YWCA Greater Cincinnati
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Outside the YWCA's downtown headquarters, people held hands during the three minutes of silence.

Three Minutes of Silence: 

From Mourning to Moving Forward.

Miriam West, Carolyn McCoy & Herbert Smitherman reflect on Cincinnati's many losses as church bells toll across the city.

In 1996, the YWCA Board of Directors established a Racial Justice Committee to examine how the YWCA responds to the needs of diverse and underserved populations. The purpose of this committee is to provide Board and staff members with the training, perspective, and sensitivity necessary to guide, assist, and support the establishment of programs to breakdown racial and cultural isolation, to raise awareness and to promote racial justice in the community.

The YWCA has engaged in many endeavors in its long-standing history of promoting cultural diversity and racial justice:

  • In the late 30’s YWCA women joined with other women’s organizations to get Anti-Lynching legislation passed.
  • In 1946, the YWCA established an interracial charter and during the racial unrest of the fifties the Cincinnati YWCA cafeteria was the first and only place that blacks and whites could eat and meet together.
  • In 1970, the National YWCA convention adopted the elimination of racism as its One Imperative.
  • In 1975, the YWCA initiated the city wide commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday and led the way in establishing a state holiday to honor his memory. As a founding member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Coalition, the YWCA continues to be involved in the coordination of efforts to honor the legacy of Dr. King. Learn more about this important collaboration here.
  • In 1996, the YWCA Board of Directors established a Racial Justice Committee to examine how the YWCA responds to the needs of diverse and underserved populations.
  • Racial Justice Study Circles were initiated in 1996 for board and staff to raise their awareness about the YWCA mission to eliminate racism and to work towards changing attitudes that contribute to racial discrimination in Cincinnati.
  • On May 30, 2001, spearheaded a “Three Minutes of Silence” Observance, endorsed by more than 130 organizations, to respond to the racial turmoil and violence of April that created community-wide conflict in Cincinnati.
  • Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship Fund was established in 1993 to provide financial assistance to African-American female high school seniors who are furthering their education.
  • Annual Heart to Heart Racial Justice Breakfast was established in 2001 to promote the YWCA’s mission to “eliminate racism” and create a safe space where participants can confront racism. Attendees experience a meaningful dialogue about racism’s personal and community-wide impact with keynote speakers who have had a national impact on landmark civil rights cases.
  • Racial Justice Reading Circles- Sharon Draper, writer and poet, facilitates and organizes discussions on books focused on social issues related to racial justice or women’s experiences for YWCA board members and staff quarterly.
  • Rising Star Board Leadership Training Program was established early in 2007 for women ages 25 – 40 to enhance development of their leadership skills with a strong focus on racial and gender equity.

The Elimination of Racism

The YWCA supports policies that contribute to the elimination of racism. This includes but is not limited to policies that eliminate racial profiling, increase immigrant rights, retain and strengthen affirmative action, reduce hate crimes and result in increased education on racism and its elimination.

Affirmative Action

The YWCA supports the maintenance and strengthening of affirmative action laws to protect people from discrimination on the basis of race and gender. 

Read the YWCA Position Paper on Affirmative Action


YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, 898 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
 website@ywcacin.org • Phone: 513-241-7090 • Fax: 513-241-7231
Copyright 2013