Published in The Washington Post | August 30, 2016
Darren Walker: Using privilege to fight privilege
By Jonathan Capehart
Say the name Darren Walker anywhere in New York City or in the world of philanthropy, and you’re guaranteed to get one of two reactions: big smiles or expressions of awe, if not both. Walker’s reputation for hard work, bridge-building and empathy are among the many reasons his elevation three years ago to president of the Ford Foundation was greeted with universal applause.
But there’s another reason for Walker’s success. The man Time Magazine named as one of its “100 Most Influential People in the World” is unapologetically black and openly gay in a world where both identities are rare. “It’s the only way I know how to be,” Walker told me in the third episode of “Cape Up.” “It is who I am. It is my identity. It is my humanity. And I believe that each of us needs to bring all of our humanity to the table.”
Walker’s humanity and the upbringing that shaped it were unflinchingly revealed in the New Yorker profile of him and the $12 billion foundation, the nation’s second-largest philanthropy, he leads. “I embrace my past,” Walker said when I asked him about this. “I didn’t have to study the context of a low-income, rural community to know about poverty. I lived that experience.”
Listen to Darren Walker on "Cape Up" below.