AAUW’s Diversity Statement
In principle and practice, AAUW values and seeks a diverse membership. There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, race, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability or class.
YWCA Greater Cleveland 21 Day Challenge
The 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge is designed to create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. Our challenge starts on Monday, March 1st and continues (Monday–Friday) through March 29th.
Each day of the challenge you will be presented with activities such as reading an article, listening to a podcast, reflecting on personal experience and more. Participation in an activity like this helps us to discover how racial injustice and social injustice impact our community, to connect with one another, and to identify ways to dismantle racism and other forms of discrimination. More information and registration can be found at YWCA 21 Day Challenge. The membership is encourage to participate.
2021 FEBRUARY BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROGRAM:
The Green Book: Driving While Black
Not even a pandemic could stop AAUW’s Black History Program titled “Driving While Black.” We started our Zoom journey with the song, “Route 66” and a prayer for safety by Jill Heck. Kathy Kraus as Victoria, with her black friend Matilda, took us on a journey from Cleveland to Georgia, using The Negro Motorist’s Green Book. This travel guide was written by Victor Hugo Green in 1936. It provided Blacks with the names and addresses of restaurants, motels, tourist homes, gas stations that would welcome them. This guide could be purchased at ESSO gas stations. In the 1950’s in all fifty states 50 thousand copies a year were sold. Most Blacks traveling at that time packed their own food and pillows. They took a can just in case they could not access a restroom. They also had a code word to signal “get in the car now” in case they encountered any problems.
They had to travel the back roads because they were not welcome at facilities on the main highways. The guide stopped publication in 1966 when most of these travel businesses opened to everyone as a result of the Civil Rights Act.
Allison Lee gave a short biography of Victor Green. A Florida acapella choir sang the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Alana Arnold delivered an inspirational keynote address. She reminded us that “democracy may be delayed, but never permanently defeated. We must find solutions to unite all people, to find common ground and understanding.” Colleen Rice provided the technology expertise to make the videos work. The program closed with a prayer by Senesa Peterson and the song “This Little Light of Mine.” Over 75 people attended the Zoom presentation. Thanks to Kim Oliver, AAUW diversity chairwoman, for her leadership in planning this program.
A follow up to the Black History Month program on the Green Book
By Pat Chaloupek
Lincoln Hills, Colorado was the only vacation resort west of the Mississippi owned and operated for African- Americans at a time when there were limited opportunities for blacks to find accommodations.
The Lincoln Hills development, 38 miles west of Denver, was originally established as a County Club Community in 1922 with over 100 acres. Plots were made available for $50 – $100 each, with as little as $5 down. People could build cabins or camp on their property. When it was officially dedicated in 1928, it had cottages and a lodge, including Wink’s Panorama Lounge that featured noted black performers such as Lena Horne, Count Bassie and others who would come from gigs in Denver. The resort was accessible by railroad as well as automobile.
At the time of the resort’s founding, the KKK was dominant in Denver politics and the Colorado Governor was a Klan member. Lincoln Hills catered to middle class blacks from the Denver area and other west and mid-west locations. It provided an “escape” from city life and the pressures of Jim Crow restrictions with activities such as camping, hiking, swimming, fishing and being outdoors in the Colorado Rockies. There was also a YWCA Summer Camp on site.
It officially closed in 1966, after its founder died and Civil Rights laws were passed. Some years later, Lincoln Hills was designated an Historic Site, and eventually bought by an organization dedicating itself to providing outdoor opportunities to disadvantaged youth.
- For more information, go to its website: historiclincolnhills.com.
- For a half-hour video, go to “Colorado Experience: Lincoln Hills.”
Other dedicated resorts at the time were Idlewild, MI, known as the “Black Eden of Michigan,” and Oak Bluffs, MA, the only town on Martha’s Vineyard that welcomed black tourists.
On Tuesday, November 17th at 6:30 PM the Medina Diversity Project will partner with the Medina County District Library to present a 1-hour virtual program: “Introduction to Coded Language.” No registration is required and the event is limited to the first 100 people to join. Click here to access the program:
Caitlin Hawkins of the Northeast Ohio Diversity Council will talk about the definition, history, and implications of coded language (also called dog-whistles). Language and communication can be explicit and implicit. It is a component of culture that is coded with meanings, attitudes, beliefs and power dynamics.
