DSVS Vision: Peaceful, thriving, powerful communities where all people are safe and free from oppression, fear, and violence.
DFS Equity Impact Statement: “The Department of Family Services (DFS) is committed to addressing institutional racism in its core responsibility to support the safety, health, and wellness of county residents. DFS recognizes systemic oppression and institutional racism have contributed to disparities in opportunities for county residents to succeed. DFS will support equitable outcomes by examining its policies, practices, and procedures to eliminate disparities in service delivery and outcomes for county residents.”
In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History founded Negro History Week to promote the inclusion of major figures, events, and movements of Black and African American history in education, and to teach Black and African Americans of all ages about their history and the movement against racial injustice.
In the early 1970s, college and university groups expanded the week into the event we now know as Black History Month, which became a nationally recognized event in 1976 to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Ida B Wells (1862–1931) was a civil rights activist, suffragist, and journalist who spoke out against lynching and false accusations of sexual violence leading to the lynching of Black men.
“Not only is it true that many of the alleged cases of rape against the Negro are like the foregoing, but the same crime committed by white men against Negro women and girls is never punished by mob or the law.”
Maya Angelou (1928–2014) was an author, poet, and activist who experienced sexual abuse as a child. In her famous memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou talks about how disclosing the abuse impacted her childhood.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
Marsha P. Johnson (1945–1992) was an LGBTQ anti-violence and HIV/AIDS activist in what was then known as the Gay Liberation Movement. She co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an advocacy organization committed to direct action and shelter for queer and transgender youth. She was also a survivor of sexual assault as a teenager and fought to end violence of all kinds toward LGBTQ people.
“No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.”
Current Day Activism
Tarana Burke is an activist and public speaker who founded the #MeToo movement in 2006 to address the impact of sexual violence on women with marginalized identities. She began this movement 11 years before the #MeToo hashtag went viral on social media and continues to advocate for survivors with identities that are underrepresented in conversations about sexual violence.
“If we don’t center the voices of marginalized people, we’re doing the wrong work.”
Janet Mock is a published author, Emmy Award nominee, model, transgender rights and anti-violence advocate, and survivor of sexual violence.
“This pervasive idea that trans women deserve violence needs to be abolished. It’s a socially sanctioned practice of blaming the victim. We must begin blaming our culture, which stigmatizes, demeans, and strips trans women of their humanity.”
Tony Porter is a published author, activist, educator, and the CEO of A Call To Men and advocates for transforming cultural norms and messages around manhood and masculinity to prevent gender-based violence.
“As men we have been taught that domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of violence against women and girls is a women’s issue, resulting in us spending very little time, if any, addressing it.”
Members of Black and African American communities are disproportionately impacted by sexual and domestic violence. This is related to systemic violence and oppression of racism and power dynamics, which date back to enslavement of African people in the United States.
Today, according to the CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 5 Black/African American women experience sexual assault over the course of their lifetime, and nearly 1 in 10 experience sexual assault before the age of 18. Additionally, 45% of Black/African American women and 40% of Black/African men have experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime, and 1 in 2 homicides of Black/African American women are related to intimate partner violence.
- Ujima: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community
- Black Women’s Blueprint
- Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance Black History Month Resource List