In an effort to quell the growing firestorm of controversy surrounding how the $79 million Black Lives Matter received is being spent following the New York Magazine’s revelation of a $5.8 million mansion purchased by BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, three leaders of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation—Cicley Gay, D’Zhane Parker and Shalomyah Bowers— held a media roundtable this week.
“Over $25 million has been reinvested into the Black community; that broken down represents over $10 million in grants to Black led frontline organizations, truly doing the work of abolition on the ground,” said Shalomyah Bowers, whose consulting firm reportedly received $2 million.
“Over $13 million in grants to Black Lives Matter chapters. Nearly $3 million have gone out in grants to impacted family foundations. $3 million has gone out directly for relief to Black people who were struggling during COVID when the administration was providing stimulus checks.”
According to a federal tax filing recently made public, the organization had more than $42 million in assets in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021 after having taken in $90 million in donations, most of which spiked in the wake of the protests following the killing of George Floyd. The group invested $32 million of it in the stock market to ultimately create an endowment that would ensure the foundation’s work continue in the years to follow.
The filing also revealed that consulting payments to Cullor’s brother, the father of her child and a secretary totaled $4 million, though Cullors never personally took a salary. As to the $5.8 million residence purchased by Cullors, Cicley Gay said that the property, dubbed as the Black Joy Creators Fellowship”, was not presently being occupied by anyone. Cullors—who no longer has any legal connection to the Black Lives Matter Global Network—acknowledge using the property on just two occasions.
“The creator’s house was purchased as a space of our own with the intention of providing housing and studio space for recipients of the Black Joy Creators Fellowship in service to Black culture,” Gay explained. “The intention is that Black creatives will have an opportunity to launch online content.
“Patrice is always honored as a movement founder and one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement and hashtag, she stepped down last year.”
In her defense, Cullors said that the organization did not have the infrastructure to support the donations.
“Some of my mistakes are being weaponized against me and also the entire movement, and that’s truly disappointing,” Cullors said in a recent MSNBC Into America podcast.
“Contrary to what, you know, has been reported, much of the funding that came in was from individual donors,” Cullors revealed. “That was a lot of white guilt money.”
Added Cullors, “When you make movements, when you build movements, it takes thousands of people to do it. And that often means lots of mistakes are being made, lots of amazing decisions as well. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about in this last year specifically is how do you make mistakes in public without being crucified for them.”