White Ribbon Day Reflections

I barely had time to catch my breath after last week’s White Ribbon Day Proclamation Event before hopping on a train to New York for The Center for Study of Men and Masculinities' International Conference. Riding the four-hour train into Manhattan provided me the perfect opportunity to reflect on that afternoon. Days later, it is even more clear to me that the momentum for this work is building as the inquiries, calls, emails and activity continues.

What a positive statement that hundreds of people – mostly men – from around Massachusetts braved the cold – and, for some, the snow– and came together to reimagine manhood in the effort to prevent violence against women. Many of Jane Doe’s member programs and WRD Affiliates were in attendance in addition to dozens of Senators and Representatives, Councilmen, Mayors, and members of all four branches of the U.S. Military.

Each year we strive to make the program interesting, current and inspiring and to reflect the diversity of voices in this work. A very special Honor Song from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) set the tone for a program that was genuine, diverse in voice and content. Malcolm Astley, of the Lauren Astley Memorial Fund, spoke so eloquently about losing his daughter to dating violence. He reminded us that we must all learn to deal with loss and acknowledge that it hurts to truly care – because each relationship does end whether in break ups or death. Spoken Word Poet, Yevin Roh, performed a piece about experiencing domestic violence from his perspective as the child in the home. It was truly a breathtaking experience. James Arana drilled down to the essential need to connect with one another as an anti-dote to violence. I cheered him on when he challenged everyone to bring not just one but two new people with him to next year’s event! Our Co-Chairs David Sullivan and Peter Roby were masterful Emcees and shared how their own personal and professional experiences have shaped who they are as men and what manhood means to them.

You can view all of these presentations here on our YouTube Channel

A highlight of the day was the debut of our “Reimagine Manhood” public service announcement (PSA) on the big screen for the audience. Watch the :30 second version and the 60 second version.

I was enormously impressed with the youth presence. The young men in attendance are a huge part of the reason we do this work to reimagine what manhood means. We had several volunteers from St John’s Prep and Salem State University; both groups eager to share their support and labor to put on this program. Also, to have had students from Catholic Memorial, Boston College High School, Northeastern University among our strongest presence was a testament to the evolution of this work.

The power of the room became evident as members of the WRD Honorary Committee led the audience in the recitation of the Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Pledge.

Please share these highlights and a link to the photo album with friends and colleagues who may have missed the event. Videos of all the speakers will be shared over the coming weeks!

I thank everyone who has had a hand in making this year’s White Ribbon Day Proclamation event a success. Please review our event program booklet for a list of speakers, sponsors and acknowledgements to familiarize yourselves with some of the many folks involved in putting together such a great afternoon.

The campaign is year round, with local events happening in communities across the Commonwealth. To learn about events taking place near you, look to our calendar online for details.

It’s now been a week and the thank you notes and appreciate messages keep pouring in. With your help we now have 93 WRD Affiliates and 322 WRD Ambassadors (83 newly signed up this year!). I look forward to continuing on this journey with all of you.