A Message from the YMCA African-American CEO Network: Memphis - A Time for Healing, Restoration, Action

Greetings YMCA of Central New York Community,

As a member of the National YMCA’s African American CEO Network, I wholeheartedly support this message issued by that body under the leadership of my colleague David Brown, Chair-YMCA African American CEO Network and President/CEO-Capital District YMCA.

Bertram L. Lawson II
President & CEO 
YMCA of Central New York 


Friends, please share this message with your YMCA, Staff, Volunteers, Networks, and Community,

The current state of the United States of America and even in the world, in many ways,  the tragedies, the injustices and the horrific loss of life that most recently we see in our nightmares in Memphis, and the disregard of the humanity for all groups can feel impossible to disrupt alone. Please take time for healing and restoration.

Like the Civil Rights March in 1963, the African American CEO Network believes that the equity is in our actions. The Town Hall in 2019 was the substantive action we developed to ignite over 9000+ global leaders to stand up together, it was the largest virtual march, virtual meeting to date in our Y history. Our primary goal was to unite the Movement to drive systemic changes that established system actions. Three years later, we press on….

Three actions we worked to ignite after our Town Hall was to address, at the individual level where prejudices resides and at the systems level where racism exists are: 1) We worked across the system to develop the Anti-Racist Multi-Cultural framework 2) We worked collaboratively with YUSA to re-establish the Multi-Cultural Leadership Development focus and 3) We worked collaboratively to revive and recommit to a focus to improve Boys and Young Men of Color.

The Memphis incident as well as the barrage of other traumatic incidents devastating communities nationally, give us more factual accounts that violence, hate, prejudice, and racism should not be given space in any neighborhood, any home, any community. We know we are hurting at the individual level and in every community. We prioritize the role of mental health at every level.  Our National Office and your local community has resources if you need help. Here is a YUSA link: tools and resources

Today we seek to continue to ignite collective action to stimulate a direction to elevate and advance the anti-racist multi-cultural focus from 2019. Our next step is to find a way to work with the ERGs and local Ys to mobilize a Town Hall 2.0 for increased collective action.

The world we love and the organization we choose to live out our collective purpose is capable of bolder actions, our YMCA history is grounded in elevating indigenous voices beginning with the 1st Black, Native American and Women Auxiliary in the mid-1800s. Our goal is to learn from our bold past and revive and restore our faith in leaders, specifically those on the front line to attack policies, practices and programs head on.

We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends to Tyre’s family and others impacted by senseless violence and the killings of citizens and the disregard of humanity.

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through the continuous struggle” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You are not in this alone, let us face and confront all systems of oppression for all people, together. We are indeed better together, let’s struggle together.

In Solidarity,

The YMCA African American CEO Network

David Brown
President and CEO