Creating Advocates of Change: Racial Justice & Equity

Dr. Sharon Kelly West
Dr. Sharon Kelly West

AARP, ABIPA provide listening platform through webinars to help build racial equity in Asheville.

There has been much talk about the national movement for social justice, anti-racism and inclusion in 2020. However, Rebecca Chaplin believes solutions to these much-debated issues start with listening, learning, and understanding.

“As we witness the protests over racial injustice and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that our nation needs healing,” said Chaplin, associate state director for AARP NC Mountain Region. The question I hear most from non-Blacks is ‘What’s my role to do?’ ‘What can I do to end racial injustice?’”

Taking its cue, AARP NC Mountain Region has partnered with the Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement (ABIPA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of African Americans and all underserved populations, to cosponsor two unique one-hour webinars in the coming weeks. Titled “Creating Advocates of Change: Racial Justice and Equity,” the virtual events will be presented at noon on Thursdays, Aug. 20 and Sept. 3.

“Racial violence and the coronavirus pandemic have had a disproportionate impact on people of color, which is a result of inequality due to a lack of social, economic and political opportunities,” Chaplin continued. “AARP was founded on the premise that ‘What we do, we do for all.’ This is an opportunity to use our voice and resources for the right for all people to live a life of dignity regardless of race, age or income.”

Sophie Dixon
Sophie Dixon

ABIPA will provide speakers—all African American community leaders and Asheville natives—for the webinars. “Essential conversations and action are key in advancing personal and professional advocacy,” said JéWana Grier-McEachin, Executive Director of ABIPA. “The collaborative approach being modeled by AARP and ABIPA in hosting this virtual event is an example of harnessing the power of knowledge to propel institutional policy and individualistic practice.”

On Thursday, August 20, 2020, the webinar will feature an all-female panel that includes Kathey Avery, ABIPA’s director of clinical and community connections; Sophie Dixon, president of the Shiloh Community Association; Dr. Dolly Jenkins-Mullen, Professor Emerita at University of North Carolina Asheville; Libby Kyles, CEO of the YWCA of Asheville; Dr. Sharon West, member of the NC Commission of Public Health.

The programs will provide a historical perspective of the Asheville African American community and address a wide range of issues, including inequitable housing, education, employment, and reforms to the police and judicial and prison systems.

On Thursday, September 3, an all-male lineup will anchor the presentation, offering a different perspective. Those speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Registration for the free seminars can be made at


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