Introduction: The Ford Foundation and Civil Rights
When Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, announced in June that changes in Ford’s approach to giving are being designed to “confront the growth of inequality in our world”, he envisioned “a social justice philanthropy for the 21st century” in which “our commitment to human rights and human dignity will be at the center” of all the Foundation’s work.
This issue of the newsletter considers how some key people, past and present, were instrumental in positioning the Foundation in the 20th century as a world-wide leader in promoting civil and human rights and social justice, individuals who have been a major part of Darren Walker’s assessment that “the history of the Foundation reflects the history of social progress over the last six decades.”
We begin with the stories of four champions of individual rights and dignity who, in the course of just two months, passed away last fall: Lynn Walker Huntley, Robert Curvin, Sara Rios and Jacqueline Berrien.
Tributes to the work and legacy, in particular, of Lynn Walker Huntley, have been written for the newsletter by two former colleagues, Mora McLean and Emmett Carson.
And we include articles by the leaders of two organizations that have been recipients of Foundation grants, Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), himself a former Foundation staff member who worked with Lynn Walker Huntley, and Antonia Hernandez, who has long worked for Latina civil and voting rights, primarily with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
The picture presented here is but one part of what Darren Walker described as a “quest begun eight decades ago”.