- Essential Common Future
Common Future CEO Rodney Foxworth reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic
ike many of you, I’ve been living in a persistent fog of anxiety, uncertainty, and discomfort over the past two years. During this time, I’ve been reminded often of a poem of great significance to me, Mother to Son by Langston Hughes. My mother read this poem to me every night as a toddler through kindergarten. You can imagine that it had a profound impact on me. I read it every now and then when the weight of all that I’m asked to carry feels unbearable. It grounds me. It reminds me of the paradoxical nature of time. The poem was published 100 years ago. Whether you’ve read it for the first time or the thousandth time, it feels like it was written yesterday.
Two years ago, all of our lives were turned upside down. I recall the moment it hit me. I had just boarded a plane heading to New Orleans so I could speak at the National Good Food Network Conference. Once I got seated, I received a phone call from a former colleague, who told me that the remaining conference was likely to be canceled, due to concerns about the spread of virus. I gathered my items and got off of the plane. The following week, or the week after, we executed our Rapid Response Grants.
To say it’s been a hard two years is an immense understatement. But we’ve also achieved a great deal of work. Despite all of the challenges we’ve experienced personally, collectively, and organizationally, we as an organization have achieved far, far more over the past two years than we did in 2018 and 2019. The Rapid Response Grants. The no-strings attached funding to Black-led organizations. Capital innovation grants. Bridge Fellows. Culture and Community Grants. Heartland Challenge. Bold Ideas and other tremendous strides made in policy engagement and advocacy. The Character-based lending pilot. Our strategic partnership with Prosperity Now, Concerned Capital, and Urban Manufacturing Alliance. Supporting sponsored projects like Potlikker Capital and Just Futures. Our various collaborations with Racial Equity Asset Lab and so much more.
Life ain’t been no crystal stair these past two years for any of us. And yet we’ve come a long way and achieved so much individually and collectively. It’s difficult to see that sometimes given all of the challenges we’ve endured. I’m proud of what we’ve managed to do. I’m humbled and grateful to be in this work.
Love and Power. — RDF