Stand Against Injustice Series

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Join us for TWO DAYS OF JUSTICE in September

Stand Against Injustice Virtual Lunch & Learn – Blocked from the Ballot
Wednesday, Sept. 27 | Noon – 1 PM CST

We kick off our Stand Against Injustice Virtual Lunch & Learn series, presented by Nissan Foundation, with a look at voting rights in Tennessee. Hear from national experts and community leaders on why so many in our community are blocked from the ballot. Learn about current efforts to expand the right to vote and the barriers they face.
Our webinar speakers include:
Dr. Kristen Budd, PhD , Research Analyst – The Sentencing Project
Kareem Crayton, Sr. Director Voting Rights & Representation – Brennan Center for Justice
Dawn Harrington, Exec. Director and Founder –  Free Hearts
Stephanie Harris, Work Readiness Coordinator – Metropolitan Development Housing Authority  (MDHA)


Stand Against Racism Community Rally – Votes Against Violence
Thursday, Sept.. 28 | 11:30 AM – 1 PM CST
Diane Nash Plaza – Public Square Park

Join us at this year’s Stand Against Racism Community Rally – Votes Against Violence, presented by The Harnisch Foundation, as we recognize and celebrate those at the nexus of voting rights and gun violence prevention. Tennessee is in the spotlight due to the dedication of activists and citizens striving for safer communities and amplified voices. Our unity underscores that safeguarding lives transcends politics. We’ll hear from voting rights advocates and gun violence prevention champions, highlighting the fusion of democracy and safety. The Stand community rally is co-sponsored by the Metro Human Relations Commission and will embody the power of collective action, illuminating a path to a future where our voices shape positive change in a state grappling with crucial issues. Stand with us for a better tomorrow.
Advocacy Fair – 11:30am – Noon
Program – Noon – 1pm CST




Watch the following video to learn more about our Stand Against Racism lunch and learn series.

Our Stand Against Injustice (formerly Stand Against Racism) monthly lunch and learn series explores how race and the legacy of discrimination continue to affect our lives – whether in our everyday interactions with others at work, school, or in our neighborhoods and communities. Each month, we host experts and thought leaders on specific topics. Due to COVID-19, our series moved to an online platform, allowing for more people to join the conversation. The 2021-22 series was presented by Nissan Foundation and supported by PNC Bank. The 2020-21 series was presented by Regions Foundation of Tennessee and supported by Allstate.

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Past Stand Against Racism Webinars

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” ~ U.S. Bill of Rights, Amendment II

For most of American history, those 27 words generated little debate. However, over the last 50 years, the Second Amendment has become central to our “culture wars,” with deeply partisan interpretations over what these words were meant to protect. This Stand Against Injustice webinar features academics, advocates, and community leaders with unique perspectives on America’s relationship to gun rights and the Second Amendment.  We welcomed legal expert and Assoc. Professor at Caruso School of Law  – Pepperdine University Jacob Charles, Founder of Nashville Peacemakers and survivor Clemmie Greenlee, and Metro Nashville’s Director of Community Safety Ron Johnson.

YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee hosted a debrief of athebusy and controversial  2023 legislative session. While maneuvers for political power dominated the headlines, this also diverted attention away from proposed or passed bills that impact Tennesseans’ daily lives. YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee promotes trauma-informed, survivor-centered policies and practices and youth empowerment efforts that contribute to community accountability and harm reduction at the intersection of racism, sexism, and gender-based violence. Our panelists will discuss some of the legislation that impacts our clients and communities we serve, while framing these proposals considering larger power struggles in the state and nation. As we recap our most recent legislative session, we’ll also provide resources for those who want to get involved and help make a difference.

