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In the heart of spring, as the Kentucky Derby adorns itself for its 150th run, a parallel celebration of equal significance unfolds – Derby Diversity Week (DDW). This event, conceived to bridge gaps and champion inclusion, epitomizes the spirit of unity, perseverance, and communal resilience.


This year, DDW underscores the importance of gratitude, thoughtfully limiting ticket sales not as a restriction but as a sincere act of appreciation, honoring the myriad of supporters who have been pivotal in its evolution and public esteem. Reflecting on this sentiment, our founder, Tawana Bain, expressed, "Never in my wildest dreams did I envision us reaching year seven. It is the generosity of our supporters, those who have stood with us and contributed to our mission, that empowers us to ascend and push forward." This intentional shift toward gratitude goes beyond mere thanks; it represents a pledge to foster a network of allies and advocates, strengthening a community dedicated lifting us up and believing in our purpose. 


DDW's narrative intertwines with the compelling story of its creator, a visionary whose renewal of inspiration, following a profound personal loss of her sister Veronica Bain Derby in 2019, spurred a commitment to amplify hope and unity. This odyssey is not merely the chronicle of an event's origin but also honors a cherished sister, whose life's decisions reflected the core values of inclusivity and bravery. Her memory, entwined with the historic achievements of Black jockeys in horse racing, propels DDW's aim – to acknowledge the past and forge a future where diversity is not merely recognized but exalted.


As we commemorate DDW's seventh anniversary, we acknowledge it as the Year of Completion – a term imbued with symbolism and anticipation of change. This milestone represents not just another iteration of the event but a promise of growth and a tribute to those who have significantly contributed to its narrative.


The theme of this year, "Tapping into Innovation and Securing Investment," reflects a forward-thinking approach, recognizing the critical role of innovation in driving economic impact and social change. Through immersive cultural experiences and high-level business conversations, DDW aims to showcase the collective strengths of diverse communities, including women, LGBTQIA+, Latin Hispanic, and Black individuals, offering a platform for visibility, investment, and growth.


Choosing the Black Jockeys Lounge as the backdrop for this year's conference is a tribute to the pioneering Black jockeys whose legacy in horse racing is a story of excellence overshadowed by systemic barriers. This setting serves not only as a reminder of the past but as a space for creating new opportunities and celebrating diversity in its myriad forms.


As we look forward to the seventh Derby Diversity Week, coinciding with a landmark Kentucky Derby, we are reminded of the enduring spirit of those who have paved the way for change. The vision that once seemed insurmountable stands today as a testament to the belief that when God ordains a plan, it will flourish despite resistance.


“Endorsing meritocracy means recognizing the unequal starting points dictated by history. To address the setbacks of systemic bias, we must provide additional backing and chances for those left behind. This approach does not give unwarranted favor; rather, it corrects the historical imbalances. Meritocracy, in its truest form, can be realized only when all individuals, regardless of race or background, are given an equitable opportunity to excel based on their capabilities, dedication, and societal contributions,” shared Tawana.


In remembrance of Veronica Bain Derby, and embracing the aspirations of all those who champion meritocracy, we move forward with Derby Diversity Week. As we revel in this time of celebration, enlightenment, and fellowship, we look ahead with hope, eager to embrace innovation, secure investment, and cultivate a legacy that spans generations.


Join us for a fusion of cultural experiences showcasing history and tradition, engaging dialogues, and a celebration of diversity.

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