YWCA AmeriCorps Members Participate in MLK Unity Walk

January 16, 2013

While most employees look forward to a day off in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., the YWCA Central Alabama's AmeriCorps members look forward to a day ON! MLK Day is a national day of service for all members of AmeriCorps, and the YWCA's AmeriCorps members chose to further Dr. King's dream by participating in the Birmingham Metro Diversity Coalition's (BMDC) MLK Unity Walk, which was held on January 12th. Members will also be attending the MLK Unity Breakfast on January 21st in observance of the MLK holiday. 

"It was such an honor for our AmeriCorps members to participate in the MLK Unity Walk," stated Joan Witherspoon-Norris, Director of Social Justice. "Bringing individuals and families from all walks of life together for a fun event is a great way for the BMDC to commemorate the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr."

The BMDC is a nonprofit organization formed to identify and bring change to social inequalities through advocacy, collaboration and education. Each year they select a different aspect of community health to highlight. This year, the BMDC decided to honor historical accomplishments by celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 Civil Rights Act. 

The YWCA Central Alabama believes in the mission of the BMDC and is committed to fighting racism in the Birmingham area. In addition to participating in community-wide events, the YWCA offers a wide array of social justice programming to help combat the issues and "isms" that plague our community. These programs include Make A Change Leadership Institute, Anytown Alabama, the Heritage Panel program and the YWCA Stand Against Racism. 

Make A Change Leadership Institute is coming up on January 27th. About 100 high school students will come together on a Sunday afternoon to develop leadership skills while getting to know students from other schools. All high school students are welcome to register by clicking here.

Anytown Alabama is a social justice leadership camp environment that provides an opportunity for high school students to develop leadership skills and build relationships. The camp recruits student delegates from Birmingham and surrounding areas so that every race, gender, religion, school and neighborhood is represented. Delegates are encouraged to participate in honest dialogue and interactive learning about social justice issues. They learn how to respond to difficult real-life situations with kindness, courage and respect and to appreciate other cultures and beliefs while they celebrate their own. Applications are currently being accepted for camp, which will be held June 2 - 8, 2013.

The Heritage Panel program is a year-long program that takes place in individual middle and high schools. It begins by training 25 middle and high school students and five educators during an intensive two-day workshop. During the training, participants are asked to evaluate themselves and their school community and brainstorm ways to improve relations at school. Heritage Panelists return to school ready to confront injustice and make their school more inclusive by facilitating discussions with their fellow classmates. 

The YWCA Stand Against Racism is a one-day event that brings businesses, nonprofit organizations and houses of worship together to raise awareness that racism still exists in our communities. This year's stand will be held Friday, April 26, 2013.

All of our social justice programs are supported by AmeriCorps members who are made possible by a grant from ServeAlabama and the Corporation for National and Community Service. To find out more about these programs or to become involved in social justice programming, contact Joan Witherspoon-Norris at 322-9922 ext. 164. 

Dr. King once said, "Anyone can make a difference because anyone can serve." The YW would like to thank its AmeriCorps members for not only making a difference in the lives of those we serve, but for strengthening the YW's mission and vision of eliminating racism and creating more caring community. We would also like to thank Birmingham Metro Diversity Coalition for being such a great community partner.