Historic Field Building. Photo courtesy of City of Chicago.
We Are Walking Skyscrapers
A Farewell Message from President Angelique Power
In a little less than a week’s time I will leave Chicago and subsequently my post as President of the mighty Field Foundation. In doing so I will leave a piece of my heart behind.
One doesn’t just live in Chicago. Regardless of whether you were born here or move here, we are all of this city. While we are told it is a city of neighborhoods, it is honestly a city of people – simultaneously down-to-earth and driven by mile-high aspirations.
Doers and dreamers, we are proud to be from not one community, but many overlapping communities. We are House music, and machine politics, block parties and syncopated sounds rising from buckets at every corner. We are walking skyscrapers and powerful Lake Michigan waves.
I carry this with me.
A piece of my heart will always beat to the sounds of conversations floating between the colorful couches and vibrant plants within FBRK Impact House. Alive with possibility of collaboration at every turn – near the podcast room, and by the kitchens, beside the prayer room or by the downstairs bar. I am so honored to have been part of conceptualizing this space for many to dream and do great things together.
Much of my heart will always ride with the members of the Field Foundation board. Bold and forthcoming. Dedicated to not just hoping that the arc of history bends toward justice but busily grabbing and shaping that arc on the daily – from every perch they occupy personally and professionally. These are the giants whose dedication to changing the world is made manifest every time they enter a room.
The staff. Man oh man the staff. These stellar humans won’t be able to get rid of me. Their brilliance, candor, passion and love; it has fed and fortified me. It has been the greatest honor to walk with them and learn from them. Their work is your work, their voice, lifting your voice. They have changed the idea of what it means to practice justice, what defines artists and the arts, what leadership looks like and who can own narratives that shape our understanding of what actually is and what actually might be.
And deeply, deeply I will miss all of you. Everyday I’ve been at Field, I’ve learned from you and with you. I feel honored to have been able to get up to so much together. The work we’ve collectively done to ground philanthropy in racial justice is only just beginning. The organizers, artists, journalists and storytellers – you are the visionaries and bright lights. You are the hope for a new Chicago. You are the ones that will continue to hold us all to account.
It is truly because of my time at Field, deepening my practice with board, staff, each of you that I am taking this leap into what awaits me. This year of sitting still and being rooted in self has left us all asking what we can do with this one beautiful and complicated life. How do we make meaning? For those who do not know, I will soon join the incredible Skillman Foundation, based in Detroit and dedicated to children and youth. It has long been working on racial justice issues and on unlocking equity for young people in education systems and beyond.
Now, Detroiters don’t play. It is a Black and Brown city. It is a young city (median age is 34). They have been hard at work for some time on creating an equitable city that works for everyone. Skillman’s work is a model for how you live in the interstitial spaces between sectors, center youth voice and create massive change. And in this moment, after a year of uprisings led by young Black and Brown people, the opportunity to join this work in that city calls me in ways I can explain and in ways I cannot yet. Walking out on faith, I am heading into this new electric space ready to listen, learn and stretch into what awaits.
In the meantime, the Field Foundation and Chicago is teeming with true believers. Believers not in what is, but in what might be. My heart has expanded with all of you. My heart carries each of you.
Thanks for helping me grow and deepen my knowledge of myself. Thank you for making me smarter. Thank you for letting me take risks and be forthright in what is right and where I go wrong. All of the work only deepens after I leave.
Our work is rooted in the soil – and as the world opens up again, so do we, so do we.
With love and gratitude,