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St. Mary's students look to add marginalized voices to conversations about rape culture

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — St. Mary’s College is looking to open a dialogue on race and rape culture.

Folks on campus are having tough talks in the hopes it will inspire more marginalized voices to join in on the conversation.

Addressing the issue of sexual violence has been a big priority.

Every two years, the college to its students to determine the climate on the issue of sexual assault and harassment.

And as vocal as the women on campus are, a discussion the college hosted Tuesday looked to shine a light on the ones who go unheard.

“I hope that this is the beginning of something bigger here at St. Mary’s,” said student Victoria Ernsberger.

The guest speaker during Tuesday’s discussion spent years researching underrepresented voices throughout the civil rights era.

One name was recently publicized by media mogul Oprah Winfrey during a speech at the 2018 Golden Globes Ceremony.

“it was absolutely incredible,” said historian Danielle McGuire. “By telling Recy Taylor’s story, her message was really that it is marginalized women who remain the most vulnerable in our society.”

A nod from Winfrey might’ve introduced millions, including some in Michiana, to an unsung hero during the 1940s.

Taylor was gang-raped by six white men in Alabama in 1944 but never received justice.

Her tragedy parallels many stories today in the growing #metoo movement against sexual assault.

McGuire’s book, At the Dark End of the Street, addressed the marginalization of voices of color—like Taylor’s—in social movement.

 “Until they get the same kind of protection and attention that women in positions of privilege and power get then all of us, I think, are in danger,” said McGuire. “As a white woman I think it’s my job to make way for those stories and those spaces and to make sure they’re told.”

McGuire shared Taylor’s and other’s stories Tuesday evening at the college.

Students who attend the school say, the campus doesn’t shy away from these tough topics.

“St. Mary’s empowers us so much to give us a voice and really stand up for something that we know is wrong, that we feel really passionate about,” said Ernsberger.

But they also want to ensure all voices are included.

“I feel as though they have been speaking out for a long time and it’s just people are just starting to listen. I’m not sure what’s changed but I’m glad it has because everybody’s story is important,” said student Katie Piscione.

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