Seven-Figure Gift From Detroit Couple Spurs Discussion of African-American Philanthropy

A seven-figure gift to the from former group vice president Roy Roberts and his wife, Maureen, has put a spotlight on the relative dearth of high-profile African-American philanthropists, and the report.

In recognition of the first seven-figure contribution to DIA by an African American, the museum will rename one of its galleries after the couple.

According to Chacona Johnson, president of the , people typically don't associate African Americans with traditional philanthropy because the bulk of African-American giving historically has supported churches; indeed, it still does. And despite efforts by a growing number of cultural institutions in Detroit and elsewhere to cultivate African-American donors, it could take a generation or more before long-established giving patterns in the African-American community begin to shift. Still, the Roberts' gift has elevated African-American philanthropy to a new level, said the DIA's Nettie Seabrooks.

Roy Roberts told the Free Press that he and his wife are optimistic their gift will broaden the vision of African-American philanthropy. "We have four kids, six grandkids," said Roberts. "When they come back twenty-five years from now, what are they going to see, and what will it say about us? [The gift is] a way for us to teach our grandkids to get the best education possible, work as hard as you possibly can, and when you get a little more than you need to take care of your family, you give back."

Mark Stryker. "." Detroit Free Press 05/04/2011. Sherri Welch. "." Crain's Detroit Business 05/08/2011.