CHICAGO (CBS) -- It has been nearly 16 years since the two-state shooting spree by a neo-Nazi that left former Northwestern University men's basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong dead. In fact, this is the weekend of the Race Against Hate in Byrdsong's memory.
Police are characterizing the gunman responsible for killing nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, as a "disaffected white supremacist," much the same as Benjamin Nathaniel Smith was when he went on the shooting spree in which he killed Byrdsong and another man, and wounded 10 others in Illinois and Indiana, before he killed himself by crashing his car into a post, and shooting himself in the head and heart, during a high-speed chase with police in Salem, Illinois.
The Evanston/North Shore YWCA oversees the run, which includes runs of 5 and 10 kilometers, a 5K walk and a youth mile.
Evanston YWCA President Karen Singer admits that she is shaken by the Charleston shootings.
"Clearly we have a ways to go here," she said.
The shooting massacre in Charleston tells Singer hate and racism are very much alive.
"We really have to double down on our commitment to work together to eliminate hate and racism in our communities, and that really requires a collective commitment," she said.
Singer said the growing popularity of the "Race Against Hate" encourages her. She said it has attracted more participants each year. On Sunday, more than 5,500 will participate, including the Byrdsong family.
She said the turnout makes it clear many share concern over issues of racism and hate.
"What the race really brings up for our communities is that we have to do it together, and we have to stand united around these critically important issues," she said.
Proceeds from the race go toward the Evanston/North Shore YWCA's violence prevention and racial equity programs.
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