YWCA Central Alabama and NCCJ Host Inaugural Race Against Racism

November 29, 2012

As a part of its mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, the YWCA Central Alabama recently partnered with the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) of Alabama to sponsor the inaugural Race Against Racism 5K as a part of The Ruben Studdard Celebration Weekend.

With over 600 participants in its first year, the race was intended to unite people of all races, demonstrate our community's commitment to eliminating racism and celebrate our diversity.

The race also doubled as a culmination for participants in Girls on the Run of Birmingham. Girls on the Run had eight teams take part in the 5K. The YWCA's Family Resource Center in Woodlawn was one of the Girls on the Run training sites and host of the YW Warriors team.

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 Anytown Alabama, the Heritage Panel program and the YWCA Stand Against Racism.

Anytown Alabama is an inclusive camp environment that provides an opportunity for high school students to develop leadership skills that they take back to their school and community. 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.

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 about ways to improve relations at school. Students prepare to sit on a panel and discuss controversial issues that are relevant to their school experience. These issues often include cliques, race, gender, cultural backgrounds. sexual orientation and exclusion. Upon the completion of the training, Heritage Panelists return to school ready to confront injustice and make their school more inclusive by facilitating Heritage Panel presentations for their fellow classmates.

Held each year in April, 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 and that it can no longer be ignored or tolerated. Next year's stand will be held Friday, April 26, 2013.

The YW would like to extend a special thank you to all of our community partners who are committed to helping us execute our mission of eliminating racism and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. 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 jWitherspoonNorris@ywcabham.org