Running a Race to Fight Racism: Route Crosses Symbolic Bridge

By Siew, Walden | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 20, 1997 | Go to article overview

Running a Race to Fight Racism: Route Crosses Symbolic Bridge


Siew, Walden, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Sarah Timmons stood in the crowd gathered at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium yesterday morning, ready to cross the Whitney Young Bridge - historically a symbol of the city's racial divide.

"I think it's going to take baby steps to fight racism, and I think this is a baby step," said Ms. Timmons, 22, a Kensington fitness specialist.

A rainbow of more than 350 runners pumped up to prerace, warm-up music and lined up for Cora Masters Barry's 5-kilometer Race Against Racism to raise money for recreation programs for D.C. children.

"African-Americans, Hispanics, whites, Asian-Americans, children. Everybody's here," Mrs. Barry said, noting the spectrum of participants. "The first step is to admit that racism is a problem, and second, to come together to say you care about the problem."

The race path began at RFK, crossed the Whitney Young Bridge, which separates the predominantly poor and black Southeast from the rest of the city. Then runners, walkers and a wheelchair racer circled back to the stadium, where they sprinted or plodded through the final stretch to cheering onlookers.

"Hopefully, what I think the race means is you can bridge the gap of racism, that you can cross the bridge and get to the other side," said Max Salas, 44, of Dupont Circle, a member of Mrs. Barry's Recreation Wish List Committee.

The Whitney Young Bridge is named for the former director of the National Urban League who is often credited with enhancing the organization's profile and increasing its coffers. The Urban League waved the banner of economic empowerment long before it became fashionable in the post-civil rights era.

Mrs. Barry founded the nonprofit committee in 1995 to raise funds to benefit D.C. children and to fight racism.

Mr. Salas, who is Hispanic, said he hoped to use money raised by the group's events to fund soccer programs in the Hispanic community "to help get kids off the streets, off drugs and into sports. …

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