Race Forward Commemorates 40 Years of Catalyzing the Racial Justice Movement

November 9, 2021

Contact: Maya Boddie
[email protected]


New York, NY --  Race Forward, a leading racial justice nonprofit organization, is celebrating 40 years of catalyzing racial justice. On Thursday, November 18th, at 5 pm ET, Race Forward will host an online gala, which will stream on Facebook and Youtube Live.

Celebrate with Race Forward on November 18th during the FREE event, hosted by Kat Lazo, radio personality for Spotify’s Morning talk show and creator of the Kat Call; and featuring appearances by Gary Delgado, founder of Race Forward; current president of Race Forward Glenn Harris; former president of Race Forward Rinku Sen; and many other leaders, organizers, culture bearers and artists working to advance racial justice.

RSVP here.

Originally founded as The Applied Research Center in 1981 by Gary Delgado, Race Forward is known for its systemic analysis and innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. For four decades, in partnership with community organizers, government, and other organizations, Race Forward has worked to dismantle racial inequities in policies, institutions, structures and systems for the purpose of building a just, multiracial democracy.

“We are excited to commemorate 40 years of centering racial justice and the power of communities of color,” said Glenn Harris, president of Race Forward and publisher of Colorlines. “As we continue to face police violence, a rise in White Nationalism, and a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 650,000 people -- disproportionately Black, Indigenous and Latinx -- we find ourselves in the midst of a Third Reconstruction. Each of our successes has resulted in blow back from the same power structure we’ve been pushing back against for over 400 years. Now, more than ever, we must continue to imagine and build a just, multiracial, democratic society, free from oppression and exploitation, in which people of color thrive with power and purpose. Race Forward is excited to do just that for the next 40 years and beyond.”

When Race Forward was founded, centuries of ingrained systemic racism and segregation were still evident, particularly in the areas of employment, education, housing, and criminal justice. There was a need for an organization that would work with community organizers and provide them with tools and resources to drive change within the institutions and structures that both established these inequities and have allowed them to continue.

In 2017, Race Forward merged with the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), which was founded in 2002 by Maya Wiley and Jocelyn Sargent to catalyze community, government, and other institutions to dismantle structural racial inequity and create equitable outcomes for all.

The new Race Forward was born out of a sense of urgency, opportunity, increased capacity, and a mutual desire for greater alignment and multiplied efforts to deliver on both organizations’ core principles of advancing racial equity and supporting communities most impacted by structural racism.

Some of the groundbreaking work Race Forward has done over the last 40 years includes:

  • In 1998, launched its media publication, Colorlines, which highlighted the role of race and voices of people of color in the daily news cycles--generally ignored by mainstream and even a lot of alternative media at the time.
  • Became home to the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a membership network of local government working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. Today, more than 400 jurisdictions are members of GARE.
  • In November of 2004, Race Forward held its first national conference on race and public policy, later to be named Facing Race. This bi-annual conference has grown to have over 4,000 attendees. Past speakers include Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, pastor and Co-Chair of the Poor People's Campaign, Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo Movement, Michelle Alexander, professor and author of The New Jim Crow, and many other racial justice advocates.
  • Launched in 2011, the Drop the I-Word Campaign challenged news outlets and organizations to eliminate the widespread usage of the inhumane and derogatory word “illegal” in reference to immigrants. The campaign included a Journalist Guide for Covering Immigration, and resulted in the Associated Press, USA Today, Washington Post and New York Times committing to decrease and monitoring the use of the word.
  • Released Shattered Families, also in 2011, the first national investigation exploring the extent to which children in foster care are prevented from uniting with their detained or deported parents and the failures of the child welfare system to adequately work to reunify these families. The report examines the way local, state, and national government can create policies that prevent deportations to stop more family separations.
  • Decade later, under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, more than 5,500 children would be separated from their parents. (As of early this month, 270 families still remain ununited.).
  • Amid the ongoing climate crisis, in 2020, Race Forward released Energy Democracy, a report grounded in the solutions of communities of color to invest in a regenerative economy that sustains our people and our planet. The report provides specific recommendations for how philanthropic partners can invest in local solutions that not only support communities in these regions, but also have ripple effects across the nation.
  • In 2021, Race Forward has continued to counter-narrate attacks on critical race theory (CRT), by launching the H.E.A.L Together (Honest Education Action and Leadership) Initiative, formed to aid in deepening a commitment for honest and high-quality education among school districts; which builds on Race Forward’s #BannedWords Campaign launched in 2020; created to counter the Trump Administration’s attempt to eliminate anti-racist work by banning dialogue, education, and trainings that address systemic racism.
  • Recently released From Seed to Harvest: A Toolkit for Collaborative Racial Equity Strategies, a guide to racial equity practices within community-government collaboration for sustainability and renewable energy policies and programs.
  • In August 2021, contributed $1 million to 14 Black-led community racial justice organizations. The contributions were the result of the generous donations Race Forward received during 2020 due to an increased number of individuals and organizations realizing the importance of working toward change.

Over the past 40 years, Race Forward has been able to build collective power and resources alongside grassroots organizers, cultural leaders, activists, and artists, as well as government partners. In the years to come, Race Forward will continue its work to build a just, multiracial democracy that benefits all people.

RSVP to the 40th anniversary celebration here!