These entertainment companies are donating to antiracist causes. Here’s how much
Outrage over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25 has swelled into a historic multicultural movement demanding an end to police brutality, systemic racism and economic disparities for people of color.
While anchoring CNN’s live coverage of the unrest on May 30, five days after Floyd’s murder, anchor Don Lemon called out the firebrands of the entertainment industry for sitting on the sidelines in those early days; the same weekend saw a wave of solidarity messages from some of the biggest brand names in the business.
In the days since, major entertainment companies have gone from sharing messages of support for Black Lives Matter on social media to pledging support for organizations dedicated to social justice. In addition to those listed below, we will continue updating this story with contributions as they are announced.
Entertainment companies and other brands have tried to show their support for protesters. But some have faced a backlash.
Bad Robot: $10 million over five years
On June 1, Bad Robot, the production company owned by director J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, announced on Instagram that it would partner with the Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation to provide $10 million in donations over five years. The money will be steered to companies with “antiracist agendas that close the gaps, lift the poor and build a just America for all,” Bad Robot said.
“Corporate and private philanthropy can never achieve the impact needed to address these systemic inequities, but companies and individuals who are able must do what we can until our political leaders lead,” the company wrote in its Instagram post.
The company said initial contributions of $200,000 each went to Black Futures Lab, Black Lives Matter, Community Coalition of South L.A. and Equal Justice Initiative, among others.
Warner Music Group and the Blavatnik Family Foundation: $100 million
On June 3, Warner Music Group and the Blavatnik Family Foundation said the two entities would establish a $100 million fund to “support charitable causes related to the music industry, social justice and campaigns against violence and racism.”
The New York-based company, along with representatives of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, pledged to identify and support organizations dedicated to education, equality, diversity and inclusion. Blavatnik controls Warner Music. The record company’s artists include Lizzo, Cardi B, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars.
“This fund will support the extraordinary, dedicated organizations that are on the front lines of the fight against racism and injustice, and that help those in need across the music industry,” Warner Music Chief Executive Steve Cooper said. “We’re determined to contribute, on a sustained long-term basis, to the effort to bring about real change.”
Walt Disney Co.: $5 million
On June 3, Disney pledged $5 million to support nonprofits that work to advance racial equality, beginning with a $2 million donation to the NAACP “to further their longstanding work promoting social justice by eliminating disparities and racial discrimination,” the Burbank-based company said in a statement.
“The killing of George Floyd has forced our nation to once again confront the long history of injustice that Black people in America have suffered, and it is critical that we stand together, speak out and do everything in our power to ensure that acts of racism and violence are never tolerated,” Bob Chapek, Disney’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.
“This $5 million pledge will continue to support the efforts of nonprofit organizations such as the NAACP that have worked tirelessly to ensure equality and justice,” Chapek said. The company also said it would match employees’ contributions to eligible organizations.
Amazon: $11 million
On June 3, the online giant said it would donate $10 million to several organizations, including Black Lives Matter, the ACLU Foundation, the NAACP, the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Urban League. Later, it said it would match 100% of employee donations to those groups, up to $10,000 per employee.
In addition, Amazon Studios in Culver City has pledged $1 million to support Black and Latino businesses in Greater Los Angeles, working with the Amazon Black Employee Network’s Los Angeles chapter to help identify those businesses.
The banner at the top of the Amazon.com home page, known as the “Gateway,” and the main page for its Prime Video business now reads: “Black Lives Matter.” Executives said those pages are viewed by millions of people each day, making it among the most valuable real estate on the web.
“Black lives matter. We stand in solidarity with our Black employees, customers, and partners, and are committed to helping build a country and a world where everyone can live with dignity and free from fear,” the company said in a blog post.
The Louisiana native, who joined CNN in 2006 and is the only Black cable news anchor in prime time, is clearly energized by having a role in shaping the current national discourse on race relations.
Universal Music Group: $25 million
On June 4, the world’s largest recording company, Universal Music Group, announced an initial response that includes a $25 million “change fund” and established a task force to accelerate the company’s efforts in inclusion and social justice.
The Santa Monica-based record label, whose artists include Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Kanye West, the Weeknd, Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish, said it would help support organizations that focus on economic empowerment and business development; housing; legal services, physical and mental health services; legislative reform; voting resources; and education.
“The problems we are addressing are not new, and they certainly do not have easy solutions, but we are dedicated to fighting for real, lasting change,” Universal Music general counsel Jeff Harleston and Motown Records President Ethiopia Habtemariam said Thursday in a joint statement that announced the company’s various initiatives.
