At the core of the YWCA’s work is the recognition that not all women, or all people, are treated equally. The common thread that unites YWCAs across the country is a commitment to racial justice and civil rights. The YWCA ensures that our programmatic and advocacy work combines to fight discriminatory practices and expose patterns of prejudice in legislation, institutions and systems. Over 85% of YWCAs offer distinct racial justice programs designed to increase awareness, break down stereotypes and communication barriers, and build mutual respect and understanding of racial differences. Gender, race and economic equality are social issues that are interconnected and must be addressed in concert.
For over 100 years, black women and their families have been integral to the success and progress of the YWCA. Black and multi-racial college chapters helped shape the movement in the early 1900’s. From that point on, black women’s voices have been central to the history and future of the YWCA. Famed civil rights leader, Dr. Dorothy Height was critical to ensuring that the YWCA was successful in implementing its ambitious and forward-thinking 1970 Interracial Charter. Under the leadership of YWCA President Helen Claytor, the organization adopted its “One Imperative” to eliminate racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary. Today, our national and local efforts focus on racial justice issues such as immigration reform, affirmative action, hate crimes, voting rights and racial profiling. To learn more about the YWCA Brooklyn’s history, please visit our timeline.