Nearly 30 years ago, Living Cities began as the National Community Development Initiative (NCDI), an organization made up of many of the same philanthropic members we have today and designed to support community development across the U.S. In those days, we were primarily focused on building and sustaining affordable housing, and though we were successful in many ways, our efforts were completely race neutral.
In our latest interactive piece, we wanted to reckon with the landmark political and cultural history that pushed both Living Cities as an organization–and as a philanthropic collective–forward. We wanted to highlight the moments during which our staff and members were actively considering race and racism in their decision-making, and points in time where we, frankly, didn’t get it quite right. The timeline you’re about to see references everything from the Community Reinvestment Act, passed in 1977, to the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Freddie Gray. All caused us in some way to reexamine our work and dig deeper into the root causes of the problems we want to solve.
By looking back at Living Cities' history, maybe we can see where we as a collective and as individuals got it wrong. Maybe we can see how to correct these mistakes; center race in everything we do; and collectively envision a bright, just future.
The timeline first reflects on these stories, and then forward into the next several decades, to imagine an anti-racist America where people are economically secure, building wealth, and living abundant, dignified and connected lives. By looking back at Living Cities' history, maybe we can see where we as a collective and as individuals got it wrong. Maybe we can see how to correct these mistakes; center race in everything we do; and collectively envision a bright, just future.
We hope as you explore the timeline you’ll think about where you were in these moments, the effect these events had on you, and whether they have changed how you and your organization think about race in this country.
If you’d like to share, please tweet us @Living_Cities and let us know where you were in our movement history timeline.
Thanks to Global Action Project for their support in creating this timeline.