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Celebrating Five Years of YWCA Charleston's Race to End Racism

On April 29, 2017, YWCA Charleston launched our inaugural Race to End Racism. Held in conjunction with the national YWCA Campaign: Stand Against Racism, the Race to End Racism has grown exponentially each year, with 900 participants registered for our last in-person event in 2019. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Charleston community and beyond came together in 2020 for the first-ever virtual Race to End Racism.

Now, in 2021, we are hosting the second virtual celebration to both raise awareness and to raise critical operational funds for the YWCA Charleston Racial Justice Program. With those funds, the progress and growth we have seen from our Racial Justice Program has created powerful dialog and action to address racism.

Guided by our Racial Justice Committee, comprised of members of diverse faiths, ethnicities, races, ages, socio-economic statuses and professions, YWCA Charleston works with a broad spectrum of partners in the community to address the ways racism is tearing the fabric of our families and communities. Since the inception of the 2017 Race to End Racism, here are some of the Racial Justice Program highlights:

FIVE Years of Progress in Racial Justice:

• Hiring a full-time Racial Justice Program Director, Deedra Keys-Switzer.

• Presenting our Implicit Bias training in-person and virtually to over 1500 individuals

• Partnered with many community leaders and organizations including West Virginia State University, University of Charleston, West Virginia Center for African American Culture, West Virginia House of Delegates, Kanawha County Schools, Charleston Area Alliance, Generation Charleston, and many others to provide trainings, host events, and participate in panel discussions.

• Hosted in-person and virtual "Conversation Cafe" events, engaging community and YWCA staff in topics to support open dialogue about racial and social justice issues.

• Helped establish the honorary renaming of Charleston's Court Street to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

• Hosted a panel discussion and created a video giving a stage to the unheard voices of Charleston's historic Triangle District.

We have so many reasons to celebrate the past five years of racial justice work, but we have so much more to do. It is our mission to ensure meaningful change happens right here for people of color in West Virginia.

Please join us in this mission and Race to End Racism virtually, wherever you are, from April 10th - 24th and click here to register and find out how you can get involved with our Racial Justice Program.

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