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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, running, supporting, protesting, and working to change our systems. 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:

Sherialyn Byrdsong on the 2020 Race Against Hate
2020 Walk Against Hate in 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:

Panel discussion with Sherialyn Byrdsong
SUPPORT OUR RACIAL EQUITY WORK

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.

Why race?
Race Against Hate, 20 years running
2019 RACE RESULTS

Press coverage from 2019 Race Against Hate

Thanks for racing with us!
One of Ricky’s favorite quotes, that he patterned his life after, and tried to instill in his family, friends and players was, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it." This Race Against Hate is our 90%. We have responded to Ricky’s death in a way that would make him proud.
Sherialyn Byrdsong