YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee and community partners gathered at Diane Nash Plaza in front of the Historic Metro Courthouse on May 5 for the ‘Stand Against Racism Community Rally and Advocacy Fair.’ The annual event seeks to build a community among those working for racial justice and seeks to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism. Celebrated scholar and writer, Caroline Randall Williams, granddaughter of the late Nashville Civil Rights icon, Avon Williams, provided the keynote address and poem.
“I love the promise of America. I love the idea of a place that is free and equal, but we are not there yet,” said Randall. “We are going backwards, and we must be ready for what’s next. We must be paying attention…It is plain that we are witnessing the rumblings of a seismic shift of radical regression. And I say it’s time to ring the alarm, to gather, to decide to pay attention, to hope for the best but be prepared.”
The Stand Against Racism rally also featured remarks from civic leaders, Deputy Mayor Brenda Haywood (who told the crowd her personal story of integrating Metro Nashville’s Stratford High School in 1963) and Vice Mayor Jim Shulman. Inspirational music was performed by singers Patrick Dailey, Dr. Yvonne Kendall, and Adam Smith. State Sen. Brenda Gilmore was honored as the Carrie Hull Award recipient.
“We are delighted to honor Sen. Gilmore for her dedication to the YWCA mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all,” said YWCA President/CEO Sharon K. Roberson. “Carrie Hull became the first African American board member of the integrated Nashville YWCA in 1963, and she was a tireless leader for the rights of all people in our community. Sen. Gilmore is a worthy recipient of this award.”
An advocacy fair and voter registration drive was held featuring YWCA partner organizations: Metro Human Relations Commission; ACLU, Tennessee; American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC); AWAKE; API Middle Tennessee; Black Mental Health Alliance, Nashville; Islamic Center of Nashville; Nashville Chapter of the NAACP; Tennessee Innocence Project; Tennessee Justice Center; Tenn. Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence; and Walk Bike Nashville.
The Stand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA U.S.A. and is part of the larger national strategy to fulfill our mission of eliminating racism.
For 124 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. Its programs include Domestic Violence Services; Girls, Inc.; AMEND Together; Dress for Success; and the Family Learning Center.