You did it! Thank you for completing the first ever YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley 21 Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge! On behalf of our staff, I commend you for standing with YWCA in the racial justice space as we: Commit. Communicate. Educate. Act.
We are privileged to be part of a network of 200-plus associations buttressed by YWCA USA
. We are indebted to YWCA Greater Cleveland
, creators of the original YWCA 21 Day Challenge, for propelling us into the “eliminating racism” facet of YWCA’s mission. Thank you! I am also awed by our dedicated staff who customized the Challenge with local, regional, and statewide data, while ensuring that everything worked seamlessly on the backend. I appreciate you!
The bookend dates of our 21 Day Challenge were planned and serendipitous. Planned because we intentionally launched the Challenge on Juneteenth, the national day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Serendipitous because the last full week of the Challenge coincided with the passing of two civil rights giants—U.S. Congressman John Lewis and Rev. Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian—and the birthday of Nelson Mandela, an international icon who also fought for racial equality.
In speaking with several of you during the Challenge, your reflections mirrored my own and those of other YWCA staff. “I had no idea.” “Is this for real?” “How could they this do this to other human beings?” “This
is still happening in 2020?” As you ask yourself, “What’s next?,” pledge to stay on this path for the long haul. Long after this global pandemic and long after the media headlines flip to the next social crisis.
Is it a stretch to think that any of us can be on the level of Rep. Lewis, Rev. Vivian, or the legendary Mandela? No matter where you are in your racial and social justice journey, I implore you to keep going. You have committed
to this work by choosing to increase your self-awareness. You are communicating
the importance of this work by sharing your reflections with others taking the Challenge or those who don’t know where to start. You are educating
others by forwarding links from the Challenge and having uncomfortable conversations with family members and co-workers. You are taking action
by writing elected officials, supporting related nonprofits, and taking your voice to the voting booth and ballot.
Thank you for standing with YWCA. We stand with you.