Salute to Kermit Eady and What Would Have Been the 40th Year of the Black United Fund of New York (BUFNY)

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

From approximately 1992 to 1999 I was an account executive and advocate for the Black United Fund of New York – aka, BUFNY. I was so proud to be part of an organization that helped Black people and organizations achieve their goals and dreams through the underwriting of their programs by providing the financial wherewithal necessary. Monies came from the ongoing voluntary contributions via payroll deductions from Black people all over New York, as well as parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. Where federal funds and other so called charitible organizations would routinely turn down Black led, oriented or beneficiary programs, the Black United Fund of New York – and by association, extrapolation of New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago, and other areas, made BLACK PEOPLE THEIR PRIORITY. Their motto was THE HELPING HAND THAT IS YOUR OWN.

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In 2003, then New York Prosecutor (persecutor) Elliott Spitzer, undertook to destroy this organization, and succeeded in doing so via unfounded specious allegations of misappropriations of funds, and violations of ersatz federal mandates – none of which were true, none of which were ever proven, and all were motivated to prove that he could destroy Black organizations. Why? You ask. Because the end of Black leadership and independence in New York was at hand, and Spitzer wanted to be on the side that was doing it – so he could go after the prize of becoming governor. It was at the same time that they destroyed Clara Hale's Hale House that cared for crack addicted babies; and Dorothy Pittman Hughes who had begun to build and entrepreneurial businesses across the 125th Street Corridor - but got pushed out by Spitzer who was beginning to make threatening moves on the Black community through abuse of power.
Black people lost big time when BUFNY was destroyed – not just in New York or the other cities, but across the nation – across the diaspora, when they allowed Spitzer and his negro henchmen to destroy The Black United Fund of New York. 

Every time I hear someone say they are trying to get funding for a program, a business, or an idea, I can't help but think, too bad there's no BUFNY. Every time I hear someone talk about “crowd funding,” I think about how interesting that that concept came directly from BUFNY. Every time I hear something about FDNY's (Fire Dept. of NY) Vulcan Society, of the Former Police & Transit Guardians, now known as 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, I think of their interaction with BUFNY. 

Every time I walk along Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (at 134th St.) I remember the headquarters that Kermit Eady renovated from a drug infested run down property, and transformed into a veritable mecca for Black activists, entrepreneurs, future home owners, renters, and college bound students. I remember the incubators and training programs Kermit held in the basement to help organize them and make their businesses or projects more effective. I think of the times Kermit saved homes from auction, or met with Black contractors to make sure the homes he was developing were state of the art, modern, well kept, clean, and above all, affordable. 

The benefits from BUFNY are still tangible – and thus far, no Black organization has come close to matching it without first selling their souls or autonomy. Kermit was the anti-gentrification developer. Once BUFNY was removed, Harlem fell prey to rampant gentrification, with more and more homes going out of the hands of the original Harlemites and into the hands of interlopers – who have pushed many of Harlem's and Brooklyn's Black residents out of the community. And the sad part is that you never said a mumbling word. You never stood up for him. Elected officials ducked and ran, hiding because of fear of Spitzer. People in high/low places let it happen without so much as a picket or protest. 
Now, I'm not saying no one protested, or stood up for Kermit – there certainly were those who came to the fore, including CEMOTAP and brother James McIntosh certainly did; several members of the original board did, of course, we ,who were part of BUFNY did – but those who had actually benefitted from all that BUFNY had done did not. Over the past 25 years from 1979 to 2003 – just weeks before what was to have been the triumphant celebration of their 25th Anniversary, they seemed to have gone deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid. SMH 
I believe that lack of action hurt Kermit more than anything Spitzer's lies, or the fact that David Paterson did nothing to reinstate him, which he could and should have done once he became governor - could have done.   I think the fact that there appeared to be no fight or stance on the part of those Black people who benefited the most from all he did, fostered or sacrificed, was a major blow to Kermit's soul. They were living in homes that were the envy of Harlem - with state of the art technology already hardwired into the system; pay rent so cheap they could actually afford to send their children to college; and receiving the financial assistance necessary to do so - but no gratitude for the brother who made it come together.

I think he probably would have continued to live in NYC had he felt he had the support of Black New Yorkers in saving and reestablishing BUFNY. But when he left, I could certainly not blame him.

Kermit Eady made his transition this year in January, 2019, in what would have been the 40th anniversary of the Black United Fund of New York. We were all in such a state of shock at his transition to the realm of Ancestor/Angel, because just a few days prior he and I were at the beginning of writing a book about BUFNY, its history, and how we can, as Black people, begin to apply the principles and methodologies to reinstate it or something better to underwrite our own autonomy and economic empowerment.  I think it's was God's way of coming full circle.

