Presbyterians invited to join the Thursdays in Black observance

Presbyterian Week of Action event calls for an end to violence against women

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — According to UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, it’s estimated that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner (not including sexual harassment) at some point in their lives. Some national studies show that up to 70% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

The Human Rights Campaign reports that in 2018, advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. due to fatal violence, the majority of whom were Black transgender women.

Throughout the year Presbyterian Women, Inc. and Presbyterian women have joined the World Council of Churches in Thursdays in Black to protest gender-based violence.

On Thursday, August 27, as a part of the Presbyterian Week of Action‘s BLACKOUT Day, Presbyterians across the country and around the world are urged to wear black in solidarity with both Thursdays in Black and the struggle for Black lives.

“Following an interfaith Conference on Religion and Race, the 1963 General Assembly created the Commission on Religion and Race,” said valerie izumi (who prefers a lower-case name), Assistant Stated Clerk and Coordinator for General Assembly Nominations for  the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s  Office of the General Assembly and one of the individuals working on the Presbyterian Week of Action team.  “The late Rev. Dr. Gayraud Wilmore reflected, ‘I was not present at [that] historic interfaith Conference on Religion and Race but I felt the reverberations … one had a feeling that something momentous was about to happen in the United States of America … The Presbyterian Church is on the move and God is calling you to take leadership.’”

“Sexism, including gender-based violence, cannot be separated from racism,” Izumi said. “Almost 60 years later, God’s call to us to seize the moment is still reverberating. We must take leadership in the charge to end violence against women and the systemic racism and sexism that perpetuate it.”

On Thursday, Presbyterians are encouraged to adopt the following practices recommended by the WCC:

  • Wear black.
  • Wear a pin to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence.
  • Show your respect for women who are resilient in the face of injustice and violence.
  • Encourage others to join.

Additionally, Presbyterians are invited to

  • Read the report and recommendations of the Disparities Experienced by Black Women and Girls Task Force being presented to the 225th General Assembly (2022). The report is here.
  • Advocate for Black women and girls by prioritizing the voices and writings of Black women and girls.
  • Donate to the Katie Cannon Scholarship fund.

“The Thursdays in Black campaign reminds us that often black is used with negative racial connotations,” said Izumi. “They make clear that in the Thursdays in Black campaign, Black is used as a color of resistance and resilience. For me, Black is a color of resistance and resilience even outside of the campaign.”

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