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Unlearning Systemic Racism Through the YMCA’s Virtual Town Hall

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African American YMCA CEOs are teaming up to help people unlearn systemic racism through a virtual town hall, which will take place Wednesday, July 1 at 10 a.m. CST.

Since the Y’s annual conference in Washington D.C., that was set to take place at the end of June, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, YMCA CEOs started moving toward monthly meetings through Zoom as a way to stay connected.

David Brown, the president and CEO of the Capital District YMCA, with locations throughout New York, said in those discussions they started seeing the COVID-19 pandemic was hitting communities of color especially hard. Because of this, they organized a subcommittee of CEOs and formed a Health Disparities Committee to start talking about how they could deal with the crisis.

“While doing that, the George Floyd situation happened,” said Brown. “So, it became more evident to us that we are fighting against two pandemics, one being COVID and the other being racism.”

This is where the idea of the virtual town hall meeting was born. Brown said they wanted a place where they can invite people from different backgrounds to hear, from the African American CEO perspective, what systemic racism looks like. Their goal is to help people understand systemic racism exists and what they can do to eliminate it.

The town hall will feature a variety of presenters, one being Steven Reed, the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, to discuss what systemic racism is, what it looks like and what the people of Alabama are dealing with.

Other presenters include:

  • Kimberly Richards, an organizer and trainer with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond Undoing Racism.
  • Daniel Hill, a pastor and author of “White Lies” and “White Awake.”
  • Nate Burleson, a former NFL player, and co-host of Good Morning Football and The NFL Today.
  • Kevin Washington, the president and CEO of YMCA of the USA.
  • Loria Yeadon, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Seattle.
  • Glen Gunderson, the president and CEO of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.
  • Steve Tarver, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Louisville.
  • Lauren Koontz, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta.
  • Sen. Kamala

“We want to end racism,” said Brown. “It’s something that has been talked about for hundreds and hundreds of years. We think this is a great opportunity now with everything that is happening — especially with young people getting involved the way they are — that we can have some adult and professional conversations about how we all can work together.”

Currently, there are 2,500 people registered, but Brown hopes to reach 10,000. According to Brown, the town hall is open to anyone and everyone who would like to participate. If you’d like to register for the event, you can do so here.

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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is a staff writer for Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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