled The Revolution Will Not Be Funded (South End Press, 2007), the one revolution that capitalists will not bankroll will be the revolution at home, that is, here in our Western democracies.

In stark contrast to the democratic rhetoric of the philanthropic activities of liberal foundations, much evidence contradicts their democratic credentials. No doubt all philanthropists are attempting to strengthen a democracy of sorts, but the root problem (or issue at stake) lies in differing definitions of democracy. Progressive grassroots anti-racism activists tend to call for more substantial or participatory forms of democratic governance, while liberal foundations tend to be more interested in promoting procedural democracy or polyarchy.

Unfortunately, given the insidious activities and far-reaching influence of liberal foundations -- as demonstrated in this article -- the "very existence of many social justice organizations has often come to rest more on the effectiveness of professional (and amateur) grant writers than on skilled -- much less 'radical' -- political educators and organizers." So now more than ever, it is vital that progressive citizens committed to racial equality (and more often than not more participatory forms of democracy) work to develop alternate funding mechanisms for sustaining anti-racism activism and research that can breach the limitations imposed by liberal foundations. Indeed, as Stephanie Guilloud and William Cordery point out, "[d]eveloping a real community-based economic system that redistributes wealth and allows all people to gain access to what they need is essential to complete our vision of a liberated world. Grassroots fundraising strategies are a step in that direction." Anti-racism researchers and activists need to work alongside community activists to address the vexing issue of liberal philanthropy, because if this issue is not addressed now it will no doubt continue to have dire consequences for the future of progressive activism -- and democracy more generally. (41)




1.  Robert Arnove, Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (G.K. Hall, 1980), p.1; Robert Arnove and Nadine Pinede, "Revisiting the 'Big Three' Foundations," Critical Sociology, 33,3, (2007), p.391; Edward Berman, The Ideology of Philanthropy: The Influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations on American Foreign Policy (State University of New York Press, 1983); Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper?: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (Granta, 1999).

Notably, Nadine Pinede completed her PhD in 2002 with the aid of a Nadine Pinede Ford Foundation Dissertation Diversity Fellowship, and went on to become the program coordinator of Grantmakers Without Borders (2002-03).  (back)

2.  Brenda Plummer writes that: "Journalist and self-published historian Joel A. Rogers had bemoaned the ingress of philanthropy on black scholarship in his Pittsburgh Courier column as early as 1944. 'Nearly all our scholars are in the grips of the white foundations and philanthropists, who use them,' Rogers complained. The purpose was 'to keep the Negro in his so-called place' and help 'discredit, belittle, and create mistrust of the few Negroes who dare to have a soul of their own.'" Brenda Plummer, Rising Wind: Black Americans and U.S. Foreign Affairs, 1935-1960 (University of North Carolina Press, 1996), p.228.  (back)

3.  Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, "A Philanthropic Foundation at Work: Gunnar Myrdal's American Dilemma and the Carnegie Corporation," Minerva, 25, 4, (1987), p.442; Nikhil Pal Singh, Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2004), p.134; Sven Eliaeson, "Gunnar Myrdal: A Theorist of Modernity," Acta Sociologica, 43,4, (2000), p.336.  (back)

4.  Sven Eliaeson, "Gunnar Myrdal," p.336, p.337, p.338.  (back)

5.  Bernhard J. Stern cited in Richard Robbins, Sidelines Activist: Charles S. Johnson and the Struggle for Civil Rights (University Press of Mississippi, 1996); Oliver Cox, Caste, Class, and Race: A Study in Social Dynamics (Monthly Review Press, 1959), p.538; Herbert Aptheker, The Negro People in America: A Critique of Gunnar Myrdal's an American Dilemma (International Publishers, 1946).