Many people are not aware of the viability of BUFNY, or were too young to have heard of it – but so much of the good they did still exists in Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens today. So I'm both paying homage to Kermit Eady and BUFNY, and giving you a historical overview and some perspective of who they/we were and what made this organization so important and relevant. I'm culling and extrapolating from archived information and documents, news clippings about the importance and significance of our modern day Marcus Garvey in the personage of the late Kermit Eady, and his devoted, if not merry, band of supporters and co-workers.
The following is an excerpt from an original brochure on The Black United Fund of New York:
Every ethnic group has a requirement to devise and/or secure the means to, not just survive, but to prosper. There is something peculiarly damaging about just "surviving” and depending on others. Life throughout the Americas - especially the United States,-from the infamous Days of The Passage - has confirmed this for the masses of people of African descent.
The 1968 “Watts Insurrection” in Los Angeles, where Black people again struggled to secure their rights as “free” people, motivated the formation of THE BROTHERHOOD CRUSADE OF LOS ANGELES - a new kind of organization that would institutionalize a self help ethic empowerment movement within the Black community. Later, in 1974, Walter Bremond and James Joseph founded The Black United Fund, “a mechanism to organize the human and financial resources of Black America...to support their own growth, development and empowerment.
In January, 1979, Kermit Eady established the Black United Fund of New York. It was an independent, philanthropic organization with a critical objective: Gain access to payroll deduction systems in the public and private sectors throughout New York State, and to further national support for the BUF Movement for Black empowerment.

BUF's operating principles were self-help, mutual aid, and volunteerism, within a new and practical philosophy of venture philanthropy.

WHY IS AN INDEPENDEND FUND NEEDED? BUF of New York represented a necessary and logical evolution of an independent philanthropic organization. Its mission was to create a supporting economic infrastructure to better support and ensure the long term survival and development of the Black community, its people and institutions; and in turn, society at large. With a source of independent funds, the mission could be pursued by BUFNY based on its visions and perspective of the development and growth needs of the Black community.
By sharing just a small portion of an approximately $55 to 60 Billion statewide economy, through contributions, the Black Community can help itself to offset the devastating impact of ongoing practices of overt and covert discrimination; lack of access to, and ownership of, capital and wealth generating resources; and a debilitating dependency on outside resources

