Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate
The Race Against Hate honors the legacy of Ricky Byrdsong, former Northwestern University Basketball Coach, Vice President of Affairs at Aon Corporation, and Skokie resident who was murdered by a white supremacist in 1999 while walking in his neighborhood with two of his young children. On the same day, the shooter wounded six Orthodox Jews in Rogers Park. Over the subsequent weekend, he killed a Korean American graduate student in Indiana and wounded an African American minister in Decatur before taking his own life.
Because of Ricky’s lifelong love of sports and his compelling work with young people in the community, the Race Against Hate was launched by his family and friends in 2000 (and entrusted to YWCA Evanston/North Shore in 2007) to honor Ricky’s legacy and bring attention to the need to combat hatred in all its forms. (Read Sherialyn Byrdsong’s story of the founding of the Race Against Hate.)
In 2020: Different Locations. Shared Experience. A Community United.
In a typical year, the Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate draws over 5,000 participants. In 2020, we couldn’t gather for the Race, but many people embraced the spirit of the event by walking and running on their own in June and by learning, supporting our racial equity work, and working to change systems of inequity and oppression.
Thanks to everyone who walked or ran on their own in June, and to our Race Champions, Heros, and Buddies, who gave what would have been their registration fee (or more) to support YWCA’s equity work.
View Sherialyn Byrdsong’s message to the community on the 21st anniversary of the Race Against Hate below, and the Walk Against Hate she inspired in her hometown of Atlanta:
On Thursday, June 18, Sherialyn Byrdsong; YWCA Evanston/North Shore President/CEO, Karen Singer, the Director of YWCA’s Equity Institute, Tiffany McDowell; and longtime Byrdsong family friend and Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Missouri State University, Lyle Q. Foster discussed critical issues challenging our communities. Together they discussed parallels between Ricky Byrdsong’s murder in 1999 and today, and imagined action that we might all take to move our country toward greater equity and inclusion. View the video recording below and see slide show of those who walked and ran on their own in June as part of the Race Against Hate…in place:
The Race Supports Our Mission
Proceeds from the Race Against Hate are used to further the mission of YWCA Evanston/North Shore, in particular our efforts in the areas of racial justice and violence prevention. With this funding, YWCA assists children in our schools and local youth organizations to challenge their own prejudices and foster healthy, violence-free relationships among their peers; supports teenagers in examining their own relationships and practicing constructive ways to handle conflict and differences; and encourages adults to engage in constructive dialogue, interactive activities and meaningful action as related to racial justice.
Press coverage from 2019 Race Against Hate
- Chicago Area Runners Association: Race Against Hate Recap
- Chicago Tribune: 20 years after Ricky Byrdsong was murdered, the Race Against Hate continues in Evanston: ‘It’s a living demonstration of the power of love over hate’
- FOX32 Chicago: Ricky Byrdsong’s death at the hands of a white supremacist still prevalent 20 years later
- CBS2 Chicago: Hundreds Race Against Hate In Memory Of Northwestern Basketball Coach Ricky Byrdsong
- Chicago Tribune: Race Against Hate looks to bring community together: ‘We refuse to be stymied’
- ABC7 Chicago: The Race Against Hate continues in Evanston 20 years after Ricky Byrdsong’s murder