Stand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities. This campaign is one part of our larger national strategy to fulfill our mission of eliminating racism. One of the things the Wheeling YWCA will be doing for this year’s Stand Against Racism, will be showcasing & highlighting The Blue Triangle.
1921 was a different time. Wheeling was a segregated city. “Jim Crow” laws designed to keep blacks and whites legally separate, were the law of the land. The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), was not exempt from these so-called “laws”. However, the YWCA was ahead of its time in promoting racial equality. Wheeling’s YWCA sought to extend its protections and advocacy to include African American girls and women. After a contest, the name, “Blue Triangle Branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association,” was chosen – a blue triangle having long been one of the YWCA’s iconic symbols.
The Blue Triangle Branch officially opened on June 21, 1921 on Chapline, later moving to 1035 Chapline, then in 1943, to 108 12th Street.
Among those involved in the founding of this new branch were Mrs. Sarah Robinson, Mrs. Mindel, Mrs. Mary Banks, and Miss Mary L. McMechen.
Miss Escobeda Sarreals was named executive director and began organizing Girl Reserve Clubs at Lincoln School. In addition to Girl Reserve, committees included Young Adult, Education, Interracial and Intercultural, World Service, Leadership Training, Membership, House, Hospitality and Room Registry, Finance, World Fellowship and Y-Teen. Classes included sewing, basketry, manicuring, folk dancing, ukulele, photography, figurine painting, crafts, typing, shorthand, arts, and gym work, dancing for children, tray painting, dressmaking, and bridge.
Wheeling’s YWCA was fully integrated in June 1956 at 1100 Chapline Street.