“We must raise awareness that racism still exists,” said Fannie Villarreal, executive director of the YWCA in Syracuse.
As a result, the YWCA hosted its 17th Annual Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism and Promote Diversity April 16, at the Sky Armory in downtown Syracuse.
The organization selected 22 individuals, from all walks of life, to be honored for their work in promoting diversity. This year’s Diversity Achievers Class included Preston Fagan, president, Syracuse and Onondaga County chapter of the NAACP; Dr. Zheadric Barbra, of the Syracuse City School District; Luz Encarnarcion, of La Casita Cultural Center; and Haji Adan, of the Somali-Bantu Association.
Jackie Warren-Moore, poet, playwright, activist, and emcee for the event, was also honored.
“I think wonderful things happen when people make time to talk and work together,” Warren-Moore stated. “I am deeply honored to be noticed by the people putting the work in to end racism, and celebrate diversity.”
The event also included workshops on social media, led by Berenice Bonilla; 4th District Common Councilor Khalid Bey tackled leadership; and Andy Mager, of the Peace Council, discussed working across cultures.
“This work is really important for our community, we must show people working positively to promote diversity,” said Villarreal.
According to Villarreal, the mission of the YWCA is to eliminate racism and empower women. Consequently, she said the YWCA held this year’s event at Sky Armory, a venue which is owned by Nicole Samolis.
“We believe in living our mission by supporting a woman owned-business,” Villarreal stated.
And, in addition to its “Day of Commitment,” the YWCA has also invited the entire community to attend a “Day of Sharing” at its 401 Douglas St. headquarters, April 23, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. According to officials, there will be poetry, music, and more from across generations. Additionally, Warren-Moore said event officials hope and expect the work to end racism will continue in the community beyond words and rhetoric.
“What I would like to see come out of this, is that the honorees, and others, continue to reach out, connect, and keep up the good work,” Warren-Moore stated.
Tickets for the event on April 16 were $50. The April 23 event will be free, and open to the public.
“I live and breathe the mission of this work every day, that’s why this is so important to me,” said Villarreal. “Working together can create change.”
Visit www.ywca-syracuse.org, or call 315-424-0040, for additional information regarding the events.