Community members, students to “Take Back the Night”

On Wednesday the 32nd annual Take Back the Night march and rally will be held in Champaign-Urbana as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The event is a collaboration between the Women’s Resource Center at the University and RACES (Rape Advocacy Counseling Educational Services) based in Urbana.

Participants will begin gathering at Lincoln Square in Urbana at 6:30 p.m., and the march will begin at 7 p.m. on the corner of Green and Race Streets. The march will head west down Green St. and end in a rally at 8 p.m. on the Main Quad.

At the rally, speakers will address the crowd and participants will have a chance to share personal stories of sexual violence or read pieces of poetry about sexual assault. This year’s keynote speaker is Salamishah Tillet, co-founder of A Long Walk Home, a Chicago-based organization that aims to end sexual violence against women.

Jennifer Scott, coordinator of sexual assault education at the Women’s Resource Center, said that last year the march and rally gathered around 70 people, but this year hopes for more to join.

Tricia Crowder, primary advocate at RACES said the event is open to every person in the community and hopes that many will come out to show support for Take Back the Night.

“People who participate are not just survivors,” Crowder said. “They’re people that believe we should make steps toward making our community safer against sexual violence.”

Scott explained the message the march and rally hopes to have.

“It’s a symbolic action of people taking back the night in the sense of taking back their safety and taking control of their environment,” Scott said.

Take Back the Night is a rally and public protest against sexual violence. The first official Take Back the Night event took place in Philadelphia in 1975, according to takebackthenight.org. Since then, the initiative has spread all over the world.

Wednesday’s march and rally will mark the 32nd year of Take Back the Night in Champaign-Urbana. Scott also said Tillet would be speaking Thursday at 7 p.m. in Gregory Hall room 319 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.