We founded a small grassroots organization called Together We Stand NC (TWS) in June 2020. The impetus of the founding was the murder of young Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020, along with several other killings of people of color over the past ten years. The goal of TWS is to initiate and facilitate brave, authentic conversation between races and genders for better understanding and heightened awareness of their daily challenges.
Founder Tyrone Irby wrote an article entitled “A Black Man Living In Durham” that was published in the August 2020 issue of Durham Magazine which was the precursor to founding Together We Stand.
Together We Stand NC uses wearables as our “conversation starters.” As of today, we have released seven conversation starter shirts. Each shirt features our TWS logo (a bull surrounded by the words Together We Stand) on the front and a socially relevant quote on the back. Our first shirt, released in June 2020, featured the MLK Jr. quote “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere” on the back.
In February 2021, we began hosting and organizing virtual rallies across North Carolina. Each of the Together We Stand public rallies is geared to raise awareness and benefit a local socially conscious non profit organization. On February 23rd, for our Maud 2.23 event, we partnered locally with Fleet Feet Durham, to host a virtual 2.23-mile walk/run in remembrance of Arbery. The event registered over 400 runners and the Maud 2.23 shirt was sent to 65 cities in 23 states in the country. Former Olympic athletes Meb Keflezghi and Aliphine Tuliamuk featured the Maud shirt on their social media pages on Feb. 23rd. The virtual event benefited the Durham People’s Alliance and raised $4700 for the on profit norganization. The Maud 2.23 shirt, the first in the series, featured the Nelson Mandela quote, “As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest” on the back.
On July 17, 2021 we hosted the inaugural Unity 5K with five breweries across North Carolina: Divine Barrel of Charlotte, Foothills Brewing of Winston-Salem, Little Brother Brewing of Greensboro, Ponysaurus Brewing of Durham, and Vecino Brewing of Carrboro. The Unity 5K was a live social walk/run followed by conversations of 6 questions posed by Together We Stand for small group discussion. Between the 5 breweries, we registered over 500 participants raising $7,540 for Neighborhood Hope, Black Child Development Institute, United Way of Forsyth County, and Girls on the Run of the Triangle. The Unity 5K shirts featured the MLK Jr. quote “Our Lives Begin to End the Day we Become Silent about Things the Matter” on the back.
In June 2021, prior to the Unity 5K, we partnered with Engine Enterprises (Carrboro) and Incue Productions (Cary) to film a short video entitled Catalyst for Change. The video featured TWS founder Tyrone Irby and 4 representatives from the 5 breweries. The short piece was a primer of the purpose and mission of the Unity 5K and TWS. The video can be viewed on Vimeo under Catalyst for Change and on our website www.togetherwestandnc.com
Our goal is to build a network of engaged persons and businesses with the purpose of creating a sustainable conversation effort to build awareness of the challenges facing people of color and the LBGTQ community. Our view is the conversations must be authentic, engaging, and sustainable to achieve the goals of education and build greater awareness.
In February 2022, we hosted our 2nd Maud 2.23 event in honor of Ahmaud Arbery. The event was held in 8 cities in North Carolina (Charlotte, Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Greensboro, High Point, and Greenville.) Maud 2.23 registered 1271 runners nationwide (830 in North Carolina) and raised over $16,000 for NC charity: Building Hope (Greenville), the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club (Greensboro), RunningWorks (Charlotte) and the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
We launched our Courageous Conversations series at NoDa Brewing in Charlotte in February 2022. During the Courageous Conversation series, we will explore the language of racism. In small groups, we will explore everyday words that often evoke anxiety and misunderstanding and work to come to understanding each other's perspective and personal definitions. It is through listening and learning that transformative change is possible. We hope you will join us to create these brave and meaningful spaces.
In July 2022, we hosted our 2nd annual Unity 5K in the cities of Charlotte, Greensboro, Fayetteville, and Durham. The 4 events welcomed over 300 runners/walkers and raised $4700 for Off Road Outreach (Fayetteville), Bikes for Kids (Greensboro), Young Black Leadership Alliance (Charlotte), and Equality NC (Durham).
This year’s Maud 2.23: Stand Up welcomed 1378 runners and walkers in North Carolina and across the country. The 18 events in seven North Carolina cities raised $17,560 for 5 local charities: North Carolina Community for Justice, Building Hope, RunningWorks, Equality NC, and Porch Durham. The events were hosted in Durham, Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, High Point, Greenville, and Fayetteville. Since 2021, Together We Stand NC has raised over $50,000 for local non-profit organizations.
For more information about Together We Stand visit our website www.togetherwestandnc.com or follow us on Instagram @togetherwestandnc
“We must respect the dignity and worth of every human being.” -John D. Lewis