Donor Activism,Philanthropy

Upton Sinclair Event 2021: Virtual & Powerful

May 19, 2021
By raymond

Though we could not gather in person at the annual Upton Sinclair Awards dinner this year, we found a way to come together for our very first virtual Upton Sinclair event. This year’s event theme, “The March to Progress Continues,” honored the victories we have won, points towards the work to be done, and was inspired by a former Upton Sinclair honoree, the late John Lewis. The theme was also captured in this year’s honorees, Fred Ali, CEO Emeritus of the Weingart Foundation, LaTosha Brown, Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter, and Ai-Jen Poo, Co-Founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Supermajority.

Video Premiere

Watch “The March to Progress Continues” short film featuring Eunisses Hernandez of La Defensa, Leslie Cooper Johnson of Community Coalition, and Dr. Sam Ho, a Liberty Hill Donor Activist. 

Attendees were welcomed to the event by legendary actor, activist and former Upton Sinclair honoree, the iconic Jane Fonda. Fonda set the stage for the evening by pointing to the people past and present who are making a more just future in Los Angeles a reality.

"It’s not hard to reflect on the many dedicated activists who toiled their way through history so that we could stand proudly in this moment—unafraid, undeterred and motivated to bring about the more just and equitable future we know is possible." —Jane Fonda

The audience was treated to two discussions with honorees, the first between Liberty Hill President/CEO Shane Murphy Goldsmith and honoree Fred Ali. Ali shared the perspective of a funder on the importance of working with the people “closest to the pain” to make change.

“We have to recognize that power comes from communities—it comes from the communities we work in—and that should compel everyone in philanthropy to invest in movement building and leadership development.” — Fred Ali

Shane also led a panel discussion with honorees Ai-jen Poo, LaTosha Brown, and former honoree Angélica Salas of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). The live conversation touched on their accomplishments as organizers and the ways to push our movement ahead.

“You become a better organizer when you surround yourself with the people who are directly impacted and also by the organizers who stay in this fight,” —Angélica Salas 

Ai-jen Poo told us not to look away from the pain of the inevitable defeats along the way. 

“Our job as organizers is to expand the realm of what’s possible and the heartbreak gives us new insight into how we can and must do that.” — Ai-jen Poo

And LaTosha Brown, slipping between song and speech, gave a commanding perspective on the work ahead.

“This is a moment for us to not just shield away and put another bandaid over the pain that has been systemic for centuries in this country. It’s time for us to really get to the source of it and uproot it so we can treat the real ailment of structural racism in this country.” — LaTosha Brown

The past year has been a tragic and challenging one, made harder by the limitations that prevent us from gathering in community with each other. We are so grateful for the opportunity to come together virtually this year with our incredible honorees and guests and look forward to seeing everyone in person next year!


Click here to watch the 2021 Upton Sinclair Virtual Event on Facebook!