Hartford Foundation & Black Lives Matter
Recently, and unsurprisingly, questions have arisen about the Hartford Foundation’s support of Black Lives Matters (BLM) murals that are being created throughout our region. I offer our Message to the Community: Bending Toward Justice, as the context to our response to these questions. Moreover, we are happy to share some insights into our position on Black Lives Matter in greater detail.
In order to appreciate the Foundation’s position on Black Lives Matter, it’s important to understand how and why the phrase originated versus how it may be perceived and/or utilized now. The declaration of Black Lives Matter emerged out of a series of killings of (primarily) African-American men, by law-enforcement which were occurring with increasing frequency. The killings seemed to be occurring without justification, without recourse, and with impunity to those involved. The declaration of Black Lives Matter, was meant to bring an awakening to the consciousness of a society that seemed unaffected by these incidents.
It was a simple, yet powerful and necessary declaration, that the loss of Black lives should elicit the same revulsion and shock to the moral conscience that would occur if the lives of virtually any other ethnic group were snuffed out under the same circumstances. It also challenged the notion that the presumption of innocence that is afforded virtually everyone else, is not similarly applied in the killings of Blacks. That is how, why, and where Black Lives Matter has its roots.
Black Lives Matter did not originate as a political statement. However, we fast forward to the present political environment and, like so many other originally non-political issues (e.g. the flag, wearing or not wearing a mask, climate change, etc.), there are those who seek to co-opt, appropriate, or politicize these matters for their own purposes. That politicization, while unfortunate, should not negate the underlying value and power of the declaration.
The Hartford Foundation’s support for Black Lives Matter is not rooted in its politicization. Our support remains rooted in its original meaning and intent. Those origins align with Our Mission, our commitment to dismantling structural racism, and with our ongoing support for BLM Murals throughout our region.
Jay Williams, President