Over time, our language and its meanings become layered and can therefore function in different spaces in different ways and for different purposes. In other words, meanings of words and their implications change over time.
This program will increase your awareness of the coded language that many of us use in our daily lives and will offer practical skills around how to critically assess one’s own language and how to respond when others use coded language.
When the dust from most of the recent protesting settled, a group of women, the board members of the Medina Branch of the American Association of University Women, decided the next logical step was to have a discussion about race relations. Kimberly Oliver, Medina AAU- W’s Diversity Chair and candidate for Medina County Juvenile/Probate Judge, contacted Colleen Rice, Director of Leadership Medina and Pamela Miller, Chair of the Diversity Project, an offshoot of Medina AAUW. The three groups partnered to offer a Zoom community discussion on July 23, 2020.
The title of the community discussion, which was widely advertised, was “Let’s Talk: A Discussion on Systemic Racism.” The purpose was to encourage people to talk about an uncomfortable topic—race relations. But the goal, according to Oliver, was “to gauge the state of race relations in Medina County, to identify strengths and weaknesses in the community, to inspire self-examination and to engage with others to acknowledge, confront and advance the goal of a better community.”
Seventy-five community members participated—from high level corporate executives to retired concerned citizens. Participants were fairly representative of the community in terms of sex, race, and age.
Everyone was divided into groups of 5-7 participants, a facilitator, and a scribe to take notes. The following pre-prepared questions were presented by the facilitators for group discussion:
-What do you think “systemic racism and institutional racism mean?” Are there differences between the two?
-Have you ever witnessed someone being treated unfairly because of their race? If so, how did you respond and how did it make you feel?
-What does “white privilege” mean to you? How do you think white privilege affects people’s attitudes about racism in our community”
-Have you ever wondered why people of color are not doing as well as whites – in education, employment, housing, health, wealth? Why do you think that is? What are the barriers they face?
-How have recent events made you think differently about racial disparities? Have these events inspired you or discouraged you from reaching out?
-What are some actions you’d like to encourage the community, businesses, or government to take to address systemic racism? What are you willing to do?
After an honest discussion in which participants acknowledged that systemic and institutional racism were problematic in the United States, everyone talked about what might be done and what they could do to help alleviate the problems faced by African Americans.
Message from National AAUW CEO, Kimberly Churches
We join the country in mourning the losses of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other people of color who have been unjustly killed across our nation. Our country needs healing. But healing will only come with racial justice.
In addition to taking care of yourself and your loved ones, today we are asking you to do three things: listen, learn, and then vote.
First— listen. Listen to the Black and Brown leaders and members of your community when they speak. Remember that many people are struggling with enormous pain and despair, so we urge self-educating instead of asking Black and Brown people to work for the benefit of your learning. (If you need somewhere to start, we recommend “New Era of Public Safety: A Guide to Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing” with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and “Racism 101” with Showing Up for Racial Justice.) When listening, minimize questions to a simple, “Is there anything I can do to help you today?”
Second— learn. Read our recent statement highlighting AAUW’s stand against racism and this Washington Post article by 2016-17 AAUW American Fellow alumnae Keisha Blain about the problematic history of policing in this country. Systemic racism is firmly rooted in the United States— from police brutality to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. Then talk to your family, children, and friends. Talk to them about how today’s injustices mirror our own country’s shameful history. Saying “Black lives matter” is important and needed. This is an historic moment that requires your vocal support.
Third— vote. And make sure everyone is able to access and exercise this important right. Our democracy works when everyone can fully participate, but people of color often experience discrimination at the ballot box. With a pivotal election ahead, persuading policymakers to expand voting rights is a powerful way to support marginalized communities.
Change begins with understanding and ensuring that all are being heard.
New Diversity Book Club
This can be a difficult experience. But it’s incumbent on all of us to do the hard work. We at AAUW also acknowledge as an organization that we have work to do. We invite you to join us in learning and supporting this work towards long-term and lasting change.
AAUW is a powerful and positive force for change— let us truly listen, learn and ensure everyone’s voices can be heard.
As a next step to the collaborative Conversation on Race, AAUW Medina County Branch has started a new book club. Its goal is to provide a forum for conversation.
The books that have been chosen present stories about human relationships – love, friendships, families – and show how racial and cultural imprints influence the characters and their actions.
