Take Back the Night
History of the Event
Take Back the Night initially was organized to illustrate that women have “historically faced anxiety the anxiety of walking alone at night.”
The first documented Take Back the Night event was in Philadelphia in October 1975. After microbiologist Susan Alexander Speeth was stabbed by a stranger while walking by herself a block from her house, the citizens of Philadelphia rallied together. The first documented international Take Back the Night event was at The International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women on March 4-8, 1976 in Brussels, Belgium. Two-thousand women from over 40 countries attended. Both the Brussels and Philadelphia events featured candlelight processions through the streets.
In Europe, a movement known as Reclaim the Night was born in Rome in 1976 following the Tribunal in Brussels. The Rome movement was fueled by the fact that 16,000 rapes were reported in 1976. West Germany held their first Reclaim the Night event in April 1977, and Leeds, England followed suit in November 1977. The event in Leeds was organized during the time when women were being assaulted and murdered by an unknown perpetrator, and the police advised women to stay indoors at night as a safety precaution. Outraged, the Reclaim the Night event was organized as a response to the reaction of the public and to the murders. In 1981, a man named Peter Sutcliffe, known as “The Yorkshire Ripper” (so named because of the infamous, unsolved Jack the Ripper murders from the late 1800s) was convicted of murdering 13 women and beating seven more.
In 1976, the first march in North America was held in New York. In 1977, Anne Pride used the slogan “Take Back the Night” as the title of a memorial she read in Pittsburgh at an anti-violene rally.
In 2001, Take Back the Night became a charity dedicated to ending sexual violence and supporting survivors. “Take Back the Night” events continue to be held around the world.