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MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — For over 150 years, the YWCA has been at the forefront of the fight for racial justice, and while times have changed, representatives said they still have a lot of fight left in them.

In 1858, the Young Women’s Christian Association formed. Participating in social justice movements has been at its core since the start.

With chapters of YWCA now reaching across the U.S. including Muncie, Indiana.

That work remains at the front of what the organization does, taking a stand against racism is one of its latest ongoing fights.

WaTasha Barnes-Griffin is the chief executive director, even though time has changed a lot has remained the same.

BARNES-GRIFFIN: I don’t think it’s shocking. I think it’s a reality that we have to face. We often think that we’ve come so far, in which we really have, there’s still always a ways to go. And so at YWCA, we’ve been part of a women’s run organization. We’ve been part of some of the most critical social movements. Like again, saying it today versus 160 years ago. We are at the forefront of women’s empowerment and civil rights movement, to affordable housing to pay equity and healthcare reform. Those things have been fought for in 1850 and they’re still being fought for in 2020.

WINFREY: How does it make you feel when people say we’ve come far enough there is no need for all of this that we’re seeing today even with the protests?

BARNES-GRIFFIN: That’s unfortunate. That shuts down a lot of opportunity and I see there is a need for education when folks say that. So yes, we have come far, but we will continue to go further. If we have folks who are willing to stand together and unite and work towards achieving some of that.

WINFREY: So, what are some of the things that you all do to help push across those messages of racial justice and things of that nature?

BARNES-GRIFFIN: We combine programming and advocacy to generate institutional change in those three focus areas. So racial justice and civil rights, you know we are working with our community in our country. And one of our signature events is a stand against racism. And so we want to focus on ensuring that equal protection are available for all people. With a specific light being on women and women of color. And so we do that through some strategic initiatives. Stand against racism is a thing that we do every year in April. And and we just ask our community and our country to stand with us, to work towards the elimination of racism. Do you have conversations and to look to people who don’t look like you and live like you. To come to the table and be able to hear and listen and learn and to share. And that’s one of our signature events. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and there is a collective in our community in Muncie that said, you know having conversations with city leaders, and we’ve all still together in black-and-white to say that we want to make sure that justice is running through Muncie, Indiana.

WINFREY: We constantly hear ‘let’s have these conversations, let’s talk.’ Are you hopeful that we are going to see a shift? In recent months we’ve seen so many protests not just in Indiana but clear across the country. Are you hopeful that that’s a signal that more people are ready to have those conversations to break down those racial barriers?

BARNES-GRIFFIN: I think that it’s a moment. I’m not sure that everyone is ready to have the conversations. But I think that the light is really shining and people are seeing what’s happening across the country. And you can no longer live as if you don’t know. So it’s exposed now. But I think that there are many people who are still not ready to have the conversations because people just refuse to have the conversations. But our hope is to continue to engage people, and use our voices, and mobilize in our communities.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Finding ways to communicate with each other on a personal level — across race, gender and class — is a strength that the Kheprw Institute is actively pushing throughout many communities in Indianapolis.

In the latest We Stand Together report, News 8’s Alexis Rogers sat down with one of the co-founders of the nonprofit focused on empowering youth and building community wealth in Indianapolis.

In the video, Imhotep Adisa, the executive director, shares some of what he has to say about having real conversations to find the places we could all potentially align.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Art is the beautiful backdrop and springboard for the country’s largest and most critical conversations, especially those focused on the social justice movement.

News 8’s Alexis Rogers sat down with Israel Solomon, an artist and teacher who is using creative activism in Thursday’s We Stand Together.

Watch the video to hear the interview.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — The Bible says, “And a little child shall lead them.”

In this case, it’s a college-age student. In Friday’s We Stand Together, News 8 spoke with a young man at Indiana University who strives to make systemic changes.

He is a junior at Indiana University who is working hard to be a force for good on campus. His name is Ky Freeman. Not only is he president of the Black Student Union, he’s on the IU Police Department Advisory Council and and he co-founded the nonprofit Enough is Enough.

Earlier this year, through his organization, he organized a June march where he says more than 4,000 people showed up to address police brutality and hold police responsible.

News 8’s David Williams talks with Freeman in the video.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Being committed to fighting social injustice through self-reflection and faith — that’s a big part of the approach of Christian Theological Seminary students who are committed to pushing back against systemic racism.

News 8’s Alexis Rogers spoke with a student and local podcaster, Cassidy Hall, about what it will take to confront racism in Indianapolis.

Click the video for the full interview in another segment of “We Stand Together.”

You can also listen to our “We Stand Together” podcast and other episodes anytime online.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There are two things that no other city has that leaders believe make Indy the perfect place to work together: access to resources and accountability.

