Person

Makani Themba

Location:

Jackson, Mississippi

Occupation:

Political Activist and Consultant

Makani Themba is a left-of-center political and social activist based in Jackson, Mississippi who currently operates a left-of-center consultancy called Higher Ground Change Strategies. Themba previously was the founding executive director of The Praxis Project, a left-of-center nonprofit focused on public health issues. She has worked with and received grants from many notable left-leaning funding organizations including the Ford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations. [1]

Along with Monifa Bandele, Themba was named as an interim co-executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, a funding collective for the Black Lives Matter movement that has been plagued by financial reporting controversies. In early 2022, it was reported that despite the announcement, Themba and Bandele never started working at the organization, leaving questions about who was running it. Reports also stated that the organization had not filed IRS returns that would publicly disclose certain facts about how the $60 million in donations that it had raised in late 2020 were used. [2] [3]

Background

Makani Themba attended the University of California, Irvine, and the University of California, Los Angeles. She worked as an associate director at the Marin Institute and a program director at the Applied Research Center until she founded the Praxis Project in 2002. [4]

Themba ran The Praxis Project, a left-of-center advocacy and organizing group, from 2002 to 2015. The organization raised more than $20 million from many notable left-of-center foundations under her leadership. Initiatives Themba created included Communities Creating Healthy Environments (C-CHE), which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support policy advocacy around food and nutrition issues in Black communities. Another project was Building Capacity Building Power, which was funded by the Ford Foundation to support grassroots lobbying and advocacy to restrict the use of tobacco products. [5] [6]

In 2015, Themba founded her own consulting firm, Higher Ground Change Strategies, which she describes as providing social justice and race-related trainings to companies, government agencies, and nonprofits. Clients of the organization are unknown, but the firm’s website features testimonials from the Berkeley Media Studies Group and the Advancement Project. [7] [8]

In February 2022, Themba was one of 12 Black activists who received a $150,000 grant from the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations to provide financial support to community activists and support their organizing efforts. [9]

Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation

In May 2021, Makani Themba was announced as having been selected along with Monifa Bandele as an interim co-executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, a funding collective for the Black Lives Matter movement that has been plagued by financial controversies, at various times being marked as delinquent in several state corporate filings. Themba and Bandele were selected to lead the organization after Patrisse Cullors stepped down from her leadership role amid scrutiny of her $3 million in property purchases. [10] [11]

In early 2022, it was reported that Themba and Bandele never began their roles at the organization. They later released a statement that they “were not able to come to an agreement with the acting Leadership Council about our scope and work authority,” leaving open who was in charge of the organization. Themba further stated that she had never started in the position, so she did not have any information as to its current leadership. [12] [13]

References

  1. “Leadership.” Higher Ground Change Strategies. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://highergroundstrategies.net/leadership/ ^
  2. Editorial. “The Black Lives Matter Scam.” Washington Examiner. January 31, 2022. Accessed February 20, 2022.  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/restoring-america/equality-not-elitism/the-black-lives-matter-scam ^
  3. Kerr, Andrew. “BLM accounting gimmick further delays disclosure of its $60M bankroll.” Washington Examiner. February 16, 2022. Accessed February 20, 2022.  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/blm-accounting-gimmick-further-delays-disclosure-of-its-60m-bankroll ^
  4. “Makani Themba.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/makani-themba-9306323/ ^
  5. “Leadership.” Higher Ground Change Strategies. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://highergroundstrategies.net/leadership/ ^
  6. “Makani Themba.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/makani-themba-9306323/ ^
  7. “Testimonials.” Higher Ground Change Strategies. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://highergroundstrategies.net/about-us/testimonials/ ^
  8. “Makani Themba.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/makani-themba-9306323/ ^
  9. Felton, Emmanuel. “Open Society Foundations announces grants to help Black activists make their work more sustainable.” Washington Post. February 4, 2022. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/02/04/open-society-foundations-activists-grants/ ^
  10. Editorial. “The Black Lives Matter Scam.” Washington Examiner. January 31, 2022. Accessed February 20, 2022.  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/restoring-america/equality-not-elitism/the-black-lives-matter-scam ^
  11. Kerr, Andrew. “BLM accounting gimmick further delays disclosure of its $60M bankroll.” Washington Examiner. February 16, 2022. Accessed February 20, 2022.  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/blm-accounting-gimmick-further-delays-disclosure-of-its-60m-bankroll ^
  12. Editorial. “The Black Lives Matter Scam.” Washington Examiner. January 31, 2022. Accessed February 20, 2022.  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/restoring-america/equality-not-elitism/the-black-lives-matter-scam ^
  13. Kerr, Andrew. “BLM accounting gimmick further delays disclosure of its $60M bankroll.” Washington Examiner. February 16, 2022. Accessed February 20, 2022.  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/blm-accounting-gimmick-further-delays-disclosure-of-its-60m-bankroll ^
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