Community Marches to ‘Take Back the Night’
“To the survivors in the room, I hope you know you are loved.”
Take Back the Night (TBTN) began with more words like these Wednesday night in the Kirby Rafters. Organizers spoke to the crowded room before heading to the streets to march in awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault.
“We gather in support of domestic violence (victims),” said the MC for the night and Director of Diversity and Inclusion at UMD, Susana Pelayo-Woodward. “(We have) A public forum to heal victims.”
Take Back the Night has a strong history beginning in 1973 in San Francisco, according to their website. Now they are a nationwide organization dedicated to eliminating sexual and domestic violence in all forms.
Safety was the message for the night. Attendees were constantly reminded that it was a safe event and trigger warnings began each speech.
“We want you to feel safe and join us as you are able,” said Women’s Resource and Action Center intern (WRAC), Jen McCauley.
The event began with a resource fair and gathering. Safe Haven, Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA), Feminist Consciousness United and WRAC were a few organizations there to provide information to the public as well as support and resources to victims.
Following the gathering there was rally and march, then the event ended with a speakout. The march was one of the biggest events of the night.
“You are here to take back the night. You cannot be timid and you cannot be quiet,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said.
The crowd of over 100 was neither of those things.
The march went along W. St. Marie Street and Woodland Ave. It was complete with hand-made signs and melodic chants. One chant rung, “We’re here to take back the night, our body, our lives. We will not be compromised.”
“The march is to reclaim the streets,” said UMD Women’s Studies instructor and TBTN organizer, Lexie Generous. “The speak out is for folks to speak their truths.”
“We’re going to demand back our campus,” Generous said.
Generous said college campuses get a lot of attention for sexual assault issues. Bringing an event like this to a college campus is an opportunity for that campus and the community to come together, according to Generous. It creates dialogue on the topic.
The dialogue was well-received. At least for one UMD junior and TBTN first-timer Madison Brabender. Brabender was required to attend for a women’s studies class.
“I’m glad it was required,” Brabender said. “I think before I came I had a preconceived notion of what I thought it was going to be and I think by going I am able to be more excited. I learned a lot from that experience.”
“I felt empowered,” Brabender said.
“We take back the night because it’s ours.”
- Susana Pelayo - Woodward