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An Introduction To Rodney Sumler Day: Economic, Environmental Justice And Celebrating Organizing Action! Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

posted Mar 8, 2019, 8:42 AM by Rahni Sumler   [ updated Mar 8, 2019, 12:57 PM ]
March 13, 2015, the Mayor of Winston-Salem declared Rodney Sumler Day (RSD) an official city holiday to honor Rodney Jerome Sumler for his service to the city and for the purpose of continuing the spirit of his mission.  
You can RSVP for both the NYC event and Facebook Live event at the link below: 

Rodney Sumler: Community Activist, Social Entrepreneur

Portrait of Rodney Sumler and the logo for the Rodney Sumler Research Foundation for Economic Empowerment and Environmental Protection
The term "social entrepreneur" was coined in the early 2000s. However, Rodney Sumler had been displaying qualities of social entrepreneurship since beginning his consulting agency, AC Consulting, in the 1970s. His paper, the AC Phoenix Newspaper, served communities in North Carolina for over 30 years. It provided many opportunities for small business and even for community members to become more civically engaged. For some members, Civic Engagement turned into Civic Service. The AC Phoenix News was sited for sending many Congresspeople of color to Federal, and NC State capitals. 
March 13, 2019, we will hold both a physical event in Black National Theater in Harlem and a Facebook live event achieve these goals: 
  1. Make people aware of the Rodney Sumler Research Foundation(RSRF), founded to continue the work of Rodney Sumler,  and what we do 
  2. Give people ways to contribute to the RSRF
  3. Build relationships for our programs- potential scholars, expedition fellows, and advisory board members 
  4. Celebrate the digital archiving of the Rodney Sumler’s community newspaper: the AC Phoenix News 
  5. Highlight the importance of preserving our community through digitally archiving our work 

Who was Rodney Sumler?

Rodney Sumler was a Civil Rights leader who, in the 1960’s, organized demonstrations with the now Rev. Jessie Jackson while they were attending their Alma Mater: North Carolina A&T State University.
For the next 40 years, Rodney Sumler remained dedicated to the betterment of people of color. As an entrepreneur, he was well known and provided meeting spaces for community leaders to discuss ways to uplift their community in the 1970's.

For over 30 years, he helped maintain diversity of representation in our nation’s capital as the Head Editor of the AC Phoenix News, providing a medium for community members to learn about their representatives.  His final project was combating forces of environmental injustice afflicting a poor community of color in Eden, North Carolina.

Continuing the Legacy: Rodney Sumler Research Foundation

Rodney Sumler Research Foundation for Economic Empowerment and Environmental Protection was founded on November 2017. The foundation was formed and supported by the family to continue the work of Rodney Sumler. The mission of the foundation is to rewrite negative cultural narratives for people of color through education, research, and development.
To serve this mission, the goal of the foundation is to connect researchers and activists to pursue research driven community development. After all, rewriting negative cultural narratives requires the truth to be revealed. The truth is best unearthed and respected through rigorous research. 

In pursuit of this mission, currently overseeing the creation and implementation of these programs:

  • Social Research Expeditions that sponsor researchers in the field
  • Scholars in Residence that serves to incubate journalists, scholars, and activists focused on uplifting under served communities through research

Successful Past Project: Digitizing the AC Phoenix Newspaper

Digitization of community newspapers preserves them and makes them more searchable. This can be used to build the community: overcoming challenges by having a record of what worked in the past. 

The AC Phoenix News was started by Rodney Sumler as the head editor in 1983, serving the community for over 30 years until his passing.  It empowered many voices of the community, small businesses and served as an economic boon for the Piedmont Triad. It was also the spiritual predecessor of the Rodney Sumler Research Foundation's blog, the AC Pharos. 

