Students take a Stand


As a community, how do we teach young people to recognize inequality and speak out against it? How do we remind ourselves that the struggles of the not-too-distant past still shape our country today? What change do we make by publically standing against racism? These are difficult questions best answered with action.

Last month, more than 250 local organizations joined with YW Boston to promote social equity and participate in YWCA’s national Stand Against Racism movement. Stand events took all forms, including film screenings, cultural performances, workplace dialogues, and public demonstrations. Among dozens of remarkable gatherings, we were particularly moved by the Stand held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum — a youth reenactment of the 1963 March on Washington. 


On a field trip to the JFK Library, 150 elementary students from the Cabot School in Newton and Dever Elementary School in Dorchester learned about civil rights trailblazers, reflected on the importance of diversity, and marched for peace and tolerance. The students also heard from Pamela Cross of WCVB Channel 5, who shared her personal story of attending the March on Washington with her family as a 10 year-old.

Esther Kohn, Education Specialist at the JFK Library, led efforts to coordinate the Stand. “It was a memorable day to see elementary students singing and waving signs,” said Esther. “They were thoughtful in their responses in group discussions and seemed eager to learn about civil rights in history as well as today. There were staff members with tears in their eyes and one came up to me the next day asking how she could be involved next year.”

Hosting a Stand is an opportunity to foster open dialogue about race, ethnicity, and inclusion — issues that are not always easy to address in our day-to-day lives. If your organization or community group is interested in holding a Stand next year, please contact Kathryn Henderson, Director of Civic Engagement at YW Boston, at (617) 585-5423 or YW Boston also facilitates Community Dialogues on race and ethnicity throughout the year that bring colleagues and neighbors closer together. Learn more here.