An important recent work that "traces the ideological cooptation of one of the twentieth century's most vibrant social movements" is Cedric Johnson's Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2007). Also see, Harold Cruse, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: A Historical Analysis of the Failure of the Black Leadership (Morrow, 1967); Jerry Gafio Watts (ed.), Harold Cruse's The crisis of the Negro Intellectual Reconsidered (Routledge, 2004).  (back)

6.  Gregory Raynor, "The Ford Foundation's War on Poverty," In: Ellen Condliffe Lagemann (ed.), Philanthropic Foundations: New Scholarship, New Possibilities (Indiana University Press, 1999).  (back)

7.  In 1962, Richard Parten served in the Kennedy administration as official advisor for oil policy for the secretary of the interior (Stewart Udall).  (back)

8.  Craig Jenkins, "Channeling Social Protest: Foundation Patronage of Contemporary Social Movements" In: Walter Powell and Elisabeth Stephanie Clemens (eds.), Private Action and the Public Good (Yale University Press, 1998), p.212.

In addition, liberal foundations also provided support to black capitalist organizations like the Negro Industrial and Economic Union, which in 1968 received $520,000 from the Ford Foundation (Ford Foundation 1968 Annual Report, p.29).  (back)

9.  Herbert Haines, Black Radicals and the Civil Rights Mainstream, 1954-1970 (University of Tennessee Press, 1988), pp.82-99; Herbert Haines, "Black Radicalization and the Funding of Civil Rights: 1957-1970," Social Problems, 32, 1, (1984), pp.21-43; Karen Ferguson, "Organizing the Ghetto: The Ford Foundation, Core, and White Power in the Black Power Era, 1967-1969," Journal of Urban History, 34, 1, (2007), p.69; Robert Allen, Black Awakening in Capitalist America: An Analytic History (Doubleday, 1969), p.61.  (back)

10.  At the same time the Ford Foundation was also supporting eugenic-inspired population control research whose main thrust was directed at the developing world; see "Environmental Populationism, A Dangerous Obsession."  (back)

11.  Mark Clapson, "The American Contribution to the Urban Sociology of Race Relations in Britain from the 1940s to the Early 1970s," Urban History, 33, 2, (2006), p.265, p.272.  (back)

12.  Karen Ferguson, "Organizing the Ghetto," p.96.  (back)

13.  Noliwe Rooks, White Money/Black Power: The Surprising History of African American Studies (Beacon Press, 2006), p.28.  (back)

14.  Francis Sutton and David Smock, "The Ford Foundation and African Studies," A Journal of Opinion, 6, 2/3, (1976), p.68, p.71.  (back)

15.  Stephen Wasby, Race Relations Litigation in an Age of Complexity (University Press of Virginia, 1995), p.93.  (back)

16.  Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah is the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, and in 1996 he published Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race with Amy Gutmann (who incidentally is a trustee of the Carnegie Corporation).  (back)

17.  Bruce Dixon, "Andy Young: The Shameless Son," The Black Commentator, March 2, 2006.  (back)

18.  Marybeth Gasman, "Rhetoric Vs. Reality: The Fundraising Messages of the United Negro College Fund in the Immediate Aftermath of the Brown Decision," History of Education Quarterly, 44, 1, (2004), p.74, p.75.  (back)

19.  In 2007 the Project moved to UCLA.  (back)

20.  In 1996 Christopher Edley, Jr. published the book Not All Black and White: Affirmative Action, Race and American Values (Macmillan, 1996). In 2007, former RAND Corporation researcher (1980-85) Patricia Gandara became the Civil Rights Project's new co-director, working alongside Gary Orfield. Gandara's most recent publication is Over the Ivy Walls: The Educational Mobility of Low-Income Chicanos (State University of New York Press, 1995).  (back)

21.  Julian Bond chairs the editorial board of the weekly internet magazine, The Black Commentator: other notable members of this board include the Ford Foundation connected Manning Marable (see later), Imani Countess (who is the former executive director of the Africa Policy Information Center -- a group now known as Africa Action, see later -- and presently serves as a member of Human Rights Watch's Africa advisory committee), and Emira Woods (who is the co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies, and is the chair of the board of directors of Africa Action). It is worth noting that the executive director of The Black Commentator, Bill Fletcher, Jr. , is a member of the editorial advisory board of Manning Marable's journal Souls. Additionally, Fletcher has also served as a co-chair of the controversial organization, United for Peace and Justice, and he formerly acted as an assistant to the president of the AFL-CIO -- an important union that historically played a key role in the implementing the US government's anti-democratic foreign policy. For an unrelated criticism of Fletcher's recent reporting on Zimbabwe, see Stephen Gowans, "Fletcher: Where's the Substance?," What's Left, February 24, 2009.

