YWCA rallies against racism during STAND event

YWCA Executive Director Kathleen Rodgers (center ) and others rally against racism and descrimination at the corner of Calhoun and Coming streets Friday.

The YWCA of Greater Charleston on Friday held its annual event aimed at combating racism, domestic violence and other issues.

The event, titled "Stand Together Acclaim a New Day" or STAND, pulled together different community groups with a workshop, a panel of speakers and a rally at the YWCA, 106 Coming St.

"We've got a cultural problem when it comes to domestic violence in the state of South Carolina. We've got a community problem," said Patricia Warner, project manager Medical University Hospital's National Crime Victim's Center, who addressed the dangers of domestic violence in her speech to the crowd.

"People get complacent and they like to think everything's just wonderful and great now since we fought the big fight for the Civil Rights Movement," said YWCA Executive Director Kathleen Rodgers in an interview during the rally.

"Yes, we fought the big fight. And yes, a lot of things changed as a result of that, but at the same time there continue to be issues," Rodgers said. "We need to pay attention to what's going on in the community around us. This is a way to get different groups together to talk about the different forms of discrimination that we're experiencing in our society today."

YWCAs across the country held local events promoting the cause, Rodgers said.

This is the fifth year the Charleston group has participated, she said.

According to Rodgers, one important area of discrimination was in the form of health care, given Gov. Nikki Haley's refusal to accept Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

"We were a site for registering for the Affordable Care Act and I can't tell you how many people I saw walking out of here in tears," Rodgers said. "A lot of people don't really pay attention to politics and when they were told they couldn't get health care because our state refused to accept the money it was devastating for some of them."

Volunteers at Friday's rally encouraged attendees to not only register, but practice their right to vote.

"Don't sit back and complain that you don't like something when you didn't even bother to do anything about it. You may not get what you want but at least you had something to say," Rodgers said.

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.