On April 26, 2023, we explored addiction as an issue at the intersection of mental health and disability. Addiction is often viewed by society as a personal failure requiring punishment, rather than treatment. The stigma and shame surrounding addiction creates barriers to treatment on an individual and societal level. Contrary to this misconception, addiction is a disease and often a natural response to the (often brutal) human experience. Bad public policy has turned a public health issue into a public health crisis that disproportionately harms young adults, women, and communities of color. Our panel will feature leaders working to create communities of connection for our most vulnerable neighbors. As we deconstruct the stigma around mental health and addiction in marginalized communities, we’ll also provide resources for those who want to get involved and help make a difference. Join us for this important conversation and be part of the stand against injustice! Featured panelists include: James Bush, Director of Treatment Services | STARS Nashville Pamela Sessions, Chief Executive Officer | Renewal House Carol Westlake, Executive Director | Tennessee Disability Coalition

Until 1964, the Nashville YWCA functioned as a segregated all-white Downtown YWCA, and an all-Black YWCA called the Blue Triangle Branch. Join us during Women’s History Month for our next Stand Against Injustice webinar featuring leaders who have carried on the legacy and stories of the YWCA Nashville Blue Triangle Branch. The YWCA owes its advocacy priorities of Racial Justice, Gender-Based Violence, Civil & Human Rights, and Health, Safety & Empowerment to the work of the Blue Triangle. Our panel will discuss the legacy of the intersection of race and gender, especially how it relates to the history of the YWCA and where we go from here in the fight for women’s rights. We’ll also provide resources for those who want to get involved and help make a difference. Join us for this important conversation and be part of the stand against injustice!


Featured panelists include:

Andrea Blackman, Chief Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer, Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County
Dr. Carole Bucy, Davidson County Historian & Professor, Cumberland University
Joyce Searcy,  Director of Community Relations | Belmont University


A special Black History Month Stand Against Injustice webinar took place on Wednesday, February 22. Our Featured panelists, Dr. Sekou Franklin, Author & Professor – Middle Tennessee State University; Brigette J. Jones, Director of Equitable Partnerships – Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery; Linda T. Wynn, Assistant Director for State Programs – Tennessee Historical discussed the systemic factors that threaten Nashville’s Black Community. Our panel will explored topics such as the gentrification of historically Black neighborhoods, increasing levels of racial segregation, the construction of the I-40, current development projects, and the connections between them.

Leaders in the LGBTQ+ community – Abby Rubenfeld, Dwayne Jenkins and Phil Cobucci – joined our panel discussion on Wednesday, Jan. 25 to share about the challenges and threats facing individuals and how to support and protect the community. This webinar series is made possible with support from the Nissan Foundation.

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, YWCA hosted an important conversation on the rise of antisemitism in our community and across the U.S.  Local and national experts discussed the disturbing rise in antisemitic rhetoric and real incidents in our own community. Hear why this is happening in 2022 and what we can do together to combat the hate.  Watch the webinar here: 




October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time when we remember those who have lost their lives to abuse and ensure survivors are protected and empowered to move forward. After years of delay, the Violence Against Women Act was re-authorized in March of this year. VAWA led to a cultural change when it was passed 28 years ago. YWCA and other domestic violence service providers rely heavily on VAWA and other federal and state laws to support survivors, however there are still gaps in the system that leave survivors and victims vulnerable. Join us on Wednesday, October 26th as we highlight the strengths and weaknesses in our communities for those experiencing domestic violence.

The school-to-prison pipeline describes the process through which children of color are criminalized and pushed out of their communities and schools into disciplinary or alternative schools, detention centers, jails, and prisons. This disproportionately impacts students of color, youth with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ students. Black students are three to five times more likely to be suspended or arrested than their white peers. This pipeline leads to traumatic and unfavorable outcomes for our students. On Thursday, September 29, 2022 YWCA hosted a discussion on the school-to-prison pipeline, what it is, and how to disrupt it featuring Davidson County Court Judge Sheila Calloway, The Education Trust in Tennessee’s Reginald Nash, and Disability Rights Tennessee’s Johnnie Hatten.

We’re taking a deep dive into the rights that all citizens of the U.S. are free to exercise and why individual states are allowed to prohibit certain individual rights. The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to take away a right for the first time in our nation’s history and delegating to the individual states decisions that women have been free to make for the past 50 years. Fear that voting rights, same-sex and interracial marriage, and other liberties may be lost is real. Hear from some of the leading constitutional law and civil rights experts in the nation on this important issue on Tuesday, June 21 from 12 – 1 PM CST.

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does….It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.” Nelson Mandela

Racist and oppressive policies in sports have existed for decades and have led athletes on the professional and collegiate level to utilize their platform to speak out against injustices. But when Colin Kaepernick and other athletes and coaches have spoken out and demonstrated against injustices, the pushback has been strong and swift. This raises the question – what are Black athletes’ and coaches’ roles in advocating for change?

