Every February, we honor Black History Month in part by supporting the central role that Black communities have and continue to play in shaping the culture and history of the United States. As Washington’s leading media and technology company, we have a unique opportunity to contribute by leveraging our resources – our people, programming, and platforms – to shed light on systemic issues and work toward lasting solutions in our state.
In June 2020, we accelerated our company’s longstanding commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion with a $100 million commitment to help drive lasting reform and champion a more connected, equitable, and just world. Since then, we’ve made considerable progress towards this goal, investing in initiatives that address racial inequities, using our platforms and resources to address digital equity and education issues and disparities, and elevating Black-owned businesses.
As a part of those efforts, here in Washington we recently awarded $1 million in the form of $10,000 grants to 100 small businesses owned by people of color through the Comcast RISE program. We’ve also accelerated our work to close the digital equity gap for people of color through a partnership with the Carl Maxey Center, a non-profit organization that supports Black youth in the East Central neighborhood of Spokane.
Our first initiative in partnership with the Carl Maxey Center was a Comcast Student Tech Fund. The program funds remote learning equipment and technology to support distance learning for youth of color in Spokane. Next, Comcast, Carl Maxey Center, and the Northwest African American Museum (NAMM) partnered to raise more than $10,000 to provide books for a cultural library at the center. Comcast also provided storage for the books until they could be placed in the library after construction.
The namesake of the Carl Maxey Center is an important figure in Washington state history to celebrate during Black History Month. After graduating from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1951, Maxey began a 40-year professional career that would earn him a deserved reputation as an exceptional trial lawyer, a skilled counselor, and a civil rights leader. He opened the Fredrickson, Maxey, Bell & Allison Law Firm in 1960, and while he built a highly successful private law practice, he continued to devote around 20 percent of his time to pro bono work. He later formed Maxey Law Offices in Spokane with his sons.
During the Freedom Summer of 1964, he volunteered in Mississippi to help blacks register to vote, freed Black activists from jail, and marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In addition, Carl helped members of the NAACP, specifically handling hundreds of pro-bono cases. Five different U.S. presidents appointed him to serve as the Washington State Advisory Commission chairman to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He had a singular impact on equal rights in Spokane and throughout Washington State.
Maxey passed away in 1997. Today, his legacy lives on through his many contributions to Spokane and the state of Washington. Maxey Law Offices continue to serve clients with Carl’s sons William (’75 J.D.) and Bevan (’83 J.D.) along with grandsons Morgan (’17 J.D.) and Mason (’20 J.D.) joining the practice.
Our work with the Carl Maxey Center is ongoing, and later this year we will announce a new endeavor that leverages our financial resources and unique platforms to help create positive change in Spokane’s community of color to bring broadband and digital skills training to underserved students and their families.
Black History Month provides a unique opportunity for us to recognize iconic Black leaders who paved the way for a more just and equitable society, and we honor their legacy by providing sustained support to our Black communities. At Comcast, we promise to continue this tradition year-round as we continue to empower and support the communities we serve.