Ivanhoe Donaldson

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Ivanhoe Donaldson was an active member of the SNCC and is now a businessman and political consultant.


Donaldson worked for SNCC as an organizer and held leadership positions within the organization. In 1960-62, as a SNCC field secretary, Donaldson collected food in Michigan and Kentucky and brought it to Mississippi to help sharecroppers and tenant farmers who had been kicked off of their land for attempting to register to vote. In 1963 he was active in demonstrations in Danville, Virginia, and later during "Freedom Summer" in Mississippi in 1964. After the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) began planning a march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965, Donaldson became one of the SNCC organizers in Selma[1].

SNCC comrades

In December 1963 Gloria Richardson attended a national meeting of SNCC leaders in Atlanta, where they discussed the future direction of the organization. Present were Bob Moses, Charles Sherrod, Frank Smith, John Lewis, Courtland Cox, Mike Thelwell, Stokely Carmichael, James Forman, Dottie Zellner, Ivanhoe Donaldson, Marion Barry, and Joyce Ladner, as well as staff and volunteers. Ella Baker and Howard Zinn led questioning to help the mostly young leaders work toward their vision for activism. In Atlanta they discussed and planned for an extended voting rights program to be conducted in the South the next year, an election year.[2]


In 1968, Donaldson helped found Afro-American Resources, Inc., which ran the Drum and Spear Bookstore, Drum and Spear Press, and the Center for Black Education in Washington, D.C. He was also a visiting lecturer for Afro-American courses at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1970[3].

Power behind the throne

Ivanhoe Donaldson was Washington DC mayor Marion Barry's most trusted aide. Donaldson, who masterminded Barry's two election drives, was the heart and soul of Barry's administration. He was the "hands-on man' in charge of the actual operation of the government while Barry took the ceremonial role of mayor[4] .


In January 1986, Donaldson pleaded guilty to stealing $200,000 from the city (although federal investigators said the total may have been as high as $1 million), obstructing justice by trying to convince four people to submit false affidavits to D.C. inspectors, and income tax evasion. He took money from a special fund that was supposed to help distribute unemployment benefits. He used city funds to have his Mercedes Benz repaired, double-billed the city for a poll, and shifted $6,500 to his unemployed aunt, ostensibly for a study of New York's unemployment system. More recently, his name has come up in connection with scandals in New York and Chicago involving payoffs to parking meter collection companies[5].

IPS connection

In 1979 Ivanhoe Donaldson, General Assistant to the Mayor, Washington, DC served on the steering committee of the Institute for Policy Studies initiated Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policies.[6]

In 1993 Ivanhoe Donaldson was listed among "former fellows, project co-ordinators and staff" of the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington DC.[7]

Chicago Area Friends of SNCC

In 2005 Chicago Area Friends of SNCC organized the "Tell the Story: The Chicago SNCC History Project, 1960-1965" Chicago Area Friends of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Chicago Civil Rights Movement, c. 1960-1965. The event was held October 21-22, 2005 Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois.

Members of the advisory committee included Ivanhoe Donaldson.[8]


  1. http://lannan.georgetown.edu/bioarchive/bio20072008/donaldson.html
  2. [Ransby, Barbara (2003). Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9780807862704.]
  3. http://lannan.georgetown.edu/bioarchive/bio20072008/donaldson.html
  4. Washington Monthly, July-August, 1986 by Chuck Stone
  5. Washington Monthly, July-August, 1986 by Chuck Stone
  6. Information Digest August 24, 1979
  7. Institute for Policy Studies 30th Anniversary brochure
  8. http://www.ben.edu/programs/cafsncc/