On May 25th, YWCA talked to leaders in the collegiate and professional sports arenas about what activism and advocacy can look like in sports.

On Tuesday, April 26, 2022, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee welcomed leaders from a several prominent organizations to discuss how to become a better ally in the fight against racism, discrimination, and white supremacy. We hear from Judith Clerjeune with TIRRC, Sheryl Guinn with the Nashville Branch of the NAACP, Joseph Gutierrez with API Middle TN, & Sabina Mohyuddin with AMAC in this powerful conversation.

March 30, 2022 – Women of color have always been leaders in fighting against oppression due to their race and gender. In honor of Women’s History Month, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee is highlighting women of color who are currently working against systems of oppression to create a better world for all of us. This webinar, presented by Nissan Foundation and supported by PNC Bank, took place on Wednesday, March 30 and featured leaders from the Center for Nonprofit Management, Workers’ Dignity, TIRRC, Walk Bike Nashville and the Nashville Branch of the NAACP.

On Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, YWCA hosted a special Black History Month Stand Against Racism virtual lunch & learn – Black Art Matters. We were delighted to have artists and educators Danny Broadway, LeXander Bryant, Lakesha Moore, and Brittany Mitchell join us for this discussion of Black art and representation. Thank you to these outstanding artists and to all who joined us for this webinar, presented by Nissan Foundation. #BlackArtMatters

HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) began in response to a history of inequality and a lack of access for people of color to higher educational institutions. HBCUs were created as spaces for Black people to receive a higher education during a time when existing colleges and universities did not admit Black people. MSIs were created as a response to the low numbers of people of the global majority (people of color) attending and graduating from colleges and universities. These institutions create a more diverse campus where students of the global majority are more likely to find their community and be successful. According to professors and the authors of Making Black Scientists, Marybeth Gasman and Thai-Huy Nguyen, “MSIs play an important role in the nation’s economy by preparing a diverse workforce and prepare underrepresented students for graduate and professional school.” These institutions allow for the celebration and preservation of culture in a way that can be very difficult at a historically white institution. YWCA’s January 2022 Stand Against Racism monthly webinar features experts from American Baptist College, Meharry Medical College, and FUTURO.

The pandemic has forced many of us to think more about our mental health. In addition, isolation has brought to light mental illnesses that many were not aware of before. The rise in mental health awareness is promising, but we can’t forget that there is an intersection of mental health and the experience of communities of color. From finding culturally competent therapists to unlearning stigma around mental health care, the journey of mental healing can be difficult for people of color. Join YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee for a Stand Against Racism webinar on the intersection of race and mental health. We’ll hear from local experts about the complexities of mental health for people of color, what they see happening in the region, and how we can create a community that supports the mental health of all people.

In Tennessee and across the country, we are seeing an abuse-to-prison pipeline, where gender violence leads to the incarceration of girls and women. While this phenomenon exists among all racialized groups of girls and women, Black and brown girls who are victims of abuse are more likely to be processed by the criminal justice system and labeled as offenders than white girls; and Black women and other marginalized people are especially likely to be criminalized, prosecuted, and incarcerated while trying to navigate and survive the conditions of violence in their lives. Join us for a Domestic Violence Awareness Month webinar to hear from experts and community leaders on how we can work to combat this form of systemic racism.
Speakers include:
Hon. Ana Escobar, Metro Nashville – Metro Nashville & Davidson County General Sessions Judge
Dawn Harrington, Exec. Dir. Free Hearts
Briana Perry, Co-Exec. Dir. Healthy & Free Tennessee
LaToya Townsend LMSW, Dir. of Training, Outreach & Development Metro Nashville Office of Family Safety



With the new school year underway, join YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee for a Stand Against Racism webinar on the disparate impact of education funding in Tennessee. You will hear expert panelists address the inadequacies of funding in the realms of K-12 and higher education, particularly impacting students who are poor, Black and brown, English-language learners, and those with disabilities. We’ll learn how to collectively combat the injustice and systemic racism in our educational institutions.
Hear from :

• Charles K. Grant, Shareholder & Veteran Litigator – Baker Donelson
• Gini Pupo-Walker, State Director for Tennessee, The Education Trust; Metro Nashville School Board Member
• Kiah Albritton, Policy and Communications Associate, The Education Trust for Tennessee

Moderated by Sharon K. Roberson, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee

Take an inspiring walk through social justice musical history with us. This powerful Stand Against Racism webinar features artists and experts on the influence of music on the Movement. Our June 30, 2021 program included performer and educator Patrick Dailey, Dr. Marquita Reed-Wrigh of The National Museum of African American Music, and musicologist and professor Dr. Yvonne Kendall.