In Friday’s We Stand Together, News 8’s Alexis Rogers sat down with the head of one of the largest foundations in the country that is charging 10,000 Hoosiers to make a difference.

Watch the video to hear her interview with Brian Payne, president and chief executive officer of the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — We Stand Together has been a series of stories giving leaders and the community an opportunity to share their voices.

Some say we could learn a lot from the sports community.

On Thursday night’s News 8 at 10, a special edition, as Our Community Link host talks with Rick Fuson, president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment.

Watch the video to see the interview.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Taking an honest look at civic leadership in the city and challenging how inclusive it is.

In the latest We Stand Together, News 8’s Alexis Rogers sat down with Leadership Indianapolis to get a look at how leadership and community make a difference.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A need to improve racial equity pushed a local organization to change its mission.

Several years ago, the group put into motion a new plan for a more Inclusive City. For Monday night’s We Stand Together, the focus is on the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

Over a century ago, the Indianapolis foundation formed, and it’s now called the Central Indiana Community Foundation. The goal has always been to do good in the community. In 2017 when the organization analyzed its five-year strategic plan, the foundation decided it needed to do more than good.

Representatives noticed when it came to economic mobility, the color of someone’s skin often factored in. The vice president of development and strategy, Rob McPherson, said, in a push to dismantle racism, improve equity and inclusion across the city, the mission changed.

MCPHERSON: Who would have known for years ago when we started this journey our own personal racial equity journey as well as the institutional strategic planning journey, that we would find ourselves here in 2020 with a pandemic, and economic crisis, and a racial reckoning across the country. So we’ve been preparing for this. Maybe not this specific moment but we are ready to go. We dropped all the planning and all of the thinking and all the theoretical work and moved right into action. From last year right into this year. So with all of the racial unrest since memorial day and the murder of George Floyd, we’ve been strongly positioned to continue the conversation and strengthen the communities bond towards dismantling systemic and structural racism.

WINFREY: And talk about some of the work you all do to make this work. Or to get this thing rolling.

MCPHERSON: Well we do three things. We are a grant making organization. So deploying some of our financial resources is definitely part of our efforts. But we also provide philanthropic advice to other families in the community who have philanthropic wealth to distribute. And then we provide kind of a human lead, human leadership, influence leadership, influence capital to help change some systems and do some convening and move initiatives forward.

WINFREY: Did you find that through that particular element that when you have those organizations that are closer to the community you can get work done more efficiently or you have a better idea of what it is that those communities need?

MCPHERSON: I would say the latter. We have a better idea of what those communities need. As part of our strategic planning process before we changed our mission, we did a lot of listening out in the community. And a very simple adage of doing with not too came out of that process. So many times communities disadvantage communities, underrepresented communities felt like the not for profit sector or the charitable sector was coming in with this program or with this initiative, and here you must need this. And there was never really any listening or joint planning or what could we do together, or this is what we need. Do you have something like that. So that very simple adage of with not to has helped inform how a lot of our grant making, a lot of our strategy work, and the way in which we want to work the how we do what we do moving forward.

WINFREY: Have you seen the value or the mood change when you go in and you’re like what do you all need from us versus this is what we have.

MCPHERSON: Absolutely, and it’s about relationships. We have to create these trusting relationships with neighbors, residents and communities as a whole. And that takes time. Sometimes speed is the enemy of equity. Sometimes we especially in an institution like ours we want to make decisions like thia or get the grants out the door and the people to the table or whomever. It’s all about relationships. And if we don’t create authentic trusting relationships, people of color in this community. As a predominantly white institution, I mean we were created by white men back in 1916, and a white culture has perpetuated it until the last few years here. So in order to create trusting relationships with black, indigenous people, other people of color we have to spend time and prove ourselves.

WINFREY: And why is it so important that people who don’t look like me are a part of the conversation and are willing to put themselves out there to say hey I see where there is something lacking or I see a place where I can do something?

MCPHERSON: I think in addition to listening, like you and I have talked about already. I as a white man need to understand other peoples lived experiences. I don’t know what it’s like to be a black woman. I don’t know what it’s like to be an immigrant from Mexico or Guatemala. I have got to honor those experiences, and I have to I know your life and your background, and your family, and your tradition, and learn as much as I can. Again I think that’s part of the suppression, part of the oppression of the past is not celebrating that. Or me not spending time and investing my time in the lived experiences of the other person.

Around the end of the month CIFC will be holding a virtual event outlining what’s been accomplished along with some new announcements. The organization is also expanding its work with Eli Lilly for the racial equity fund.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Broadway United Methodist Church has been around for nearly 100 years. They’ve been very vocal in how they believe all Indianapolis can stand together.

It’s been said that actions speak louder than words.

News 8’s Alexis Rogers sat down with the church’s new pastor who seems to live by that very rule.

Click the video for another segment of “We Stand Together.”