While walking through campus last Thursday, my friends and I ran into a group rallying through the rain. Unaware of their cause, we decided to join the march, only wishing to add to the fervor of the crowd.
Pretty soon it became obvious that we had thrust ourselves into the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at one of its final legs of a night of protest against rape and domestic violence, called “Take Back the Night.”
As we continued chanting down the streets, the unity and passion these members touted was unequivocal. And I say we, since right away after linking up with the group one member generously handed us a sign and a list of various sayings, all the while educating us about the event’s objective. After about 10 minutes, the group convened in Kogan Plaza for a candlelight vigil. Even though we had planned to leave once the rally had stopped, we ended up staying for the tail end of an event that had lasted several hours before our brief appearance.
What was most striking about this gathering in Kogan was the unconditional support felt throughout the group. Turns were taken sharing thoughts about the night’s events; we stood in a circle under an awning from the rain and listened to each other. Despite being unfamiliar with the crowd, I met several people who genuinely seemed to care that we had stopped and joined the group to listen. The group members, perceiving our actions, as simple as they were, actually felt gratitude toward us, people who had just made a mere attendance.
But their stories and pain are real, which cannot be forgotten. As one in the group roughly put it, people who see them as bitter protesters on this night are just plainly unaware of the issues. Understanding is one thing I learned from the evening, but even more poignant is the sign of compassion embraced by the group.
To all the participants of “Take Back the Night,” I commend you on your cohesion and hope you find some solace within your compassionate network of which you have built.