The conversations during the 5Ks for Unity on Saturday in Greensboro and Winston-Salem and over beer afterward will be different than at most runs and races.
"Let's start a good one," says Karmen Bulmer, Little Brother Brewing's director of operations. "Let's start the important ones."
The untimed 3.1-mile run-walks, hosted by Little Brother at LeBauer Park in Greensboro (click here to learn more and sign up) and by Foothills Brewing at its Tasting Room in Winston-Salem (click here), are opportunities for participants to start, or perhaps continue, conversations about race in the United States. The events will support efforts by Durham gym owner Tyrone Irby and his Together We Stand NC movement, which is also involved in 5Ks for Unity on Saturday at breweries in Durham, Carrboro and Charlotte.
"Peaceful demonstration and honest, unfiltered conversations to heighten awareness of systemic racism and injustice to communities of color," Irby's web site states about his movement.
Honest, unfiltered conversations are what Bulmer hopes will emanate from Saturday.
"Him being a gym owner, he's realized that beer and conversations go hand-in-hand," Bulmer says. "Fitness and running seem to go hand-in-hand as well with that; he realizes that we can facilitate those conversations."
The day's schedule, besides running, will include exhibits from the Greensboro History Museum and visits by muralists whose work was displayed during protests last summer and by representatives of AnyTown, a program for high school students that is part of the National Conference for Community and Justice in the Triad.
"My motive has been to make it really interactive," Bulmer says. "Tyrone just wants people to host a day of honest conversation, whatever that means to them. He wants people to just hang out, have a beer and talk. And hopefully talk about those awkward conversations and conversations about racism itself."
The 5K for Unity at LeBauer park is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $20, and half of the entry fee in Greensboro will go to the Gate City's Black Child Development Institute. The other half will pay for the cost of a Together We Stand T-shirt emblazoned on the back with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Runners and walkers at Foothills, at 3800 Kimwell Dr. in Winston-Salem, can participate from noon to 3 p.m., also for $20. The United Way of Forsyth County will receive a portion of proceeds.
"Foothills got involved because having conversations around unity is incredibly important," marketing director Ray Goodrich says. "If we were to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us, we'd be in a lot better shape as a society than we are. If craft beer can help initiate those conversations, then it has an obligation to do so."
Maybe the running is easy; the conversations could be a little less than that. But the hope from organizers is that neither are too daunting. Just that they happen.
"Hopefully not in your face," Bulmer says. "It's going to be more, 'Hey, show up, grab a beer, walk around to the tents, have some conversations, maybe see a piece of art that makes you think and leave that day with a different thought than what you came in with.'"