Accompanied by the voices of children united in song, YWCA members opened a dialogue today in their "Stand Against Racism."
Keynote speaker Maria Lopez shared her stories of overcoming prejudice. Today, working at Central Community College, she sees the student body diversifying, with more accepting attitudes.
Maria Lopez: "Before, it was scary for students being in a white environment. I heard one student saying she was feel like a "fly in the milk" when she was in college, but now it is more and more common."
Audience members shared stories of prejudice that had affected them, their friends, or loved ones. For one listener's mixed race grand-daughter, different treatment has been more than just an inconvenience.
Betty Norton: "She goes into a store and they're very much watched, very much watched. They don't have the freedom to roam like I do when I go in, and it hurts them."
The nationwide event coordinates over a quarter million people to stand together and make a pledge for tolerance.
But organizers say taking a stand could be as simple as greeting someone who looks a little different from you, perhaps a neighbor.
Maria Lopez: "A neighbor...you know, "I'm here if you want to come over, any questions...I can help you."
On Friday YWCA members and students took a stand against racism, and Saturday they'll carry it one step further, with a walk against racism on East Fonner Park Road.