A women’s group is hosting a virtual relay race to highlight the civil rights movement and help increase Black voter turnout for the 2020 presidential election.
Ten thousand people – of all genders, sexualities and races – are participating in the Womxn Run the Vote virtual relay race that began Monday and runs through Sunday. The event was organized by Run 4 All Women, a New York-based group that empowers women through fitness to be the change they want to see in the world.
“Everyone was invited to participate, but this event is focused on women, specifically women of color,” Alison Désir, who founded the group, told CNN. “Women have the power to transform communities. You often hear when a Black woman votes, the whole community votes, just because of how women tend to be transformational leaders who bring people with them.”
Désir, herself a Black woman, said the race was inspired by the 1977 torch relay, when over 2,000 women ran 2,612 miles across the United States to highlight the movement for women’s rights.
This time, the race will highlight the movement for racial equality. The virtual course takes participants from Atlanta to Washington DC, where they’ll stop at key sites along the way to learn about the civil rights movement.
For example, at the 580-mile mark, runners will find themselves at the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, which commemorates protests that helped put an end to school segregation.
The race includes 667 teams of 15 to 20 people apiece, with each team completing the 680 virtual miles. Participants can choose from more than 75 activities, including running, cycling, gardening, or strength training, which they can complete wherever they are in the county.
Participants log their miles on Racery, an online race platform that tracks progress and shows them the civil rights sites they reach.
Run 4 All Women made the relay race virtual to ensure that it’s accessible and inclusive to all people, as well to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. The “x” in the event’s name symbolizes its inclusivity, Désir said.
The race has raised more than $260,000, with a portion of the proceeds going to Black Voters Matter, which works to increase voter registration and advocates for policies to expand voting rights and access in predominantly Black communities.
“Not only are we excited, but we are so inspired that these women were able to put on their sneakers and run to raise money for our work which will help with voter registration and voter mobilization in the next few weeks,” Black Voters Matter founder LaTosha Brown told CNN.
“The love these women have showed us why we need more women in leadership. Women are going to lead the way and transform our country.”