Who We Are

Rooted in Womanism

Mobilized against Child Sexual Abuse

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.

Percent of Black women who report coercive sexual contact before age 18.

Percent of children (all genders) age 17 and under who report being sexually assaulted.

60% of Black women report coercive sexual contact before age 18.

70% of children (all genders) age 17 and under report being sexually assaulted.

Beyond Our Walls

Children of Combahee not only believes that child sexual abuse is a societal issue, but we believe that it is a theological issue and, in order to end it, we must reckon with the fact that much of child sexual abuse occurs in faith communities. As we work with other thought leaders in the movement to end child sexual abuse, Children of Combahee uses sacred texts, rituals, black history, and black liberation and womanist theologies to bridge the gap between the national movement to end child sexual abuse and Black church communities.


To bridge this gap,

we have five main

objectives for this

project:

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Black churches will also be called to think about the implications of theologies that both endorse and/or deny the prevalence of child sexual abuse. Clergy will be called upon to create innovative sermons that encourage congregants to be more intentional about ending child sexual abuse in their homes and communities.

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Clergy, parents, caregivers and other community members will be provided knowledge and tools for recognizing child sexual abuse, addressing child sexual abuse, and preventing child sexual abuse.

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We will also partner with other organizations and activist groups that do work around sexual violence in the Black church to find areas of overlap and to ensure that children’s voices and narratives are included in all organizing efforts.

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Black churches will be forced to think about how the pulpit can be used as a tool of antirape activism, especially as it pertains to ending child sexual abuse.

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We will host public townhalls in black churches where survivors will be offered space to share their testimonies and find healing in community.

Standing in Solidarity Against Violence

Children of Combahee will create a space and shared language across the church and grassroots anti­rape movements, building a foundation for shared understanding and collective action. When incidents of child sexual abuse occur, congregations will have the tools they need to not succumb to fear and denial, but instead provide healing for survivors and accountability for harm­doers.