Thursdays In Black: Why it Matters

people in front of the tapestry for Thursdays in Black
Above is a photograph of people dressed in black in front of the “Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance” tapestry by Janine Marja.
Photographs provided by the Rev'd Cynthia Haines-Turner

I first heard of wearing black on Thursdays when I was a partner from the Anglican Church of Canada to the National Church Council of the Evangelical Church in Canada. Along with wearing black, there were badges which said: Towards a world without rape and violence: THURSDAYS IN BLACK, World Council of Churches (WCC). It grew out of the WCC Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998) as more and more stories were shared about rape as a weapon of war, gender injustice, abuse, and violence. According to the WCC website, this is what it’s about: “In every country, gender-based violence is a tragic reality. This violence is frequently hidden, and victims are often silent, fearing stigma and further violence. We all have a responsibility to speak out against violence, to ensure that women and men, boys and girls, are safe from rape and violence in homes, schools, work, streets – in all places in our societies. The campaign is simple but profound. Wear black on Thursdays. Wear a pin to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence. Show your respect for women who are resilient in the face of injustice and violence. Encourage others to join you. Often black has been used with negative racial connotations. In this campaign Black is used as a colour of resistance and resilience.” Sometimes I would remember to wear black on Thursdays if I was going to be at work or in a meeting; sometimes I wouldn’t. 

Thursdays in Black pinFast forward to the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches from the 31st August to September 8th. I was a delegate from the Anglican Church of Canada and attended the pre- Assembly entitled The Just Community of Women and Men. Prior to the Assembly, women from around the world prepared panels for what would be a waterfall of witness. Again the website describes the emotions the Brazilian artist Janine Marja Schneider brought to her project, the “Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance” tapestry. “On one hand, she’s inspired to bring the stories of women from around the world to life on the colourful blocks that cascade downward like liquid. On the other hand, with every stitch, she more deeply absorbs what brings these women together: it’s what they’ve survived.” The tapestry was a powerful visual depiction of the stories of courage and resistance, and hope, in every part of this globe. No longer is Thursdays in Black called a campaign: now it was called a movement. It’s a movement because globally women and men are mobilizing to lift up those voices, to tell the stories and to engage in resistance to gender based violence and to work toward its elimination. It is a movement of the Spirit as it affirms the inherent dignity of every human being. A brief video about Thursdays in Black is found here: 

It’s not sometimes anymore that I remember, it’s every Thursday, and whenever it is possible, I wear black.

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