Elgin Community College will host The Long Red Line, a community effort to support One Billion Rising, a global movement to end rape, violence and oppression against women, on Thursday, Feb. 14. The annual event is held from 10 a.m. to noon in the Building B Jobe Lounge, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin, IL. Admission is free and open to the public.
Now in its seventh year, The Long Red Line is a visual demonstration of solidarity where community members are invited to bring a red scarf or piece of fabric that will be held together by participants—forming one long red line.
People have been bringing scarlet scarves to The Long Red Line demonstration since fall 2013. Vicki Rae Harder-Thorne, The Long Red Line committee chair, event speaker and survivor, brought the idea to the Elgin committee with the notion that scarves tend to represent self-restriction and silence but when held together can symbolize freedom and community members’ connection to one another. The color red was chosen because of its association with blood, vitality, passion, courage, sexuality and aggression.
“I’ve personally found that publically sharing my story of survival has been powerful in breaking the chain of shame and guilt; helping recover dignity, courage and value as a human being, and giving hope to others who may still suffer in silence,” said Harder-Thorne.
Over 100 people attended last year's event. In addition to the forming of the long red line, this year’s event will feature guest speakers: Ana Lalley, Elgin Police Department chief of police; Anna Moeller, Illinois state representative; Rosamaria Martinez, Elgin council member; Traci O’Neal Ellis, executive director of human resources at the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) and activist; Deanna Hynes, sexual assault prevention educator at the Community Crisis Center in Elgin; and more.
To further raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault, a juried art exhibit was curated this year with the current theme: “Rise. Empower. Unite.” The Long Red Line committee envisioned the art exhibit as an opportunity to give a voice to survivors who may struggle to speak of their truth using words.
Twenty-four pieces of chosen artwork will be displayed in the Renner Library Hallway Gallery in Building C from Jan. 14 to Feb. 28, 2019 and can be viewed during regular campus hours.
Individuals who attend the Feb. 14 Long Red Line event are encouraged to wear a red scarf to participate in the demonstration or red clothing in solidarity.
Donations of red scarves or other similar pieces of fabric are being sought for this year’s event. Scarves can be dropped off or mailed to ECC’s Student Life Office, Building B, Room B173, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin. Monetary donations are appreciated and organization sponsorships are available.
The Long Red Line is sponsored by the ECC Student Life Office, the Community Crisis Center, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice, Coalition of Elgin Religious Leaders, Elgin YWCA, American Association of University Women (AAUW), Open Door Health Center of Illinois, Art4Change, Women on the Brink, Elgin Area League of Women Voters, and Kane County National Organization of Women (NOW).