he Ricky Byrdsong Race Against Hate was founded in 2000 with the goal of fighting against all forms of hatred and discrimination. Photo by Genie LeMieux, Evanston Photographic Studio

5,200 participants ran or walked along the Evanston Lakefront Trail on June 16 for the 16th annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate. Runners could choose to compete in a 5K run, a 10K run, a 5K walk, or a fun youth mile with their kids. The Race honors the late Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong, who was shot in 1999 by a white supremacist while walking with two of his children. The Race was founded in 2000, with the goal of fighting against all forms of hatred and discrimination within the Evanston community and beyond.

Several tents were set up around Long Field near Northwestern University for the runners and their families to enjoy. Some handed out pre- and post-Race snacks such as bananas and energy drinks, while others were adorned with “Black Lives Matter” signs and rainbow flags to show support for peace and equality. One tent set up two large chalkboards with “I race for…” written at the top, allowing people to write what the Race means for them underneath. The messages included “America’s safety and world peace through non-violence,” “No More Massacres,” and “#OrlandoStrong,” in memory of the 49 people shot and killed in an Orlando nightclub on June 12.

The Evanston Running Club (ERC) was one of the Race’s biggest sponsors this year, with members volunteering time to stuff registration packets and help work different stations. “We do a number of things. We donate money – this year we upped our contribution to $1,000, so that’s part of why we get a space on the quad. We’ve been involved with the Race since it started,” said ERC president Chuck Janczy. He added that around 200 ERC members participate in the Race every year.

All funds and proceeds from the Race were donated to the YWCA Evanston/North Shore. According to its website, the YWCA will use these funds to “assist children in our schools and local youth organizations to challenge their own prejudices and foster healthy, violence-free relationships among their peers; support teenagers in examining their own relationships and practicing constructive ways to handle conflict and differences; and encourage adults to engage in constructive dialogue, interactive activities and meaningful action as related to racial justice.”

The results of the Race can be found at mychicagoathlete.com. More information about the Race, Ricky Byrdsong, or the YWCA’s mission can be found at ywca.org.