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Photography by J Foster Imagery

“Have a world view… No hate, one love…We stand together” – messages of solidarity, diversity, and inclusion united more than 250 attendees of the American Conference on Diversity 16th annual Diversity Stride 5K on Sunday, June 26, at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ. Walkers of all ages, races, and religions stepped up to take part in the fun-filled day of fundraising and to support the organization’s mission of building just and inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities through awareness, education, and advocacy.

“With the increase of sound bites of bigotry in our society, it is time for us to unite. People of all races, religions, and cultures must tackle every form of hate,” said American Conference on Diversity President and CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley during the opening remarks. “This is a day to stand together in solidarity.”

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DJ TeeRamz set the mood with energizing music, while a Latin-inspired performance by The Kennedy Dancers (above) entertained walkers browsing the exhibitor tables of BASF, City of Jersey City Office of Diversity and Inclusion, GLSEN Central New Jersey, L’Oréal USA, RWJBarnabas Health, The Peace Corps, and Tribeca Pediatrics. Attendees also lined up for glitter tattoos, sat for face painting by Pattysweetcakes, and participated in pre-walk warm-up exercises led by Ted Johnson from Complete Health Network.

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In addition to taking a scenic walk around the Statue of Liberty, participants were able to fill out on-site voter registration forms, share messages of inspiration on the “What Does Diversity Mean to You?” board, write heart-felt letters of solidarity to community members in Orlando, and cast their votes for the annual Hudson County Diversity Stride essay and poster art contest. The Ann Marley Spirit Award and $200 gift card was presented to:

Avery Gotia, an 11th-grade student from Liberty High School

Stardaysha Santos, another gifted 11th grader from James J. Ferris High School, won the grand prize ($100) for her “No Hate” painting and essay that crystalizes our nation’s state of race relations:

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“The artwork I created for this poster has a lot of meaning to me, and I hope it will move others to change their perceptions. I am a light-skinned Hispanic girl with dark-skinned relatives. I’m distraught about the hate between all the races. I hate seeing my darker skinned cousins being labeled. When I look around, I often see groups of people hanging with their own kind and not mixing with other races. Unfortunately, as a society, we naturally and instinctually segregate ourselves. Our sexual differences and the color of our skin are the only things that separate us, but all of us are the same on the inside and that should unite us.”

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Right to left: American Conference on Diversity President & CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley, Ann Marley Spirit Award winner Avery Gotia, Avery’s teacher from Liberty High School, and Jersey City Public Schools Visual Arts Supervisor Ann Marley.

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Funds raised during Diversity Stride have a direct impact on talented leaders of tomorrow such as this, helping to educate, empower, and make youth more employable through the Lead for Diversity (LFD) Institute. Since launching LFD in New Jersey in 1995, the Institute has had more than 3,200 graduates from 120 educational institutions statewide. LFD class of 2016/17 kicks off on July 10 with a summer residential learning experience that includes small group discussions, workshops, and experiential learning activities on ability status, sexual orientation, body image, race, religion, gender, and other diversity-related topics. Designed to build social-awareness, leadership, conflict-resolution, and human-relations skills, the six-day intense learning experience equips delegates to recognize and challenge bias and oppression within their communities. During the week, students are joined by their school advisors and corporate volunteers to create diversity Action Plans that address challenges specific to their schools and/or school districts. Their Action Plans are then implemented throughout the upcoming school year to make positive social change in their schools and communities.

Couldn’t make it to Diversity Stride Walk but want to support our work? There’s still time to make a donation here.

Special thanks to the Diversity Stride volunteers from Brookdale Community College, Rutgers University, and elsewhere as well as the following sponsors and partners: ADP, BASF, Berkeley CollegeFidelity, L’Oréal USA, New Jersey Natural Gas, Provident Bank, PSEG, RWJBarnabas Health, City of Jersey City Office of Diversity and Inclusion, GLSEN Central New Jersey, The Peace Corps, and Inserra ShopRite.

WATCH the video here.

About the American Conference on Diversity

The American Conference on Diversity is dedicated to building just and inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities through awareness, education, and advocacy. The nonprofit organization was founded in 1948 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Today the programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders; enhancing our workplaces; and helping to create inclusive communities. Visit www.AmericanConferenceonDiversity.org to learn more.

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Contact:

Gail Zoppo

Media Relations Consultant

109 Church Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

gail@AmericanConferenceonDiversity.org

732-745-9330