Cornel West, who has coauthored a number of books with the aforementioned conservative black commentator Henry Louis Gates, Jr., like Fletcher, serves on the editorial advisory board of Souls. So it is interesting to note that as Steven Salaita writes in his recent article "Cornel West And The Ethics Of Faithful Equivocation" (Swans, April, 20, 2009), West "is one of a handful of modern American intellectuals who have come to symbolize academic radicalism among popular commentators without ever actually having proposed any truly radical ideas."  (back)

22.  Ken Silverstein, "The Church of Morris Dees," Harper's Magazine, November 2000.  (back)

23.  Writing in 2002, Jeffrey Blankfort, Anne Poirier, and Steve Zeltzer noted that: " In 1993, the District of Attorney of San Francisco released 700 pages of documents implicating the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that claims to be a defender of civil rights, in a vast spying operation directed against American citizens who were opposed to Israel's policies in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza and to the apartheid policies of the government of South Africa and passing on information to both governments."  (back)

24.  CARE USA is a high profile humanitarian organization that is the US arm of CARE International, a group that works all over the world. Although CARE International is a "confederation composed of twelve national Members, each being an autonomous non-governmental organization in its own right" by far the largest member of CARE International is CARE USA. In 2004, the top five branches of CARE -- in terms of annual revenue -- were USA ($480 million), Canada ($107 million), UK ($52 million), Australia ($35 million), and France ($12 million). Although CARE International works closely with international development agencies like the US Agency for International Development (AID), their board of directors does not appear to have any direct links to the broader democracy-manipulating community; however, the board members of CARE USA are more firmly connected to such elites. Thus notable board members in CARE's US branch include their president, Helene Gayle (who has been a director of the HIV, TB and reproductive health program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and was chief of the HIV/AIDS division for USAID), chairman Lincoln Chen (who is a former vice president for strategy of the Rockefeller Foundation, and served as a Ford Foundation representative in India and Bangladesh during the 1970s and 1980s), and Joan Dunlop (who has worked for the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is a trustee of the Open Society Institute, and is the founder and former president of the International Women's Health Coalition).  (back)

25.  In 2001 at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, SEF releases Beyond Racism, a unique comparative anthology on Brazil, South Africa, and the United States offering insight and analysis about lessons learned in SEF's Comparative Human Relations Initiative.  (back)

26.  Julie Hearn, "Aiding Democracy? Donors and Civil Society in South Africa," Third World Quarterly, 21, 5, (2000), p.827.  (back)

27.  In 1991, the president of the Ford Foundation, Franklin Thomas, received nonedible apples as Brotherhood Week awards from the Association for a Better New York and 100 Black Men -- an award that is given annually to two people for improving race relations. This is particularly interesting because two years earlier, in May 1989, after spending three years and a massive $3 million the Ford Foundation released a report called The Common Good: Social Welfare and the American Future. The report set out to critically examine the U.S.'s social welfare system, given that "in 40 years there will be an aging population supported by a work force that is more black and brown in its composition. It was to take account of the deterioration in the school system and the pressures created by immigration, the changing American family, racial tensions and violence" (Franklin cited in Teltsch, 1989). As might be expected with a Ford-supported project, although some commentators were concerned that the report was going to suggest that there was something fundamentally wrong with the social welfare system, Robert Ball, the former United States Commissioner of Social Security, noted that the report simply concluded that "what we have is fundamentally sound and what is needed is improvements."  (back)

28.  Pierre Bourdieu and Loic Wacquant, "On the Cunning of Imperialist Reason," Theory, Culture & Society, 16, 1, (1999), p.46.  (back)

29.  The Tinker Foundation was established in 1959 to address environmental policy, economic policy or governance issues by distributing grants to organizations concerned with the affairs of Spain, Portugal, Ibero-America and Antarctica. Critically, the Tinker Foundation provides funding to a number of key "democracy promoting" organizations including Freedom House, and Partners for Democratic Change. In addition, they have provided support to various groups that have also received NED aid, including the Venezuelan NGO Consorcio Desarrollo y Justicia, the Pervian NGO Agenda: PERU, and two Argentine NGO's, the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth, and the Civil Association for Equality and Justice.  (back)

