“Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change.” – Barbara Mikulski
One February day in 1960, four African-American college students sat down at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro and refused to move after they were denied service. This peaceful challenge to racial inequality attracted national attention and sparked similar movements in nearby cities, including Winston-Salem. Groups of students from Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State Teacher’s College (now Winston-Salem State University) held a sit-in only one week after the famous Greensboro protest. Twenty-one students were arrested that day, both white and black. This non-violent demonstration, along with other local efforts, led to the desegregation of Winston-Salem’s restaurants and lunch counters that same year. It took many individuals working together with a common vision to tackle a big problem and change a flawed system – none of them could have made the same impact alone.
What happened at Woolworth’s was a simple gesture that required great courage. These college students were advocates for an ideal they believed in and people they wanted to support. The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem believes that everyone can participate in advocacy; it can mean something as simple as showing up at the polls to vote or as engaging as speaking with and writing letters to legislators for legislative change at the local, state, or national level. Your advocacy efforts may not look like the Woolworth’s sit-ins, but the passion for social justice is the same.
In official terms, advocacy is “the active support of an idea or cause expressed through strategies and methods that influence the opinions and decisions of people and organizations.” In simple terms, advocacy is standing up for the things you value. If you participate in the PTA at your child’s school, you are an advocate for the school and those children. If you make an effort to shop local, you are an advocate for small businesses and the economic health of your community. The list goes on and on, but the point is this – you are already participating in advocacy because you care about something.
So whom or what are you an advocate for? The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem’s mission is to improve the lives of women and girls by building a community of female philanthropists who provide grants to local programs, and initiatives that address the root causes of social issues impacting the women and girls in Forsyth County. Did you know that 44% of female-headed households in Forsyth County live below the poverty line? If you share our concern for the economic security of women and girls, we hope you’ll join us. As the Woolworth’s sit-in story reminds us, “Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change.” Let’s make change together.
To learn more about The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @womensfundws.