CHARLOTTE – A Charlotte native has created a virtual running event to bring people together in the fight against racial equality and social justice.
United We Run starts on July 18 and benefits the American Civil Liberties Union. Unlike a traditional fundraising race, participants run on their own, at a date and time of their choosing and in any location they want. They can choose between a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon.
Registration costs $15 and 100% of proceeds will be donated to the ACLU to support their fight for social justice and equality through legislation, litigation and other avenues.
The idea came from Gabrielle Gorman, a University of South Carolina law student who grew up in Charlotte. Gorman created United We Run after learning about George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who recently died at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.
“There’s two Americas for people and it’s not fair, and I think it’s finally coming to light right now more than ever,” Gorman said. “I wanted to do something that actually makes a difference, even if it’s a small difference.”
While there are many ways to fight acts of injustice against black Americans, Gorman thought a virtual run would be something different. Plus, as an avid marathon runner, she knows the community of runners is strong.
“When you’re running, you’re literally running forward to reach a goal,” she said. “This is a first step of many to change the way things are in America and I think it’s really cool that you can actually take a physical step forward in the right direction.”
Before heading to USC, Gorman studied political science and social and economic justice at UNC-Chapel Hill. She said it’s her dream to one day work for the ACLU or Southern Poverty Law Center.
Her initial goal for United We Run was for 25 people to sign up and to raise a few hundred dollars while bringing people together through running. To her surprise, more than 60 people from nine states signed up in the first 24 hours. On June 1, registration had grown to 90 people from 12 states.
“Every time I look at my phone, I see more and more people are registering,” Gorman said. “The fact that so many people have already signed up shows there’s a lot of people that believe in a kinder world and want to do something about it.”
United We Run is not a politically driven event because equality isn’t political, Gorman said. Instead, she hopes the run encourages people to do better, speak up and be part of the solution.
“It’s 2020 and we shouldn’t still have to be fighting for basic human rights –\ we should have equality. We are fighting because of George Floyd, Amaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin and the countless others who deserve justice,” Gorman said. “If anyone doesn’t think there is a serious problem in America, then they need to reflect on their own privilege and remember that [as human right activist Desmond Tutu said] ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’”
Want to participate?
Visit www.unitedwerun2020.org to join the virtual run on July 18. Registration costs $15. Share your race picture on social media using the hashtag #UnitedWeRun2020.