As the former director of racial and social justice at the YWCA in Baton Rouge, Roberta Madden has spent her professional career trying to eliminate racism and empower women. Since retiring to Black Mountain in fall 2009, she’s continued to champion these causes. Over the last six years she and group of volunteers have brought the YWCA initiative “Stand Against Racism” to the residents of Western North Carolina.
This Sunday, May 1, at 2:30 p.m. at the White Horse Black Mountain, a panel discussion on overcoming obstacles to end racism will be held by singer Kat Williams, the Rev. Hilario Cisneros of La Capilla de Santa Maria in Hendersonville, noted musician, author and speaker David LaMotte and Mike Czeczot, former senior managing editor of Daytona Beach News. Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger, who was instrumental in creating an online database of slave ownership in the region, will moderate the event.
Madden hopes the two-hour panel will help people better understand the issues surrounding racism. “Some folks think [racism] is not a problem any more. But it is,” she says. “It’s a very serious problem. It’s harder for white people to focus on it. I think black people and other people of color live with it everyday. But for white people, they think, ‘Well, how does this really effect me? I’m not a Klan member; I’m not a bad person. I don’t understand it.’”
Interspersed in the discussion, Williams will sing. Since committing to a musical career in 1998, the Emmy-nominated, Asheville-based singer has been compared to legends Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Coco Taylor, Mavis Staples, Etta James and Tryon’s Nina Simone.
With the addition of Williams’ involvement, Madden views this year’s program as a bit more ambitious than those of previous years. The message, however, remains the same. “As the YWCA says, racism hurts everyone,” Madden explains. “And so we’re going to explore that.”
The event starts at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10/ $8 children.
Advance tickets available online at: www.whitehorseblackmountain.com