Monthly discussions about the books can lead to readers comparing their reactions to the story line and characters. The hope is to create new connections across neighborhoods and strengthen relationships within Medina County.
Find out more about an inter-racial book club here:
Manasota Interracial Book Club |
GUEST EDITORIAL: Manasota Interracial Book Club, learning to read one another
WHEN: Monday, September 21st, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
WHERE: ZOOM. A link will be sent on request. Email your interest to Kim Oliver at email@example.com
BOOK ACCESS: Medina County District Library, Book Club Agent, Jeannine Murray. Call her at (440) 759-8806 to arrange for contactless book pick up at 562 Wadsworth Road, Medina (3 blocks south of the library).
“THE HATE U GIVE”, by Angie Thomas
This story is about a young woman from a poor neighborhood who attends a white preparatory school. She witnesses a crime and is then torn between the two different worlds she in which she lives. The book was made into a movie in 2018, and was nominated for several NAACP Image Awards.
Diversity Chairperson, Kim Oliver was awarded First place for “Diversity and Inclusion”, for 2020 at the AAUW annual meeting. Thank you Kim for all your hard work!
AAUW and Community Organizations Host a Virtual Racism Discussion
The Medina Diversity Project, American Association of University Women (AAUW) Medina Branch and Leadership Medina County jointly hosted a community conversation on race, that took place virtually July 23, that was just as much about listening as it was about talking. During the session, participants were split into small groups for discussions.
“We need to be listening,” said Medina Diversity Project Chair, and AAUW member Pamela Miller. “We need to get others engaged so we can come together as a community.” The facilitated format will allow community members to talk person-to-person.
“I believe listening and awareness are the first step towards a solution, and that is what we are aiming for here,” said AAUW Diversity Chair Kimberly Oliver.
18th Black History Month Program Salute to Veterans: The Fight for Freedom
“This year’s event acknowledged and saluted the Black Veterans of the United States of America Armed Forces who fought and continue to fight for all of our freedom even when they had or have none of their own,” announced Kim Oliver, Medina Branch Diversity Chair. The program was highlighted in a recent edition of The Medina Gazette.
The Black History Month program, which has become a tradition in our community, was held Thurs., February 20, at the Second Baptist Church, 451 Bronson St., Medina. Co-sponsors with AAUW were the Second Baptist Church and Fellowship Baptist Church.
From Civil War regiments to Tuskegee Airmen and in present day military incursions, black soldiers have distinguished themselves with valor; they were celebrated in song, poetry and historical readings.
The Claggett Middle School Choir, the Medina Community Choir, and Local VFW #5137 also participated in the program. A “pick-up” community choir sang that evening, having come to the church an hour before the program for practice. AAUW members brought plated snacks and dessert items to the Fellowship Hall for serving following the program.
Oliver chaired the program with assistance from branch members Kathy Kraus and Alanna Arnold, and Pastors John and Senesa Peterson of Fellowship Baptist Church and Arthur Ruffin, of Second Baptist Church.
FEBRUARY 2019, BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROGRAM
The 17th Annual Black History Month Program was held in partnership with Second Baptist and Fellowship Baptist Churches on February 21. The program celebrated African-American culture in song, dance and personal contributions. The middle school choir, a “pick up choir”, a praise group and little dancers highlighted the evening.
2018 Annual Black History Month
Sponsored by AAUW Medina Branch and Second Baptist Church, drew a record crowd of over 300 enthusiastic persons of all ages. The “Celebrate Unity in Our Community” theme was highlighted by musical presentations from the Diversity Choir, elementary and middle school choirs and drum corps, a local soloist, and several community business persons–all who inspired us to catch the spirit of the evening. More on the Programming page.
2017 Black History Month Program was a huge success: a record crowd attended the 15th annual event held on Feb. 23, 2017.
How does Medina County score on Title IX compliance? See a commentary from our October 2016 program and panel discussion on Programming page.
13th ANNUAL BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROGRAM: Medina County Branch AAUW and the Second Baptist Church hosted “A Community Conversation: Does Race Matter?” on February 12. At the end of the program, a number of persons expressed interest in continuing the dialogue. Branch member Pamela Miller and the Rev. Cornell Carter met with community members. From these sessions, the “Medina Diversity Project” was conceived. Contact Miller for more information.