"March, Rally to Fight Rape" - WE DID IT!!!!!!!! a big thanks from durham!
Sue Stock, Staff Writer DURHAM - In the city where sexual assault charges against three Duke lacrosse players became a national sensation, protesters gathered Saturday to decry sexual violence. The event, called the National Day of Truthtelling, drew people from the Triangle and beyond for a march, rally and afternoon of educational programs.Organizers were quick to say that the event was not a response to this month's dismissal of charges against the three lacrosse players. But the case provided an undercurrent for the event, which included a stop at the home where an escort service dancer who was later discredited reported being gang-raped during a team party.
"We can take the energy around this case and we can heighten the silence around sexual violence, or we can push to break that silence," said Emily Chavez, a member of Ubuntu, one of the nine groups that pulled the event together. Ubuntu is led by women of color, most of whom have been victims of sexual violence.The marchers began at E.K. Powe Elementary School on Ninth Street and wound their way through the streets, led by a percussion group. Participants carried bright signs and banners with slogans, including "We still believe survivors" and "End rape culture."
Others carried orange, yellow and green signs bearing African symbols from the Ivory Coast that represent the ideas of perseverance, strength and learning from one's past.Brunch patrons outside Elmo's Diner on Ninth Street came to the curb to see what the commotion was about. Volunteer Manju Rajendran ran back and forth across the street handing out fliers explaining the march to onlookers and stopped drivers.
"We just heard the noise," Carrboro resident Jeanne Bishop said. "It's wonderful. They made a statement today, sure did."About halfway through the march, the procession paused in front of 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. -- the house where the lacrosse team held its party and in which Crystal Gail Mangum reported being raped.
Durham resident and Duke doctoral student Alexis Pauline Gumbs read an open letter called "Wishful Thinking" addressed to the university's black women. In it, Gumbs spoke of the pain shared by sexual violence victims, along with some specifics of the Duke case. "No camera waits to amplify your pain," she said. "There is no law anywhere that depends on your silence."From Buchanan Boulevard, the march proceeded to the Durham County Courthouse for the rally. Serena Sebring, also of Ubuntu, asked audience members to raise their hands if they or someone they love had been a victim of sexual violence. Nearly everyone in the audience did.
"Look around you," she said. "This is the reality. This is who sexual violence affects. This is why we must speak."From the courthouse, the group marched to the W.D. Hill Recreation Center for more afternoon sessions and performances.
Though the Duke lacrosse case was on the minds of many throughout the day, participants tried to avoid defining the protest by that one case.Even for groups such as Ubuntu, which was formed in March 2006 in the aftermath of the Duke lacrosse case, the event was about healing, speaking out and feeling safe.
"I live two blocks from where that house is," Gumbs said. "Trauma is triggered from where we live. We thought it was really important to reclaim our community."