For Immediate Release: October 3, 2016
NEW INITIATIVE TO END CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN BLACK CHURCH COMMUNITIES TO HOLD FIRST TOWN HALL IN BROOKLYN
Brooklyn, NY, October 29, 2016—Children of Combahee will hold its first town hall on child sexual abuse in Black churches, “From Pew to Pulpit: Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Speak”, at the Concord Baptist Church of Christ, 833 Gardner C. Taylor Boulevard. It is free and open to the public.
The town hall is part of a bi-annual, national series addressing the epidemic of child sexual assault, rape, and incest in black church communities. “From Pew to Pulpit” is the first of its kind in the nation to focus explicitly on the sexual violations that black children face in and with proximity to communities of faith.
According to an ongoing survey conducted by Black Women’s Blueprint, 60% of Black women and girls report having been raped before the age of 18, and several national statistics show that 1 in 6 boys are victims of sexual violence. Yet, the Black church, which generally assumes a prominent role in addressing the problems facing Black communities, has done little to engage this nationwide epidemic. Not only do Black children face structural inequality, state-sanctioned violence, disproportionate and racist policing, inadequate school systems, and a lack of resources, but these everyday realities are exacerbated by sexual abuse in their homes, schools, and churches.
In the era of Black Lives Matter, it is imperative that the Black church play a more pronounced role in the liberation of Black communities from all structural violences, especially the violence of child sexual assault. As Children of Combahee advisor Sevonna Brown writes, “It is easy for us to call out the oppressors outside of our communities, but difficult to address the harm-doers that bring years of silence, shame, vulnerability, and bondage to our families and community space.” Unless Black children and their bodies are free from violence, Black communities as a whole can never be.
“From Pew to Pulpit” will be a moving, transformative, and healing event. During the town hall, survivors of child sexual abuse will have the opportunity to give their testimony, and representatives from Black faith communities will be there to offer an acknowledgment. Through discussion, prayer, and processes of accountability we will begin reconciliation and create the necessary next steps to address the problem of child sexual assault in faith communities.
“From Pew to Pulpit” builds upon scholarship and activism done by womanist, black liberation, and queer theologians, and anti-rape freedom fighters and thought leaders to unearth restoration, accountability, and justice for our children as well as adults who were violated as children. Please stand with us as we collectively cry aloud and spare not and lift up our voices as trumpets against this evil. The time is now.
About Children of Combahee:
Children of Combahee is a newly founded project, funded by the Just Beginnings Collaborative, that mobilizes against child sexual abuse in Black churches using womanist pastoral and theological methods.
Named after Harriet Tubman’s 1863 Combahee River Raid, and the 1970s radical black feminist organization of survivoractivists (the Combahee River Collective), this project builds on a longstanding legacy of resistance, healing, and communal reckoning around issues of racial, sexual, and gendered violence in black communities.
Award-winning author Toni Morrison writes in her newest book, God Help the Child, “What you do to children matters. And they may never forget it.” Children of Combahee acknowledges the value in children’s lives. We center the abuse that children face at the forefront of our efforts to end sexual violence. Statistically, most adult survivors of sexual violence experienced these same violations as children or teenagers.
Just Beginnings Collaborative; The Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn; Black Women’s Blueprint; Columbia University’s Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice; Children’s Defense Fund-NY; African American Policy Forum.