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES: BUFNY's Strategic Objective at its inception in 1979 was to break the monopoly held by United Way within virtually every major US corporation in order to establish an independent source of funds through a broad base of employee workplace giving via payroll deduction systems. Additional revenue streams were to be derived from BUF CHEX (monthly contributions from checking accounts), direct contributions, special events, board assessments, business entrepreneurship, and ownership, or other wealth generating resources and assets.
A second objective was/is to provide financial and technical assistance to support projects and programs, which provide needed services and assistance in building a self-sufficient economic infrastructure through housing and business development. The programmatic funding (grant) areas are: Alternative Education; Health and Social Services; Social Justice and Legal Services; Arts and Culture; Housing/Land Development, and Economic Development. This was a significant departure from the traditional “Health and human welfare only services that garnered the overwhelming proportion of employee-based workplace giving dominated by the United Way and its “partners.”
WHERE DID BUFNY PARTICIPATE IN PAYROLL DEDUCTIONS? Through a combination of organized petitioning efforts of employees, including letter writing and legal action (NBUF vs U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 1980) BUFNY participated in payroll deduction systems at the following companies: AT&T (now known as Verizon), Bell Atlantic, Lucent Technologies, IBM, City University of New York (CUNY), NYCTA, MTA, City of New York {also called the Combined Municipal Campaign}; State of New York (State Employee Federated Appeal), U.S. Federal Government agencies in New York State (Combined Federal Campaign), Queens and New York City Public Library Systems, Health & Hospitals Corporation, New York City Housing Authority, New York/New Jersey Port Authority, Tri-Borough Bridge & Tunnel Authority, Westchester County and Nassau County (both until 2003).
BUFNY had gained access to Black Social Workers Day Care Center, Bronx Lebanon and North General Hospitals, Carver Federal Savings Bank, City of Mount Vernon, Consumers Union, Edwin Gould Children Services, Greater Harlem Nursing Home, Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, and Miracle Makers (adoption agency). 
*There is an ongoing effort to pursue open or equitable access to other major corporations and voluntary hospitals. To date, executive management in the private sector has consistently denied access to BUFNY participate (independent of United Way), including those now headed by Black CEOs; however, voluntary contributions were being received from employees that have designated BUFNY as their charity of choice in campaigns such as Chase Bank, Microsoft, Pfizer, and others -even some United Ways. (However, BUFNY never requested or received any funding from United Way.)  NOTE: At the time the brochure was originally written, there was a major battle going on in the Black community to try and block the Black United Fund from having the right to have their own fundraising campaigns specifically for the needs of Black people. There were several so called Black leaders who were instrumental in trying to block their existence as well. It is to be noted that, were it not for Kermit Eady's pugnacious nature, they probably would have succeeded – but his love for and dedication to Black people caused him to go toe to toe and head to head against many we would consider political leaders.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? A very significant challenge remains in the public and private sectos to gain equal access to “voluntary employee payroll deductions.” There appears to be a “fortified” wall erected by corporate America that, together with the United Way, is facilitating the monopolizing of a lucrative and cost effective market - i.e., individual charitable giving at the workplace. There are serious challenges that remain in the public sector that continue to be under underutilized, and in many locations, totally untapped. There are questions to be addressed: Is it Anti-trust, or First and Fifth Amendment violations, or both, that deny access? Who decides who participates in those markets? What are the inherent rights of public and private sector employees, corporations and public agencies regarding payroll deductions for charitable and voluntary community investment purposes?
BUFNY was a New York State-chartered 501 [c] [3] organization that was founded in 1979 by Kermit Eady, as a mechanism to organize the human and financial resources of Black and minority communities to support their growth, development and empowerment; and, in turn, society at large. BUFNY's basic operating principles of self-help, mutual aid, and volunteerism form the cornerstones of the Black United Fund Movement. In the past 24 years, the fund has contributed over $15 million in grants, technical assistance and program services to community programs and projects throughout New York State. BUFNY has also developed over $40 million in affordable housing. Currently, BUFNY owns and manages over 400 units of housing, and has developed two high-end technical centers, providing copies, computers and communications, in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan.
According to Kermit Eady, at the time of Spitzer's allegations against the organization, BUFNY had raise approximately over $111 Million dollars in funds, developed over 400 hundred homes, helped start 30 Black owned and run businesses, given out at least 1,000 scholarships, and that was just for starters. There were so many more wonderful things that Kermit had begun that were of major benefit to Black people – his first, and probably his only love. Listed below are just some of them (and remember, this was in 2003, well ahead of his time.  Just imagine what we would have had had BUFNY continued to be viable and flourish).
 The development of a new kind of non-Profit
Non-Profit Pioneering and Innovation 
Housing and Land Development via BUFNY :  400 homes in Manhattan, Brooklyn & the Bronx
Expansion and Development of New Headquarters - with state of the art equipment, open to the community
Development of Affordable Housing in Prime Territory rental rates were well below those of overpriced NYC rents
Saving Black owned homes and Land in South Carolina from bogus Tax Auctions - paid all the taxes in full
Embracing New Technology,
Technology Ventures
Harvest Tech Centers Harlem and Brooklyn
BUFNY II and King Davis Apts. equipped with fiber optics projects from  Verizon/Alcatel
Collaboration with CCNY telecommunication project
Computer training facility at King Davis Apts - so that residents could become computer literate
Business Incubator Concept - so Black residents could start and succeed in their own businesses
Black business generator - providing leads to opportunities for business ventures for African Americans
Business PRI Partnerships
 Harvest Franchising
BUFNY Credit Card with People’s Bank - Debit and Credit Card privileges
FED/EX and Harvest Tech Center
Commercial space usage and tenants rentals
Arts and culture ventures
BUFNY International Support (Haiti Support Project)
Organization of Human, Financial and Cultural Resources
WCKL Radio and Mass Communications: Kermit purchased the radio station to continuously broadcast info relevant to Black people.  There are over archived 200 shows.
And that's only half the list of this visionary and his accomplishments.  
We are in the midst of completing Kermit Eady's mission of writing a book about BUFNY it's trials and triumphs - in hopes that it will inspire and instruct Black people and organizations in the means by which we can empower ourselves and move forward in spite of what is happening politically or economically around us.  I think he's smiling down on us as we attempt to go through millions of pages of information that has been garnered over 25 years of the existence of the Black United Fund of New York.
I just wanted to take some time out to pay honor to a brother who let nothing stand in his way of doing his best for Black people - as well as a salute to Jacqlyn Durant and Larry Barton, who were right there with him through it all from the inception and have remained so even after his transition.  These are unsung heroes who made the impossible possible.
God Bless the memory and legacy of Kermit Eady and the Black United Fund of New York: