We are hiring Early Learning Teachers! LEARN MORE

Discover the Y’s Connection to Black History Month

Posted: Feb. 02, 2021 Download "Black America, A Cornerstone in Y History"

TIME Magazine Elevates the Y's Commitment to Inclusion

YMCA of the USA was featured in TIME magazine’s special “Black Renaissance” edition honoring Black culture and the arts, which is now on newsstands. In the spread, YMCA of the USA CEO Kevin Washington shares an optimistic message about the Y’s long, historic journey toward greater inclusion, shining a spotlight on the story of Anthony Bowen, the founder of the first “Black YMCA” in 1853, and his own story as the first Black President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. We are thrilled that this message will reach TIME’s 16 million readers during Black History Month, as we reflect on our organization’s history and continue on our journey to become an anti-racist, multicultural organization committed to advancing inclusion and equity for all. VIEW HERE

The history of the YMCA – like the history of the United States – is a story of incremental progress toward greater inclusion and equity for all. As we celebrate Black History Month, we remember and honor the Black leaders who helped move the Y – and America – forward on this journey, often in the face of unimaginable challenges.

Did you know that Black History Month has roots associated with the YMCA? In 1915, Carter G. Woodson, a University of Chicago alumnus, arrived in Chicago to attend a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation sponsored by the state of Illinois.

Inspired by this three-week celebration where thousands of African Americans had traveled from across the country to see exhibits that highlighted the progress of black people since the end of slavery, Woodson met at the Wabash Avenue YMCA in Chicago with a small group and formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). This began the foundation that would create Negro History and Literature Week, renamed Negro Achievement Week, later Negro History Week, and eventually Black History Month.

Known as the “Father of Black History,” Woodson wanted the study of past black life to have a significant impact stating, “We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements.” It is important to note that the focus of Black History month has been on black achievements since enslavement in the US, however, Woodson’s intent was to explore modern black history as a starting point to deeper exploration beyond the arrival of enslaved Africans in the Americas.

To celebrate and honor this tradition, the South Shore YMCA will be featuring stories of black leaders within our communities, within the Y movement, and within American history and modern culture who continue to show us the way towards a more equal, anti-racist society.

We invite you to join us and other YMCA’s across the country on February 26, 2021 for #WeWearBlack, a day to bring awareness to systemic racism and oppression of Black people in the United States and around the globe. Join us and take a stand. Wear black, post your photo and tag #WeWearBlack #ssymca

#WeWearBlack February 26

We invite you to join us for We Wear Black on Feb 26, to take a stand against injustice and racism in all forms.
We Wear Black to bring awareness to systemic racism and oppression of Black people in the United States and around the globe. Join us. Take a stand. Wear black on February 26, post your photo, and tag #WeWearBlack