Sony Music Group, Sony Corp. and Sony Pictures Entertainment: $100 million
The New York-based record label, whose artists include Beyoncé, Adele, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Khalid and Alicia Keys, did not mention any specific groups that it planned to support. The fund includes contributions from sister division Sony Pictures Entertainment, based in Culver City, and the parent company in Japan.
“Racial injustice is a global issue that affects our artists, songwriters, our people and of course society at large,” Sony Music Chairman Rob Stringer said in the statement. “We stand against discrimination everywhere, and we will take action accordingly with our community fully involved in effectively using these funds.”
ViacomCBS: $5 million
On June 5, ViacomCBS pledged $5 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Equal Justice Initiative, Amnesty International, National Bail Out, The Bail Project, Community Coalition and others in “support of their tireless work to ensure equality and justice.” The company said it regularly donates to groups that support communities of color, including $12 million in the last two years. But the George Floyd protests prompted the company — which owns MTV, CBS, BET, Comedy Central, Showtime and Paramount Pictures — to do more.
“The past few weeks have raised to the surface the longstanding pain of racism and inequality that so many people in our communities endure each day,” ViacomCBS Chief Executive Bob Bakish wrote in a note to employees. “The fact is the world has missed the mark on fighting for social justice and equality and we need to do more, now.”
The company has a handful of resource groups to support women, people of color and other underrepresented groups. It said unconscious bias and inclusive leadership training would continue companywide, and it plans a “Virtual Community Day” on June 18 to “allow us to come together across ViacomCBS to make an impact in this time of need.”
Comcast Corp.: $100 million over three years
On June 8, Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts announced the company, which includes NBCUniversal and Sky in Europe, would give $100 million — $75 million in cash and $25 million in ad time — to groups that fight injustice and inequality “against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability.”
The National Urban League, the Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP and the Community Justice Action Fund are among the groups the Philadelphia cable giant plans to support.
“While we recognize we don’t have all the answers, we agree it’s time that we start putting our words into real, sustainable action,” Brian Roberts, Comcast chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. “Our company will try to play an integral role in driving lasting reform.”
The company said it will step up educational efforts for its workforce and “put the full weight of our company’s media resources behind highlighting Black voices and Black stories and educating our viewers on diverse and inclusive cultures, perspectives and experiences.” In addition, Comcast pledged to increase its commitment to providing low-cost internet to under-served communities.
Charter Communications: $10 million
On June 11, Charter Communications, which provides Spectrum internet and TV service, said it would invest $10 million in partnership with the National Urban League and National Action Network. The goal is to support small businesses owned by Black people and other people of color in under-served communities with grants and low-interest loans.
The Stamford, Conn.-based cable giant’s donations include $3.5 million in public service announcements for the National Urban League and others to promote awareness about their low-interest loan and other programs. In February, Charter launched its loan fund commitments to support communities in its 41-state service area, which includes California.
“In all communities, small business ownership and growth are fundamental to developing and sustaining economic power, which is critical to their long-term success,” Tom Rutledge, Charter’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Building on our valued partnerships with the National Urban League and National Action Network, these investments will support small diverse-owned businesses through access to much-needed low-interest capital and help build thriving communities across the country.”
Netflix: Up to $100-million allocation of its cash holdings
Netflix said it is allocating 2% of its cash holdings, initially up to $100 million, for financial institutions and groups that support Black communities. The company’s first commitments are $25 million into a fund managed by New York nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corp. and $10 million to Jackson, Miss.-based Hope Credit Union.
Racism creates unequal economic opportunities, Netflix’s CFO Spencer Neumann said in an interview.
“Capital isolation is pretty dramatic and it’s pretty amazing how woefully under-capitalized these financial institutions are,” Neumann said. “As we got to understand that better, we wanted to channel that understanding into action.”
Netflix has also committed $5 million to support Black creators, Black youth and Black-owned businesses.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, philanthropist Patty Quillin, donated $40 million each to the Washington D.C.-based United Negro College Fund, Spelman College and Morehouse College in Atlanta. The donation is the largest individual gift for scholarships at historically black colleges and universities.
“HBCUs have a tremendous record, yet are disadvantaged when it comes to giving,” Hastings and Quillin said in a statement. “Generally, white capital flows to predominantly white institutions, perpetuating capital isolation. We hope this additional $120 million donation will help more black students follow their dreams and also encourage more people to support these institutions—helping to reverse generations of inequity in our country.”
Staff writer Wendy Lee contributed to this report.