Selma award $3 million grant to fight racism

Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Selma has been awarded a $3 million grant to fight racism.

The grant is part of $24 million given out by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to 13 cities and one state.

Kellogg, one of the country’s largest philanthropic foundations, announced the grants Wednesday.

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The Black Belt Community Foundation was awarded the grant for Selma.

“The goal of the grant is really to transform hearts,” said Robert Turner, BBCF project director. “The heart is where true change lies.”

Turner said more information about how the money will be used would be released at a press conference later this week.

Turner said the grant would focus on eliminating institutionalized racism by focusing on “narrative change, racial healing and relationship building, law, separation and economy.”

The grants are part of a foundation program intended “to improve our ability as communities and as a country to see ourselves in each other so that we can share a more equitable future for all children to thrive,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation.

Selma Mayor Darrio Melton said he hadn’t spoken to BBCF President Felecia Lucky since the grant was announced but said the city supports the efforts.

“I think it’s an opportunity for Selma to showcase again how far we have come over the past 50 years and how we continue to strengthen racial relationships here in our city and, hopefully, be an example to cities throughout the United States and worldwide.

The Kellogg Foundation was started in 1930 by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg.

“This work is essential because we must bridge the divides in our country. Now more than ever, we must all act in big and small ways to help people heal from the effects of racism,” Tabron said.

Grants were also awarded to Alaska; New Orleans; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Buffalo, New York; Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles; Richmond, Virginia; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Battle Creek, Flint, Kalamazoo and Lansing, Michigan.

The grants will be used for on-the-ground projects as well as creating funds that can be combined with money from other sources to create and sustain long-term programs, said Gail C. Christopher, the foundation’s senior adviser and the program’s vice president.

“It’s not a short-term ‘let’s fix one of the consequences of racism.’ It’s really getting rid of the belief of a hierarchy of human value,” Christopher said.

There will be future grant opportunities beyond the first 10 grants, Christopher said.

Earlier this week, the BBCF was awarded a $1.4 million grant to run a Head Start program from Dallas, Choctaw, Marengo and Wilcox counties.