The Soul of Philanthropy

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum leads community-wide exploration of African American giving traditions with new exhibition.

“This is an exhilarating display of photographs, quotes and digital programming that educates the public about the importance of philanthropy and the historical aspects of giving in the Black community.”

— Camillia Rodgers, Ph.D., Executive Director, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Houston, TX

Groundbreaking in focus and depth, Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy, Reframed and Exhibited presents stories of generosity among Americans of African descent. Centuries-old cultural customs and beliefs about giving, though rarely acknowledged as “philanthropy” in Black communities, have long been an integral and transformational force in lives and communities throughout American society. Photography, poetry and prose weave vivid stories and reveal the long and unsung legacy of Black philanthropists—from generous donors of wealth to ingenious givers carving a way out of no way.

The exhibition draws evocative images and incisive narratives from the award-winning book Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists, by Valaida Fullwood and photographer Charles W. Thomas Jr. Both the exhibition and book explore the African American philanthropy experience and giving traditions grounded in faith, mutuality, responsibility, and social justice. Voices and visages spanning ages and generations illuminate transcendent truths and elicit new thinking about philanthropy.

Love of what it means to be human, the root meaning of philanthropy, is reclaimed by the exhibit. The Soul of Philanthropy draws inspiration from that definition as well as from the literal and metaphorical description of photography: drawing with light.  Each a potent concept in and of itself, combined, these ideas fuel the exhibition’s design and programming. A powerful experience awaits gallery visitors and program participants. Expect a moving exhibition where the images glow, the stories enlighten and your soul is set afire.


“Hosting ‘The Soul of Philanthropy’ exhibit opened the door to a conversation that has been lacking in the African American community. Philanthropy has nothing to do with a check amount. Philanthropy is simply the act of giving from the heart with an intent to help others. The gift and size of the gift are determined by the giver; the value of the gift is determined by the recipient” , said Phyllis Darden-Caldwell.


About the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum
The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, a non-profit 501(c)(3) institution, was founded in 2000 by Captain Paul J. Matthews. It is the only museum in the United States dedicated primarily to preserving the legacy and honor of the African-American soldier. In 2016, the Museum will celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the Buffalo Soldiers. To schedule a guided tour or to learn more about programs and educational forums, email You can also gain insights at


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