Today, along with more than 200 sister YWCA’s across the country, we reflect on the life and legacy of an icon in promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His drive for equality still informs the work we do, every day, to ensure that women, girls, and people of color are seen as they are: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.
Even as we pause, we know the need for action does not. YWCA Dayton has been at the forefront of the most pressing social movements for 152 years. From voting rights to civil rights, from affordable housing to equal pay, from violence prevention to health care reform, we’re not new to this; we’re true to this.
In keeping with the King family’s request to do more than march, our President and CEO, Shannon Isom, represented YW at a voting rights rally held at Courthouse Square.
“We are still in this place, hoping for something different. Doing the exact same thing that we have always done, have always had to do. Showing up, asking, marching, demanding, pleading and then waiting for someone else to do the right thing : treat all people with intrinsic value and inherent dignity, deserving to have voice and choice and rights,” she told the gathered crowd. “We are not just celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, but picking up the same heavy mantle that bears the weight of injustice. ”
She closed her remarks with a charge: “We are still here. Don’t leave today thinking you’ve done something by showing up, and not knowing who your Senator is or who your Congressperson is and then telling them that this is an inherent dignity, the right to vote.”
Be On A Mission with us. From engaging in community dialogue at our Y-Dub Discussions to building better individual habits with our Stand Against Racism Challenge (previously known as the 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge), there’s something each of you can do to make meaningful progress toward racial equity.
Here are six ways to continue the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., today:
- Read our essay on the women of the Civil Rights Movement. In honor of MLK Day, our advocacy director shares thoughts on one of the most powerful, but often overlooked, forces in the Civil Rights movement – women.
- Sign up for our next Stand Against Racism Challenge. Formerly known as the 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge, this email-based program walks participants through daily prompts and journal exercises to build better social justice habits and a stronger, more equitable community.
- Commit to professional development that centers racial and gender equity. YWCA Dayton’s Sojourn Leadership and Justice Academy is a cohort for women, ages 25 to 40, that convenes and cultivates young women leaders as community change agents for racial justice, gender justice, and economic empowerment. The 2022 class will be selected next month; apply now.
- Join us for our first Y-Dub Discussions conversation of 2022. Y-Dub Discussions: Y Social Justice? will reflect on the World Day of Social Justice (held Feb. 20) and explore the history of global social justice endeavors, the barriers women still face, and how everyone can make their voices heard. Free to attend; join in via YouTube at noon on Feb. 16.
- Help pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. In the past year, voters have seen stricter voter identification laws, limited voting times, inaccessible polling places — and racial minorities are among those most impacted. Equal access to the ballot box for all is critical. Tell your members of Congress to swiftly pass the Freedom to Vote Act today.
- Request a speaker on racial justice. Whether virtually or at a safe social distance, Team YWCA is still educating, training, and empowering our community to be On A Mission. Our staff expertise covers a wide range of topics, all with a focus on intersectionality. Need someone to present to your group? Looking for a company training? We can help.