YWCA of Tulsa
racial justice and civil rights

Racial Justice and Civil Rights

Committed to eliminating racism in all forms, the YWCA offers training, consulting, advocacy, outreach and education to the Tulsa community. We are dedicated to allying with individuals, organizations and businesses to promote racial equity. Our ever-expanding program slate includes racial justice workshops, caucus discussion groups, the annual Stand Against Racism, an anti-racism organizing collective, and more.

YWCA Tulsa History

YWCA Tulsa has embraced the mission to eliminate racism since our founding.

In 1921, the agency opened a center in north Tulsa to provide housing, food and job training for young African-American women left homeless by the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Following a renewed national commitment to racial justice, including a rebranding campaign in 2004 that placed our hallmark programs front and center in our logo, the YWCA Tulsa board created a Racial Justice committee whose membership included board, staff and community involvement. The volunteer committee developed a number of initiatives, including 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre educator kits and a Racial Justice book club.

We believe it is crucial that students learn about the Tulsa Race Massacre, just as we teach them in developmentally appropriate ways about other tragic events. Yet our research found that the tragedy was taught inconsistently in schools, due to inadequate resources and instructor hesitation. We advocated that the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee select Oklahoma history textbooks that include an accurate account of the Race Massacre. In 2007, we collaborated with the Tulsa City-County Library to create study guides and scholastic kits that include supplemental teaching materials such as a History Channel video on the riot, pictures from the time period, books on the riot, and study guides and lesson plans. Today, the kits are available at Rudisill Library's African-American Resource Center and remain in constant demand. We also collaborated with the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation to continue advocating for a robust curriculum on the massacre, and adequate teacher preparation to teach about this sensitive history.

In 2008 we hired our first Director of Racial Justice to enhance and deepen our racial justice efforts both within the YWCA and in the community. Our program slate has expanded exponentially since and continues to grow each year. We provide safe, accountable spaces to end the silence on racism in our community, empowering individuals with the language, knowledge, skills, and community necessary to become effective anti-racist advocates.


The YWCA stood against 2007's discriminatory HB 1804 anti-immigration bill, as well as Ward Conerly's deceptive 2008 anti-affirmative action initiative.

The YWCA Tulsa's board of directors publicly stood against Oklahoma's House Bill 1804, the state's first immigration legislation that has promoted fear and confusion in the Hispanic community. House Bill 1804, effective November 1, 2007, repeats federal law in restrictions on government benefits and the hiring of undocumented immigrants, but also makes it a state felony to knowingly transport undocumented immigrants.

The law has caused churches, human service agencies, and other nonprofits statewide to question whether or not they are able to provide critical services to immigrants in need. YWCA Tulsa's stance supports comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level to solve problems in the immigration system that complicate the process of becoming a citizen.

The YWCA Tulsa board now has an active Advocacy Committee, which creates an annual advocacy agenda guided by our policy positions, and develops the strategy to fulfill our policy goals.