Mutual Aid

Anthropocene Alliance Mutual Aid Fund

In Fall 2021, a group of frontline leaders from Anthropocene Alliance met to establish a Mutual Aid Fund. Thanks to their care and dedication, the fund is now launched.

The fund provides up to $2,000 in pre and post-disaster relief. The money can be used for items such as gift cards, hotel and other emergency housing, generators, drinking water, cleaning and sanitation goods, baby supplies, materials for repairs, tools, food and clothing, transportation, and medical supplies.

100% of contributions to the Mutual Aid Fund will be distributed to impacted communities. The need is great and your support is greatly appreciated!

Please visit this page to learn more about the fund and steering committee.

Top illustration:  Photographer unknown, Marian Anderson, opera singer, singing with hands clasped, and wearing a pin in the shape of the Royal Canadian Air Force pilot’s wing pin badge, (detail), 1942.

The child of working-class parents and the granddaughter of an enslaved man, Marian Anderson’s early life in Philadelphia was marked by hardship and discrimination. Despite possessing extraordinary vocal talents, she was denied a place in a local music academy due to the color of her skin.  She nevertheless persevered, and with the love and support of family, friends, her Baptist Church, and later benefactors including Julius Rosenwald and Eleanor Roosevelt, she attracted the attention of major composers, conductors, and impresarios. By the late 1930s, she was generally considered among the greatest vocalists in the world.

Nevertheless, Anderson continued to face prejudice at home. In 1939, the racist Daughters of the American Revolution denied her the opportunity to sing at Constitution Hall in segregated Washington D.C. The refusal led to mass demonstrations and the hasty organization of a triumphant recital on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before 75,000 people. That event was partially reprised 24 years later when Anderson sang on the same spot as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, best known as the civil rights rally at which Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Anderson performed an immensely moving version of the Black spiritual, “He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands.”

He’s got everybody here in His hands
He’s got you and me, brother, in His hands
He’s got you and me, sister, in His hands
He’s got everybody here in His hands
He’s got the whole world
He’s got the whole world in His hands

Though the pronoun “He” refers to God or Jesus Christ, the imagery is not so much of divine munificence as of human unity and mutual aid, conveyed by the imagery of cradling hands. That same message was reiterated a little later of course, by King when he said he dreamed that: “one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

The photo of Marian Anderson, part of the U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information collection at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., shows the singer frontally and nearly half-length, with hands clasped together, the better to sing from the chest or diaphragm. But the gesture of interlocked hands, a motif with a long history in art, was not only about vocal discipline. It also suggests prayer, hopefulness, interdependence, and mutuality. Mutual aid is not charity – the bestowal of something of value by the rich to the poor. It’s an expression of the idea, also expressed in King’s speech, that “we cannot walk alone,” and that the freedom of one is dependent upon the freedom of all. That sentiment is even more essential today as we confront a global environmental and climate crisis.

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