Why is it important for all of us, including children, to understand historic racism in the United States? Join us on May 25 and hear from experts in education, local history, and civil rights. They’ll discuss why we must face our history head on and meet our children where they are in their youth and human development. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Regions Foundation of Tennessee.

You will hear from:

Moderator: Sharon K. Roberson, President & CEO, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee

Panelist: Andrea Blackman, Metro Nashville Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer

Panelist: Dr. Learotha Williams, Scholar of African American, Civil War and Reconstruction, and Public History at Tennessee State University

Panelist: Dr. Maya Bugg, Chief Executive Officer ,Tennessee Charter School Center

Panelist:  Vilmaris González, Senior Manager of Engagement and Operations for Tennessee, The Education Trust

Click here to view the 2021 Stand Against Racism Rally.

We take a Stand Against Racism every day by raising awareness about the impact of institutional and structural racism and by building community among those who work for racial justice.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will host our Stand Against Racism community rally virtually. You are invited to hear from community and civil rights leaders and experts in the field of public health including:

Brenda Haywood, Deputy Mayor – Metro Nashville

Beverly Watts, Exec. Director – TN Human Rights Commission

Kinika Young, JD – Sr. Dir. Health Policy & Advocacy – Tennessee Justice Center

Wayne J. Riley, M.D., MPH, MBA – President, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University | Former 10th President, Meharry Medical College | Director, HCA Healthcare, Inc.

This year’s Stand Against Racism event will also feature music, poetry, and the presentation of the 2021 Carrie Hull Award for Service to Meharry Medical College.

The Stand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA and is part of the larger national strategy to fulfill our mission of eliminating racism. Race and the legacy of discrimination continue to affect our lives – whether in our everyday interactions with others at work, school, or in our neighborhoods and communities.

Regions Foundation of Tennessee is our Presenting Sponsor for the 2021 Stand Against Racism.  The Tennessee Human Rights Commission and Metro Human Relations Commission are also returning sponsors of our community rally.

Racism and sexism in sports have persisted over generations. Enduring legacies of these injustices have spurred activism and advocacy across Nashville and the United States.  Teams and athletes around the country have held strikes, taken a knee, and used their platform to speak up and out against racism and oppression. During the month of March Madness, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee hosted a virtual panel discussion on the intersection of sports, racism and sexism featuring leaders from our community.

Thank you to our panelists Shan Foster, Dr. Candice Storey Lee, & Andrew Maraniss and our CEO & moderator Sharon K. Roberson.

Amid historic protests in support of the Movement for Black Lives and the recent white nationalist insurrection at the Capitol, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee hosted a panel discussion on the ways in which the First Amendment supports and challenges the fight for racial justice in Nashville, Tennessee and across the country. Panelists provided the audience with short-term and long-term calls to action as we work together to invest in Black and Brown communities and to seek peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all in our democratic society.

Our panelists include:

  • Brandon Tucker, Policy Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee
  • Gautam Hans, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University
  • David Hudson Jr., Fellow for the First Amendment, Freedom Forum Institute; Visiting Associate Professor of Legal Practice at Belmont University’s College of Law
  • Sharon K. Roberson, President & CEO YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee

On January 26, 2021, our Stand Against Racism webinar focused on education. The coronavirus has exposed and heightened historical racial disparities in our society and has spotlighted racism as a public health issue, particularly impacting Black children and youth of color in our public education and K-12 school system. YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee hosted a Stand Against Racism webinar – Education in a Time of Crisis on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.Moderator: Sharon K. Roberson, President & CEO, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee

Panelist: Christian Buggs, Chair, Metro Nashville Public School Board of Education

Panelist: Kasar Abdulla, Chief Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity Officer – Valor Collegiate Academy

Panelist: Dwanna Kimbro, Girls Inc. Program Coordinator, YWCA Nashville & Middle TN

Panelist: DeeAnne Miree, Principal, Cambridge Early Learning Center

Join us on Nov. 19 for a panel discussion addressing the intersection of policing and racism, particularly highlighting policing of vulnerable communities of color in Nashville. This Stand Against Racism panel, presented by Regions Foundation of Tennessee, will address the level of distrust of police that exists in many communities due to the history of racism in America, especially in communities of color. We will also discuss ways that policing can be changed to address the concerns of individuals in our community about present policing methods.

