Race Against Hate returns for 20th year

The annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate, which is presented by YWCA Evanston/North Shore, will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. The race is set for June 16.

Held every Father’s Day, the Race Against Hate honors the legacy of Ricky Byrdsong, former Northwestern University men's basketball coach, who was murdered in 1999 by a white supremacist.

The first race was held in 2000 by Byrdsong’s family and friends and was entrusted to YWCA Evanston/North Shore in 2007. Allstate is presenting sponsor of the race, which is also supported by over 60 local businesses, schools, faith and civic organizations.

The Race Against Hate draws thousands of runners and walkers to Evanston, not only from the Chicago area but also from across the state and country. Proceeds go toward YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s work to prevent violence and promote racial justice.

As part of the 20th anniversary, YWCA Evanston/North Shore will host a breakfast on Thursday, June 13, featuring a conversation between YWCA President and CEO Karen Singer and Sherialyn Byrdsong, Ricky’s widow.

“The 20th anniversary is meaningful because for two decades now, people have come together not merely to run or walk, but to gather to show their commitment to ending racism, hate, and intolerance,” said Singer. “This is why Sherialyn refers to the race as a ‘silver lining in a dark cloud of hate.’”

She added, “We hope this year will be our biggest crowd yet. If you’ve never been to the race before, this is the year to give it a try. There’s something about it that energizes all of us and reinforces our deepest desires to make the world a safer, more just place.”

Online pre-registration is available until Tuesday, June 11, or register on race day at Floyd Long Field, located at Sheridan Road and Lincoln Street in Evanston, starting at 6:30 a.m.