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Participants march through a residential portion of the Virginia Tech campus during a previous year's Take Back the Night Rally and March. The 2020 event is scheduled for Thursday, March 26, at 7 p.m. starting at the Henderson Lawn Outdoor Stage on College Avenue in downtown Blacksburg.

The week of March 23, Virginia Tech will present two annual events as part of Women’s History Month.

Beginning that Monday, the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech will host Clothesline Project workshops daily through Friday, March 27.

The Clothesline Project is an effort to raise awareness of gender-based violence by creating a visual testimony to its shattering effects and the impact it has on society. Survivors of violence, and friends and families of victims, create shirts emblazoned with direct messages and strong illustrations. The shirts demonstrate the pain and suffering of the survivors, aid in their healing process, and celebrate their strength and courage to overcome the past.

Members of the community are invited to tell their stories by creating their own shirts. Workshop days will be offered the week of March 23 to 27 at the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech, located at 206 Washington St. in Blacksburg. Workshop hours are anytime from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All materials are supplied free of charge.

On Tuesday, March 24, and Wednesday, March 25, shirts will be displayed on the Drillfield at Virginia Tech from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (The rain location will be Squires Student Center.) The shirts are hung side by side on a clothesline, as though the survivors were standing there themselves, bearing witness to the violence that is committed on a daily basis. The shirts are color coded: white for those who have died from violence; yellow or beige for survivors who have been battered or assaulted; red, pink or orange for those raped or sexually assaulted; blue or green for survivors of incest or child sexual abuse; purple or lavender for those attacked because of their sexual orientation; and black for survivors handicapped by violence.

The local Clothesline Project was initiated in 1994 by the Montgomery County chapter of the National Organization for Women. More than 600 shirts made by New River Valley residents are currently on the line. Local sponsors include Montgomery County NOW, the United Feminist Movement, the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech, and the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley. Sponsors encourage the community to view this year’s display.

A related event is the 31st annual Take Back the Night Rally and March, taking place this year on Thursday, March 26, at the Henderson Lawn Outdoor Stage on College Avenue in downtown Blacksburg. (The rain location is the Graduate Life Center Auditorium at Virginia Tech.)

The purpose of this rally and candlelight march is to bring our community together to protest gender-based violence and to promote awareness of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that perpetuate this violence. United Feminist Movement, which organizes this event, encourages everyone to take action to change our society -- one in which many have reason to fear being out alone, particularly at night.

Participants will assemble between 6:30 and 7 p.m. The rally will begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a march through campus and downtown Blacksburg, returning to the Henderson Stage for a closing celebration. The march route is accessible for individuals with mobility limitations (if you are a person needing assistance, please call 231-8041 at least one week in advance).

People of all genders and ages are encouraged to march, either as individuals or as part of a group. Organizations are invited to bring signs or a group banner in support of the event. Each participant is asked to wear a purple ribbon tied with a knot for every friend or family member who has been sexually assaulted. Ribbons will be available at information tables at Take Back the Night as well as each weekday at the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech.

Sponsoring organizations include AdvanceVT; Coalition for Justice; Commission on Student Affairs; Cranwell International Center; Division of Student Affairs; Faculty Senate; Glade Church; Graduate School; Hokie Wellness; HokiePRIDE; Graduate Student Assembly; League of Women Voters of Montgomery County; LGBTQ+ Resource Center; Montgomery County NOW; Office of the Dean of Students; Panhellenic Council; Residence Hall Federation; Sexual Assault and Violence Education by Students (SAVES); Sexual Violence Prevention Council; Student Government Association; United Feminist Movement; VT Engage; Wesley—a United Methodist Campus Ministry; Women’s and Gender Studies Program; Women’s Center at Virginia Tech; Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley; WUVT; and YMCA at Virginia Tech.

Together we will take back the night! For more information about both events, contact Susan Anderson at 231-8041 or anderson@vt.edu.

Submitted by Susan Anderson

Submitted by Susan Anderson

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