R4R’s race is billed as a rewarding way for families, friends, neighbors and colleagues to make a lasting impact on their community in the spirit of Dr. King’s vision. (Courtesy photo)

The second annual Race 4 Reconciliation (R4R) will be Monday (Jan. 16) at 11 a.m. at AutoZone Park.

R4R is a community-focused event on MLK Day designed to showcase that the dream of unity is alive in Memphis. It is a gathering of people from all walks of life sharing goodwill and love for their neighbors.

R4R is on a mission to provide healing from the past, honor in the present and hope for the future through 5K and one-mile races. The event raises funds for local nonprofits that focus on literacy, vocational skills training, career and leadership development, and historical education on racial injustices.

Karin Conlee, executive director, said R4R isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, but rather connect the resources to the people who are already succeeding in tackling the various issues facing our city.”

Lorenzo Herman, an event sponsor, said, “2022 was rough for the image of Memphis. There was a cloud of gloom with all the attention focused on the crime…This event gives us, all of us, the power to reclaim the headlines and show that Memphis is indeed the most unified city in America.”

Building off the success of the inaugural event in 2022, R4R has seen an influx of support from both corporate sponsors and local grassroots organizations. 

This year, the 2023 city partners are the National Civil Rights Museum; Leadership Empowerment Center, led by Innovation Church Pastor Marron Thomas; Peer Power Foundation, led by Cortney Richardson, and Memphis Soul Prize.

Additionally, R4R partnered with the University of Memphis and LeMoyne-Owen College and opened the event to faculty and students for free. 

Dr. King popularized the notion of the “Beloved Community,” envisioning the concept as a society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love of one’s fellow human beings. 

Fundamental to the concept of the Beloved Community is inclusiveness, both economic and social.

R4R’s race is a rewarding way for families, friends, neighbors and colleagues to make a lasting impact on their community in the spirit of Dr. King’s vision.

“We want to encourage business, education and religious institutions, as well as individuals, from across Tennessee to get involved in the 5K run/walk and one-mile family fun run,” said Conlee. 

R4R’s request is a humble yet powerful one: “We are asking for your heart and your presence.”

The nonprofit organization has three key values: Inspire people to prove love works, build a movement of unity and partner together to educate and elevate all people.

Through these foundational building blocks, Race for Reconciliation’s races are set to transform Memphis.

Following the awards ceremony, there will be food and fun for the entire family.