A ‘Stand Against Racism’

Community members show support for diversity

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Monday afternoon, the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA and Not In Our Town, co-sponsored a public solidarity event called Stand Against Racism, held on the Marshall County Courthouse lawn. Here, MHS junior Brandon Avalos, far left, recites the poem “I Am Joaquin” as fellow student and speaker Ma Tway helps hold his reading materials.

Monday afternoon, two local groups, the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA and Not In Our Town, joined forces to co-sponsor a public solidarity event called Stand Against Racism, held on the Marshall County Courthouse lawn.

Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance proclaimed the day as “Stand Against Racism Day.”

NIOT Chairman Jeff Hutton told those assembled — a group ranging from small children, to senior citizens, students, members of law enforcement and business owners — that the issue is to not just tolerate others, but to embrace one another.

“We’re more alike than we are different,” Hutton said.

YWCA Board Chair Samantha Vance said Marshalltown’s Y has been an active participant in the Y’s Stand Against Racism national campaign, which is aimed at empowering women, standing up for social justice and eliminating racism.

“These events are powerful statements that remind us about injustices,” Vance said.

Three pupils from Marshalltown High School recited poetry reflective of the struggles various cultures have endured through the years.

Brandon Avalos, a junior, and member of Al Exito, recited the poem “I Am Joaquin” by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, which was written in the 1960s about the struggles for economic and social justice for the Chicano people.

Avalos said he chose to read that particular poem because “it showed how in a large society, there’s still discrimination, but one day, we will all be united.”

Freshman Ma Tway recited a poem entitled “Watch Out,” written by Maung Maung, who was once the president of Burma. It’s theme, Tway said, is reflective of her own life experiences.

“I come from a refugee camp in Thailand, and that is what the poem presented,” she said. “Marshalltown is a really good place, and I love the diversity and how helpful people are to us here.”

The final poetry reading was done by sophomore Phoebe Osgood, who read Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“I think [the speech] still speaks very strongly today,” Osgood said.

The students had a little over a week to practice and learn their speeches.

“We looked for pieces that were inspiring to their cultures,” said Jocelyn Frohwein, instructor at MHS. “We wanted to participate in this, because when people get together to support each other, we’re stronger; I’m always about building community.”

For more information, visit ymca-ywca.org or StandAgainstRacism.org.