Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called for 10,000 men to rally with him at City Hall on March 23 to pledge to stop the abuse of women. Although most domestic violence events are spearheaded by women's organizations, this rally is believed to be the first spearheaded by a local male official to call men to action.

"I tell you it's a serious issue. I didn't realize how serious it was," Rawlings told the crowd. "There are some major things happening behind closed doors that we don't know about...We say it's not happening in our house, but it's happening next door. One out of two women in this nation will be hit by a man sometime. One out of two. One out of four women will actually have an abusive relationship sometime in their lifetime."

"You can call a guy who hits a woman a lot of things, but you can't call him a man" said Rawlings. "Men do not hit women. Men do not laugh at jokes about hitting women. Men don't dance to songs about hitting women."

Rainy cold weather had an impact on the turn-out, but still about 5,000 people came to the event, waving towels that advertised an anti-violence training camp and sporting purple ribbons and Dallas Men Against Abuse t-shirts. The crowd included several African American fraternities, Latino organizations, church groups, a motorcycle club, Muslim groups, lesbians and bisexual women, school groups, and boy scouts.

Dallas Cowboy Dez Bryant
Dallas Cowboy Dez Bryant, behind him seated is Brandon Carr. Photo By Starita Smith.

Dallas has seen an increase in the number of homicides in the last year. Homicides of women by their domestic partners were a key contributor to the high number of deaths. Last year, 26 women were killed by their partners. In one of the most talked about cases, a woman who had tried to get a restraining order against her husband was shot to death by him in the parking garage at U.T. Southwestern Medical Center, one of the largest medical facilities in the area, where she worked.

"Each year we have over 13,000 domestic abuse cases," said Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who pointed out that domestic violence is pushing up the Dallas homicide rate. "Domestic violence is our highest priority."

Among the private organizations supporting the rally were T.D. Jakes Ministries, the Dallas Cowboys, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Verizon, the Dr. Phil Show, and the local women's shelters and several local churches. Several speakers said that the rally was only a starting point. There will be new training and counseling programs to combat abuse as well as help for shelters and other resources supported by local and state governments.

Dale Hansen, a longtime TV sportscaster, fired up the crowd when he told a personal story.

"I was seven years old when my mom grabbed me in the middle of the night and dragged me out of the house with her face bleeding because my dad hit her and broke her nose. My dad was the biggest man I've ever known...My old man was biggest, strongest man I have ever known, and he hit my mom. Never had such a big man looked so small in the eyes of a little boy. That's what a man does when he hits a woman. He diminishes the woman, but he diminishes himself even more."

NFL Hall of Famers Roger Staubach and Emmitt Smith as well as current Dallas Cowboys players Brandon Carr and Dez Bryant spoke to the crowd. Bryant, who allegedly had hit his mother (no charges were filed) , acknowledged that he had "made a mistake" while Smith said he was at the rally because he is a father of five.

Rawlings, Emmitt Smith, Texas state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, Roger Staubach.
Rawlings, Emmitt Smith, Texas state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, Roger Staubach. Photo By Starita Smith.

"I have three daughters, and I also have two sons. When you hear the staggering stats that one out of three women will be abused, that means that one of my daughters will be abused at some point in time by somebody. And my sons need to also understand that a man truly is a man when he is able to show discipline and restraint and be able to walk away."

At the end of the rally, the men repeated a five-part pledge against violence. Those points were:

A man never hits a woman.

A man speaks out against domestic abuse. If a man sees something, he says something.

A man holds other guys accountable.

A man teaches his daughters how men should treat them. He teaches his daughters not to be abused.

A man teaches his sons to respect women.

A group from Concord Christian Church
A group from Concord Christian Church. Photo By Starita Smith.

Starita Smith, Ph.D., has been an award-winning journalist at the Gary Post-Tribune, the Columbus Dispatch and the Austin American-Statesman. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.



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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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