Black Philanthropy Month | Martikah S. Williams

"My hope is that more people are drawn to Central New York because of an expanding arts and culture scene. I believe a bright future for CNY is one that is invested in telling the stories of the people of this region and our connection to the other parts of the world."

August is Black Philanthropy Month! We asked leaders in the Black community how they came to be philanthropists.

Here’s what Martikah S. Williams had to say:

How did you come to be charitable? Were there influences in your life that got you started?
My parents had a large influence on me and how I give today. Growing up I’d watch them give often to our church, family/friends and strangers. They’d give money but more often they’d give so much of their time. Whether it was teaching in the children’s ministry, giving someone a ride home, feeding people, wiring some cash or whatever was needed that they had the means to do – they did. On the flipside, whenever we were struggling our loved ones including our church family would often step in to help. It was always about being in community with other people, just having a desire to be there for others. I’m also a believer in Christ and so having a generous spirit is just in my nature. Sometimes I can’t help myself and I try to give more than I can manage, that’s when I get myself in trouble!

What do you want Central New York to look like in the future? How can philanthropy be a part of that change?
My hope is that more people are drawn to Central New York because of an expanding arts and culture scene. I believe a bright future for CNY is one that is invested in telling the stories of the people of this region and our connection to the other parts of the world through more art exhibitions, poetry slams, live theater, concerts and other artistic displays. Philanthropy can be a major proponent of this growth by generous donors supporting local works via financial contributions, and through active participation in-person and online.

What do you feel are the greatest needs in our community right now?

  • Black Arts – It is extremely difficult for arts and culture workers to support themselves and their work in CNY, especially for Black and Brown folks, which is why many of us leave to work in larger cities like NYC and Atlanta. I can’t stress this enough, any metropolitan area where the quality of living is significantly improved is in large part due to a thriving arts and culture scene with major contributions from us BIPOC. We have such a depth of talent/expression and CNY is missing out. Give to organizations that are committed to uplifting Black and Brown arts and culture workers like the Black Artist Collective CNY. Instagram: @bac_cny, Facebook: @blkartiscollective
  • Education – Teachers need support in and out of the classroom and they need better pay, especially in SCSD.
  • Small business – Many new businesses and organizations founded during the pandemic serve long underserved communities and they need help to excel in their service.
  • Black Maternal Health – Black Women are at a greater risk of complications/fatalities during pregnancy in our healthcare system. Give to organizations committed to combating this disparity like Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing. 

Is there a quote that sums up or has shaped how you live your life?
Recently I’ve been seeing/hearing more “Have courage and be kind.” Which is kind of funny to me because I think of Cinderella when I hear that, but it’s also genuinely how I try to live. The world is scary, and each day I go out I make sure to take my courage with me and do my best to lead with love and kindness.

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