30.  Joan Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (State University of New York Press, 2003), p.497; Bhekinkosi Moyo, Setting the Development Agenda? U.S. Foundations and the NPO Sector in South Africa: A Case Study of Ford, Mott, Kellogg and Open Society Foundations, PhD Thesis: University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. 2005, p.4, p.149.  (back)

31.  Patrick Bond, Elite Transition: From Apartheid to Neoliberalism in South Africa (Pluto Press, 2000); John Pilger, Freedom Next Time (Bantam Press, 2006).  (back)

32.  Robert Brulle and Craig Jenkins, "Foundations and the Environmental Movement: Priorities, Strategies, and Impact," In: Daniel Faber and Deborah McCarthy (eds.), Foundations for Social Change: Critical Perspectives on Philanthropy and Popular Movements (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005).  (back)

33.  Africa Action is the educational affiliate of the Washington Office on Africa. Thus given that Imani Countess, the former head of Africa Action (then known as the Africa Policy Information Center, 1992-97), is an advisor for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)-connected Human Rights Watch, it is ironic that the coauthor of the only critical book on the imperial activities of the CFR, William Minter, worked for Africa Action and its predecessor organization, the Africa Policy Information Center, from 1992 through fall 2003. For further details of Minter's work on the CFR, see Laurence Shoup and William Minter, Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy (Monthly Review Press, 1977).  (back)

34.  The chair of the board of the Advancement Project, Gerald Torres, has served on the advisory board of the Open Society Institute, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and "was honored with the 2004 Legal Service Award from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) for his work to advance the legal rights of Latinos." Writing in 1970, Rees Lloyd and Peter Montague noted: "In Texas, Ford invested $2.2 million to establish the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, generally known as MALD. Patterned after the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, MALD was intended by Ford to be South-west-wide, and perhaps national in scope. In New Mexico at least, MALD has been conspicuously absent from the more controversial issues."

Rees Lloyd and Peter Montague, "Ford and La Raza: 'They Stole Our Land and Gave Us Powdered Milk'," Ramparts, September 1970, p.15.  (back)

35.  Manning Marable, "Global Apartheid in the Twenty-First Century," Peace Work, 2002/03.  (back)

36.  Similarly in 1993 the Ford Foundation provided $1.5 million to a group to produce a public television series called America's War on Poverty, which "document[ed] the programs initiated by the federal government in the 1960s to assist disadvantaged groups." Again, there is an obvious conflict of interest here, as the Foundation itself was the primary architect of the government's War on Poverty. In the same year, the Foundation also supplied $0.7 million to another group to produce a "documentary film series titled Chicano! A History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, and another group with $0.5 million to make "a television series documenting the contemporary women's movement." As in the Malcolm X case, it is ironic that the Ford Foundation also played a crucial role in undermining the radicalising tendencies of both the Chicano and Women's movements: but again there is no critical commentary of these documentaries with regards to their controversial funding.  (back)

37.  E-mail Correspondence to Author, January 13, 2007, January 18, 2007.  (back)

38.  In 2006 Peniel Joseph published two books, Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (Henry Holt and Co., 2006), and the edited volume The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era (CRC Press, 2006).  (back)

39.  Robert Arnove and Nadine Pinede, "Revisiting the 'Big Three' Foundations," Critical Sociology, 33, 3, (2007), p.393, p.422.  (back)

40.  Laurence Shoup and William Minter, Imperial Brain Trust (Monthly Review Press, 1977); Holly Sklar, Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management (South End Press, 1980).  (back)

41.  Dylan Rodriguez, "The Political Logic of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex," In: INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. (eds.), The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (South End Press, 2007), p.27; Stephanie Guilloud and William Cordery, "Fundraising Is Not a Dirty Word," In: INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. (Eds.), The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (South End Press, 2007), p.111.

Radical scholar, Dylan Rodriguez, is a former Ford Foundation predoctoral and postdoctoral fellow.  (back)


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Michael Barker is an independent researcher who currently resides in Australia. In addition to his work for Swans, which can be found in the 2008 and 2009 archives, his other articles can be accessed at michaeljamesbarker.wordpress.com.



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Published August 24, 2009