Teen art exhibit highlights hidden history of YWCA South Hampton Roads' founding

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Posted at 9:38 AM, Feb 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-26 14:21:36-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Local teens used dance, music and spoken word on Saturday to interpret their original works on display at Chrysler Museum of Art.

The works are part of a larger exhibit that debuted on February 22 called "Reckoning our History: The Untold Story of YWCA South Hampton Roads." The exhibit highlights the non-profit's beginnings from Black philanthopist Laura E. Titus and its efforts to empower women and eliminate racism over the last 100 years.

According to Michelle Ellis Young, Chief Executive Officer for the local YWCA chapter, Titus was able to get a charter approved for a YWCA location in Hampton Roads in 1908, but Ellis Young says when she came to the organization last year, she found the listed founding date to be in 1911.

She tells News 3 that's because there were once two area YWCAs; one for Whites and one for Blacks. When the two locations merged in the 1970s, the one YWCA adopted the "White" location's history, even though Titus' location was founded three years prior.

"We can't truly live out who we are until we honor where we've come from," said Ellis Young.

Teens With a Purpose, which aims to empower youth, provided the original paintings in support of the exhibit.

"I was really connected to the story that [Michelle] told us because I can sort of relate myself to that," said artist Jada Murphy, 15.

The Teens With a Purpose exhibit honoring Laura E. Titus runs through March 13.