For the first time in four years, VALOR welcomed back legislatures, advocates, survivors, and community partners to the California Capitol for our 2023 Denim Day Rally.
With the theme, Equity in Action, speakers and attendees asked the question, “What does it mean to embody equity in action in our work?” Standing over 200 people strong, we created an environment to answer that.
A powerful First Partner of California, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, said, “We are far from powerless. Today, I feel fully the collective power of the community of survivors and allies.” Leaning into her survivorhood, Siebel Newsom, voiced ongoing support for survivors and called for measures to continue to dismantle systems that further harm survivors of sexual assault.
Sexual and domestic violence budget request champion, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, told a moving story of his personal connection to witnessing violence as a child. He recommitting to advocating for $44 million for a holistic, comprehensive approach to preventing and ending cycles of sexual and domestic violence. Community partners, Eric-Morrison Smith, Executive Director for the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, and Michelle Coleman, co-Executive Director of Advocacy and Shelter Services at My Sister’s House and a member of the Culturally Responsive Domestic Violence Network, echoed Jones-Sayer’s calls for funding to prevent and end cycles of sexual and domestic violence. Without this funding, key sexual violence prevention programming across the state will have to start closing down next year. Now, more than ever, is the time for California to truly invest in violence prevention.
Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, dove into the importance of addressing the root causes of sexual violence; rededicating her work in California to end the epidemic of violence. Assemblymember Mia Bonta, standing alongside the ¡Ya Basta! Coalition, lead the crowd in a rolling, “¡Ya Basta!” chant. The ¡Ya Basta! Coalition showed up in full force, over 30 people strong in their red bandanas and ¡Ya Basta! Banners, and carried the chants, “¡Ya Basta!” and “¡Sí se puede!”
The collective strength, voice, and power of all speakers and attendees was heard across the California Capitol. We must continue to lift up the experiences of incarcerated survivors, farmworkers, janitorial workers, leaders of color, students, and so many others. As this movement grows, we all have a duty to put equity into action if we truly want to end sexual violence. Criminalization and punishment will not end sexual violence – or any type of violence.
Prevention works! It is an effective alternative and will ultimately help us achieve a world free from violence.