“Black Man Running” on WUNC radio
Narrative Arts staff members Rend Smith (far right in above picture) and Martha Foye were interviewed by WUNC radio about our “Black Man Running” (BMR) project. BMR addresses race and public space in our home base of Wilmington, North Carolina, and aspires to create a dynamic social justice movement through the power of movement. BMR has weekly running groups, and a big run on March 11th!
“I got the wristbands, and threw a towel around my neck. I got the right jogging pants,” BMR co-organizer Rend tells The State of Things host Frank Stasio. “And I assumed that this kind of costume would grant me safe passage through my neighborhood. I started getting different reactions in a predominantly white neighborhood, that ultimately culminated in one woman just absolutely panicking at the site of me running toward her.” She dropped her groceries and bolted.
Rend says that he’s not alone in this experience. A black man running in down the street or in a park is a socially charged phenomenon. As Rend discusses with WUNC, his personal experience is tied to larger social issues — the health of African Americans and the fear many others have of black people in public space.
BMR encourages people of all races and genders and backgrounds to participate, as a way to address racism from a broad base. To help spark that conversation, Rend decided to begin the group’s weekly Monday evening runs in Wilmington’s Hugh MacRae Park – named after a segregationist who donated the land for the use of “white citizens” only.
Also on the WUNC program were Narrative Arts’ running coach and staff member Martha Foye, University of Maryland sociologist Rashawn Ray, and Black Girls RUN! co-founder Toni Carey.
Martha tells WUNC that she got involved in the project to increase the visibility of black runners, which would be a form of protest. She also talks about the challenges African Americans face when trying to get and stay fit — and the importance of making a personal commitment to health.
Listen to the whole program on WUNC’s website.
And visit the Free Movement Project website and Facebook page — the umbrella for the BMR project. You can register for the next Black Man, Running run in Wilmington, NC on March 11th, 2017!