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YWCA collaborates with Drums Up, Guns Down for upcoming Race Against Racism event

The two organizations are preparing to welcome the community to an event that will provide a space for open conversation.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Two organizations from East Tennessee, YWCA and Drums Up, Guns Down, are coming together for Diversity Day. 

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported the leading motivation to commit a hate crime is race. Having a glimpse inside YWCA's past events hypes the energy in Knoxville and YWCA's Director of Communications Ally Slavick said it's her favorite. 

"The Diversity Day and Race Against Racism is electric," she said.  

The nonprofit has been serving the community for over a century. 

"YWCA is on a mission to eliminate racism and empower women and promote peace, justice freedom and dignity for all," Slavick said. 

She said the day of the event is not a coincidence and that there is a goal. 

“Very specifically, because it's right before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day... it's a great way for people to come out and have conversations together in a very comfortable and safe environment and really celebrate one another.”

The director and founder of Drums Up, Guns Down, Obayana Ajanaku, said he started the organization to help kids express their feelings.  

"[It's] also to be able to heal from past and present traumas," he said. "And [you can] use your drama as a tool to try to at least curb gun violence in our community just come up with a solution.”

Trevonte Walker, who lost a friend from gun violence, explains how he sees the organization and what it means to him. 

"It's like a way of expressing yourself... making music by expressing yourself through music." 

The ultimate goal of the Race Against Racism event is to give a voice to all those who have been underrepresented, according to Slavick. 

YWCA will host the event Saturday, Jan. 14. You can learn more about the event at ywcaknox.com/therace

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