Cynthia McKinney Challenges Gates Foundation Over African American Heritage


SEATTLE, WA — On Monday, October 27th, during her recent visit to Seattle, Green Party 2008 Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney made an unannounced visit to the Gates Foundation. Accompanied by a few Power To The People Campaign supporters, plus Seattle Central Community College Black Student Union President Geneiva Arunga and Umojafest Peace Center Founder Wyking Garrett, McKinney arrived at Gates Foundation headquarters to hand-deliver the following letter to CEO Jeff Raikes. A video clip of this event should be available at http://freshfig.com/n5p/cmckinney_gfdn.html
by or before 2pm on Tuesday, November 4 (contact me at pwolf@mckinney08news.com regarding any technical difficulties).

Jeff Raikes
Chief Executive Officer
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
PO Box 23350
Seattle, WA 98102

Dear Mr. Raikes:

I am contacting you regarding the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation involvement in the African American Heritage Museum & Cultural Center under the auspices of the Northwest African American Museum and Urban League Village. I have recently joined the National Campaign to bring justice to the African American Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington, a project in which the Gates Foundation and William Gates, Sr. have been intricately involved, in ways that amount to marginalization and disenfranchisement of Seattle’s African American community.

As you may be aware, this has been a controversial issue in the Seattle community. The current issue of Seattle Metropolitan Magazine (October 2008) highlights some of the controversy and conflict between the interests of the African American community and the desires of Seattle’s ruling class.

In a spirit similar to Bill and Melinda Gates’ stated goals of creating the Gates Foundation to ensure that all people get an equal chance to live healthy, productive lives, the African American Heritage Museum was founded to counter the negative conditions existing in the African American community. These conditions, including disproportionate levels of broken homes, crime, academic failure, drugs, violence, incarceration, unemployment, and lack of economic development, are a direct result of the cultural and socio-economic damages caused by the disenfranchisement of African people from their culture, heritage and wealth known as African Holocaust, commonly referred to as the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and the institutionalized oppression of African peopled that followed.

It appears that Seattle powerbrokers were not favorable to this grassroots undertaking, preferring an entity that was not community-determined and controlled, if any institution at all. The goal of building an institution to strengthen the African community in Seattle was and is contrary to downtown’s long term goal of eliminating Seattle’s African American community. To that end, it is my understanding that Seattle’s corporate power brokers have financed and facilitated the hostile takeover of this project by the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.

The methods used to redirect this project from its origins as one that would significantly increase opportunity and equity for Seattle’s African American population have been unethical, immoral and illegal yet the project has enjoyed a stamp of approval from the Gates Foundation.

As charity is not in itself justice, I would hope that the Gates Foundation would support our community’s need and desire for a dynamic, meaningful world class cultural institution in Seattle.

It is my recommendation that you meet with this group as I think that it is most beneficial that a charity such as the Gates Foundation have a positive working relationship rather than adversarial relationship to its African American community.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter and I look forward to your response. For more information or to further discuss this matter please contact K. Wyking Garrett at 206.941.2527 or via email at Wyking@gmail.com.

Sincerely,
Cynthia A. McKinney

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