Many are familiar with Whitney Houston’s timeless role as the fairy godmother in Cinderella. In real life, there is Simone Gordon, whose generous deeds around the world earned her the moniker Black Fairy Godmother, which spawned her award-winning nonprofit foundation of the same name. The New Jersey-based organization is holding its 3rd annual Purple Diamond Awards on November 5 at the Newark Museum of Art, which will honor 8 individuals making a difference in the community. When you consider Gordon’s story and how a group of women changed her life via social media, which resulted in her doing the same and starting the Black Fairy Godmother Foundation, it is unsurprising that she would also give back to other changemakers.
“I felt like the people in the community were not getting the recognition that they deserve,” the CEO tells SBC. “I saw people who were into the church, many people who were feeding the homeless. And politicians would pass them in cars and not even shake their hand or say ‘Hey, do you need a couple dollars to continue the work that you’re doing?’ I felt like nonprofits and activists, they are not getting recognition.
So, I said, ‘You know what? We are getting everybody awards for just having the silly memes on social media or we’re giving people awards just for being entertainer of the year. So, let’s do an award show for activists and nonprofit organizations for doing the work, who don’t get salary, who are just normal people like us, who wanna feel appreciated.’”
Legendary American rapper and actress Yo-Yo will host the ceremony and Grammy nominee singer-songwriter Kenny Lattimore and Grammy winning singer/songwriter/producer Jeff Redd are tapped to perform. The honorees include Mayor Ras Baraka, Angelo Ellerbee, Jenise JT Fountain, the Shaka Zulu Party (Newark New Jersey Chapter), Kate Barnhart (New Alternative LGBT Homeless Resource Center), Isaiah House, Growing 4Ward organization, and the late former councilwoman Mary E. Patterson.
Imagine being a twenty-something domestic abuse survivor, single parent to a young child who also happens to have non-verbal autism, recently laid off, and owing college tuition. Gordon reached out to agencies for support but was failed. One can lean on family and friends for so long–and as Gordon puts it, she was responsible for herself and her son. Her frustrations led to her venting on Meta, formerly Facebook. From there, an abundance of love and support followed. Much like her own experience, when there is someone in need, people do not hesitate to contact Gordon and her team who share the information online so donations can be made.
During quarantine, the Webby Awards, which honors excellence on the Internet, awarded Gordon for her humanitarian work for women of color during COVID-19. To date, she has partnered with the likes of InstaCart, Angel Food Assistance Fund, the Domestic Violence Fund, and the Adopt-A-Family program. She also recently launched the Fairy Dust Scholarship, which helps underprivileged mothers access their education of choice.
Check out the conversation to learn more about Gordon including an update on her motherhood journey, her fateful encounter with journalist and author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), the women who changed her life, the most memorable thing to have emerged from the foundation, her selection process for the Purple Diamond Award recipients, her advice on how one can make a difference, whether she thinks its possible to spread hate but also be generous, her book deal, and more! For more information, visit the official website.