Host & Moderator: Shan Foster Executive Director, AMEND Together and VP of External Affairs YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee

Panelists: Featuring members of the Policing Policy Commission and the Interim Chief of Police

Ashlee Davis, VP, Alliance Bernstein, Member Community Oversight Board|
John Drake, Interim Chief of Police, MNPD
Sabina Mohyuddin, Executive Director American Muslim Advisory Council
Juliana Ospina Cano, Executive Director, Conexion Americas
Larry Turnley, Violence Interrupter, Gideon’s Army

For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, please join us for a Stand Against Racism Lunch & Learn – Domestic Violence in a Time of Crisis. This virtual panel discussion is presented by Regions Foundation of Tennessee and will examine how racism and domestic violence are intersecting forms of social injustice. Our expert panelists will discuss how domestic violence providers, services, and response systems are not immune to the individual, institutional, and systemic racism that pervades our society; thus domestic violence prevention and intervention strategies must address the effects of racism in order to establish community safety and accountability.

You will hear from:

Host: Sharon K. Roberson, President & CEO, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee

Moderator: LaToya Townsend, Director of Training, Outreach and Development, Metropolitan Government of Nashville-Davidson County’s Office of Family Safety

Panelist: Alexandra Chambers, Founding Member, Free Hearts; Ph.D. candidate in Religion and Ethics at Vanderbilt University

Panelist: Sparkle Johnson, Founder, SuperWomen Inc.

Panelist: Chay Sengkhounmany, Lead Immigration Attorney, Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee

Panelist: Damien Talley, Director of Residential Services, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee – Weaver Domestic Violence Center

Today, we face two global pandemics – COVID-19 and racial injustice. At this intersection, nearly one-third of Black people in the U.S. say they know someone who has died from coronavirus.

Join us to address different levels of racism impacting healthcare. You will hear from experts in healthcare who lead fights for the health and well-being of Black people and people of color amid COVID-19. The event will be moderated by YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee president & CEO, Sharon K. Roberson and feature these panelists:

Celia EzidiegwuMD, Pharmacovigilance Physician at Otsuka Pharmaceuticals; Specialty: Preventive Medicine

Tanzye Hill, DT, M.Ed., Founder and Owner of Birth Manifesta, LLC

Betsy Swann, MA, Community Health Manager at Siloam Health

Consuela H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Executive Director, Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, Professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Associate Professor of Medicine, Meharry Medical College

Kinika Young, JD, Senior Director of Health Policy and Advocacy, Tennessee Justice Center

As the August and November elections approach, we must equip ourselves with the knowledge and tools to advocate for our most vulnerably positioned community members to have access to the ballot. View our virtual lunch & learn on the state of felony disenfranchisement in Tennessee, voter restoration campaigns, and what you can do to advocate for expanded access to the ballot.Host: Sharon K. Roberson, President & CEO, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee

Moderator: Charles Grant, Veteran Litigator, Baker Donelson

Panelist: Dawn Harrington, Executive Director, Free Hearts

Panelist: Brandon Tucker, Policy Director, ACLU of Tennessee

Panelist: Robert Sherrill, The Equity Alliance

Click below to view our Stand Against Racism Virtual Community Rally that took place on April 22, 2020.

Pledge Against Racism

As an individual committed to social justice, I stand with YWCA against racism and discrimination of any kind. I will commit to a lifetime of promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all people in my community and in the world.

The Stand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA and is part of the larger national strategy to fulfill our mission of eliminating racism. Race and the legacy of discrimination continue to affect our lives – whether in our everyday interactions with others at work, school, or in our neighborhoods and communities. The 2020 Stand Against Racism is co-sponsored by the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, Metro Human Relations Commission, and Vanderbilt Divinity School Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative.