Lasting Voices on Racial Justice

Committee Members speak on racial justice & why the Lowcountry Unity Fund matters to them

In the past week, we have shared stories from the first round of grantees from the Lowcountry Unity Fund. Established in the wake of the Emanuel AME Church Massacre, the Fund’s mission is to promote long-term solutions to structural issues contributing to racism and to economic inequality affecting African American communities. Thank you to our Lowcountry Unity Fund Committee Members, who have made the impact of this Fund possible. The quotes below are in response to the question:

Why do racial justice and the Lowcountry Unity Fund work matter to you?

Gus Holt, Charleston Civil Rights Activist, Historian & Unity Fund Committee Member
“I hope that, as a Vietnam veteran who has lived under Jim Crow laws, racial injustice will not exist for another generation to endure. I also hope that our kids will not fall victim to the inequality of the spirit and mind that is caused by institutionalized racism.”

Shawan Gillians, Associate General Counsel, Santee Cooper & Unity Fund Committee Member
“As I see it, the goal of equality is to ensure that everyone gets a level playing field and an equal opportunity to thrive without regard to our differences, whatever those may be. Equality cannot and will not occur unless and until it is demanded by individuals of all backgrounds. We cannot take for granted that equality exists, it is something about which we must be intentional. Racial justice work, and particularly the work of the Lowcountry Unity Fund, matter to me because it is the intentional effort of our community to ensure equality and its necessary predecessor unity.”

Cookie Washington, Lowcountry Arts expert/textile designer & Unity Fund Committee Member
“Justice work is in my DNA. I come from a long line of workers for justice. At age 3 I was there at the March on Washington, with my mother, aunts and uncles, when Rev Dr. King gave his, “I Have A Dream” speech.
I was raised in the civil rights era, and I have been keenly aware that Separate and unequal has hunkered down in the United States, so we all have much work to do.
I am pleased to be working with the Unity fund because I believe if we as one community can work towards the goals of Unity and Equality, the ripples of the good work these grants are supporting will turn into waves of understanding and healing.”

Corie Hipp Erdman, President, The Corinne Company & Unity Fund Committee Member
“It’s very hard for me to put into words what motivates me. Many of my recent years have been devoted to working with others to reveal untold history. During this journey I have learned so much and it has become clear the struggles many have endured to ensure racial justice for the future – these interactions have fueled me to work harder to understand what goes into such an idea. To me, racial justice is equal human rights for all and the best way to achieve this is through education. The Unity Fund is a perfect catalyst to enable smaller grass roots efforts to create many ripples in a much larger pond which I hope will at some point come together to effect true change.”

Jim Campbell, Charleston-born Civil Rights activist & Unity Fund Committee Member
“The need for a ‘racial equity’ process: it’s a central challenge in the wake of the global and national ending of classic imperialism, colonialism, enslavement, and its accompanying, lingering, various forms of expression of apartheid and racial segregation. As a component of the Coastal Community Foundation’s funding work in this vein, clear-eyed choices are vital to a substantively effective agenda of outreach, selection, and funding support towards impact and continuing effectiveness. The deep necessity of confronting these challenges with intelligent and mature effort is urgently needed. I daresay, the congenital issue of racial inequality is our greatest problem in the USA, generally, and most urgently in those “states” which formed the radical ‘old confederacy’. In that catastrophic effort, Charleston, and South Carolina played central, initiating roles and have assumed a near lockstep in the continuity of that dogmatically racist history which was most recently expressed in a cold blooded assassination of nine worshipers in a church during an evening Bible Study Group in which the killer sat for an hour before his actions. Regardless of size or amount, all efforts towards a racial equality process in this city is a vitally necessary response to a historic urgency.”

Thank you to all of our committee members, volunteers and staff for ensuring the lasting impact of this fund.


Related Story

April 30, 2024
Jennifer York Awarded 2024 Griffith-Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year
Coastal Community Foundation is proud to announce Jennifer York as the 2024 Griffith-Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year. The award…
Continue Reading Jennifer York Awarded 2024 Griffith-Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year