The annual Stand Against Racism hosted by YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee took place on the steps of the Historic Metro Courthouse on April 27. More than 250 women, men and children gathered in the grass of Public Square Park and heard from female political, social, and community leaders who are leading change in Nashville and beyond. The Stand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA U.S.A. to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities. More than 200 Stand Against Racism events were held across the country between April 27–30.
“The YWCA is on a mission to eliminate racism and empower women,” said YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee President/CEO Sharon K. Roberson. “For over a century, we have worked tirelessly to keep women safe and give them opportunities to succeed. The support of our mission from the Middle Tennessee community was on display at the Stand, and we are excited about the awareness that was raised and the prospect of moving this part of our mission forward.”
The theme of the 2017 Stand Against Racism was Women of Color Leading Change. Nashville-based singer Alexandra Adukeh kicked off the program with an original and appropriate song ‘Help You Stand.’ Southern Word youth poet laureate finalist Khaya Northcross from LaVergne High School shared her original spoken word piece ‘Hidden Figures.’ Mayor Megan Barry called the Stand Against Racism a reminder that “we must all be committed to being the change in our own communities.” Mayor Barry’s remarks were followed by community activist and Valor Collegiate Academies Director of Family Engagement Kasar Abdulla.
“We must diminish the power of stereotyping and realize that for us to address all the ‘isms,’ we need to be synced with our past, grounded in our present, and always be focused on our future,” Abdulla said. “We must continue to harvest the seed of freedom, democracy, and liberation that was planted by women and conscious men before us for the generations that will come after us.”
Founding Director of Community Relations at Belmont University and past YWCA National Board Member Joyce Searcy urged the large crowd of women and men to push for power, promote public policy, and persist.
Domestic Violence Team Lead for the Davidson County District Attorney General’s Office Ana Escobar shared that women must not only mentor other women, but they must champion them so they can reach their full potential.
Civil rights attorney and advocate for the LGBTQ community Abby Rubenfeld spoke to the cruelty of institutional racism and invoked the late Barbara Jordan who advocated challenging societal wrongs.
The Metro Human Relations Commission and Tennessee Human Rights Commission co-sponsored the event. Tennessee HRC Executive Director Beverly Watts urged the crowd to be mindful as she led the crowd in the Pledge Against Racism. To take the online pledge, visit <www.standagainstracism.org>.
For 119 years, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee has helped women, girls and families in Nashville and Middle Tennessee build safer, more self-sufficient lives.
YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Programs include Domestic Violence Services, Girls, Inc., MEND, ‘j k livin,’ Dress for Success and the Family Literacy Center. For more information, visit <www.ywcanashville.com>, follow us on twitter YWCANashville, Instagram @YWCANashville and find us on Facebook <facebook.com/YWCANashville>.