Scans of the newspaper are currently hosted for view via web at DigitalNC for everyone to see. 
This project is technically on going, as the public can continue to send in their back issues of the AC Phoenix News to the Bluford Library at North Carolina A&T State University, Rodney Sumler's Alma Mater.
If you have old copies of the AC Pheonix News, contact us here also send the papers to this physical address:
Re: AC Phoenix Newspaper Collection
F. D. Bluford Library Archives
North Carolina A&T State University
1601 East Market Street 
Greensboro, NC 27411

Digitization makes the Voice of the Community more Accessible for Everyone

The AC Phoenix News employed a number of authors from the community, who gave community insights, impacts from past political campaigns, and  cultural events. Not only does this preserve the history of the community, it will also make it searchable. Digitizing community newspapers provides data that can be used to gain valuable insights on the community. This data can be further used to build the community: overcoming challenges by having a record of what worked in the past.

Digitizing the community paper provides sources for community insights. This means that we can contribute information to reference websites like Wikipedia or even, making the voices from the community more accessible for everyone. 

There are plans to continue the AC Phoenix News as a community publication, but we also need help from the community.

How to Contribute to the Rodney Sumler Research Foundation

Rodney Sumler was first and foremost a businessman, who believed in the power of small business to foster self reliant communities. In that spirit, our outreach is focused on connecting the business owners, activists, and local community together to network on how to build a greater world.

Donate to our Current Project: $83K Campaign to Continue the AC Phoenix Newspaper

As the media landscape changes and evolves, the AC Phoenix Newspaper had continued to serve the community unhindered until Rodney Sumler's passing in 2015. His last issue on February 2015 was enjoyed by many community members in churches, on the PART Transit, on NC A&T Campus, and many other community institutions. Many advertisers were prepared to continue to work with the newspaper as well. 
This campaign will cover final costs, pay staff, and continue distribution. Continuing the newspaper will continue recording voices around the triad. 
We plan to make headlining articles from the AC Phoenix News available here at AC Pharos, alongside community insights and published data from the Rodney Sumler Research Foundation. 

Sponsorships: Reoccurring Donations

Rodney Sumler was first and foremost a businessman, who believed in the power of small business to foster self reliant communities. In that spirit, our outreach is focused on connecting the business owners, activists, and local community together to network on how to build a greater world. This is why our sponsorship packages are geared towards the entrepreneurial individual starting out to the established business seeking tax deductible services.

Benefits of this package include: 







# of Packages Available: 50


# of Packages Available: 20


# of Packages Available: 10

Banner on Website and Mention in Event Program

Reserved Tickets to the Benefit




Consulting Services:

Technical Writing


Web Content Development (Including Blogging)

Writing Coaching


(2 hours)

(4 hours)

  • Higher visibility for yourself and your Business: by having your banner on our website and a mention in our event program
  • Reserved tickets to our March event celebrating Rodney Sumler Day (as well as any Foundation event of your choosing): Reserved seats to network with other potential partners and/or clients
  • A series of complimentary consulting services from professional consultants that will benefit the growth and prosperity of your organization. These services include:
    • Writing Services (Web content and Technical)
    • Research Consulting
    • Writing coaching
  • All of these services are meant to be mutually beneficial: Allows your company access to otherwise expensive services and networking opportunities, while being able to fund a burgeoning non-profit
  • All proceeds to the sponsorship packages are tax deductible: This means that money spent on the foundation goes directly back into your business

Join our Advisory Board

A challenge as large as building our communities cannot be done alone. Creating more opportunities for everyone requires participation from everyone. The Rodney Sumler Research Foundation seeks professionals, activists, researchers, and any one else with insights in environmental as well as economic justice to join our board. 
For those with seasoned non-profit experience: Joining the board will allow you access to the ground level of a new organization, having a large impact on decisions that steer the course. 
For those looking for experience in social impact and nonprofits: Joining the board will allow you to gain more experience. 

For those interested in social and community based enterprises: Members of the advisory board are also free to list their businesses and "side enterprises" as sponsors to the Rodney Sumler Research Foundation. You will also have the opportunity to volunteer in-kind services to our donors: fellow small business owners in the community. 

Providing in-kind services are already common place for many community entrepreneurs as a way to build networks. Joining the Advisory Board will allow seasoned entrepreneurs to naturally build these inroads while writing off in-kind donation hours to help support your own business. For those looking to start their own enterprises, this an opportunity to practice and continue the work of bettering our communities.