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Visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice: A Planning Guide for Philanthropy

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned. We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. - Bryan Stevenson

by Ellen LaPointe, President and CEO, Northern California Grantmakers and Richard Tate, Secretary of NCG Board; Vice President of Public Affairs, California Wellness Foundation

In January 2019, Northern California Grantmakers Board of Directors and staff journeyed together to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama. Our point of inspiration was the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. Our shared purpose in making the trip was to reflect on the legacy of slavery and racism, draw parallels to the challenges we are facing in Northern California, and deepen our collective practice and investment in equity and social justice movements.

The part of Alabama we visited is widely considered to be the birthplace of the civil rights movement, but was also the center of power for the Confederacy, the heart of the Jim Crow South, and at one time a thriving regional marketplace for the trafficking and sale of hundreds of thousands of human souls. There are vivid reminders and markers – living and commemorative – of all of it everywhere. It was a deeply moving, 3-day experience in which we viewed, felt, and considered this complicated tapestry of our history.

While we will continue to make sense of what we saw and shared, we returned ever-more resolved to engage deeply together – and with all of you – to dismantle the persistent and pernicious challenges to racial equity that we face right here at home in California.

In the spirit of community, we’d like to share some resources to support our colleagues who are planning similar journeys to Montgomery. We’ve put together a guide that includes the intentions and values we set for our trip, background content and resources we used to educate ourselves before our travels, sample reflection and discussion questions we used to help learn together along the way, recommended vendors we engaged to support our experience, and our trip itinerary.

View the Resources

We’re proud to share this in service of NCG’s commitment to equity and social justice. We invite you to contact Daniel Lau, Manager of Programs and Events at, if you have any questions about the resources or the details of our trip.

If you’d like to read further reflections from our travels, several NCG staff members have written about their experiences:

We hope these resources are helpful and inspirational as you consider your own trip.

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