In the latest installment of our occasional conversations with Fort Worth newsmakers, Texas Christian University senior Kiaya Johnson discusses plans for the upcoming Take Back the Night rally set for Tuesday and its importance to sexual assault survivors. She also explains the conversations on campus, particularly among women of color, that led to the rally’s creation. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. For the unabridged version, please listen to the audio file attached to this article.

Kristen Barton: Hello everyone, this is Kristen Barton, education reporter at the Fort Worth Report, and I’m here today for a conversation with Kiaya Johnson, a senior at Texas Christian University. She is the president of the Women of Empowerment organization and is organizing a Take Back the Night rally for Tuesday evening. Tell me a little bit about the Take Back the Night rally.

Johnson: Take Back the Night is an event that happens on college campuses around the United States to bring awareness to sexual violence issues and provide an opportunity for survivors and others to share their experiences with violence in a powerful space together. And then usually afterwards, a rally happens, or a march. 

Take Back the Night is usually composed of three different entities. So, it’s the rally portion where people are given the opportunity to speak out about their experiences. The march is basically a walk in solidarity, and in order to build community and things like that for people who may have witnessed the different confessional moments. It’s just a way to build community and camaraderie. There’s also typically a speaking-out portion, and this portion, it sums up the evening. The goal is to basically uplift the voices of survivors. What that may look like is giving survivors the opportunity to speak on a situation where they might not have felt comfortable before.

Barton: Tell me about the logistics of the event. Where is it, what time is it? How can people go?

Johnson: Our event will take place here at TCU. It will take place March 15, that’s this Tuesday at 8 p.m. and we’ll be starting at Frog Fountain. If you’re familiar with the campus, it’ll be located in the Campus Commons. It’ll be recommended if you will be possibly driving a vehicle there, it will be advised to possibly park across the street from the Brown-Lupton building.

Barton: Why do you think events like this and rallies like this are still needed and done at college campuses?

Johnson: For organizations like Women of Empowerment, this is a part of our duty as an org on this campus. Specifically within the Black community on TCU’s campus, we had a community outcry and we had a couple of situations in regards to sexual assault, sexual harassment, happen within our very own community and we did not receive much support from the university in regards to addressing those issues. Our community was pretty much divided and broken. 

And so that’s Women of Empowerment, being an organization that’s geared toward creating a safe space for women of color on campus, we felt as if it was our responsibility to do something. And if you think about a lot of different social change movements and things like that, a lot of those were spearheaded and led by young people, by people our age, people within the 18 to 22 range. Right now, if there’s anything we want to do, we want to do it. If there’s anything that we need to change, we have the resources, we have the community, we have the support to do so. We just have to act on it. 

A lot of times in regards to different situations in regards to sexual assault and sexual harassment, usually when the situation is brought to the forefront, there’s a lot of uproar, but usually it dies down very quickly, and those stories about survivors get swept under the rug.

So, we were like, we need to do something fast. We had an open discussion that was called “sis me too.” It was put in place in order for us to have that conversation about what was going on on campus and how we were feeling and what we wanted to do about it as a community. We took the ideas, and that’s kind of where the introduction to possibly hosting a Take Back the Night took place. It was recommended by a TCU alum and a current grad student. Her name is Shelby Johnson, and she brought forth the idea andm as a community, we kind of just built on it and began to put it into action.

Barton: A big part of these rallies are the survivors coming together to share their stories. What kind of benefit do you think that has to this overall cause and awareness?

Johnson: I think a lot of times in regard to speaking out about things in regard to sexual assault and harassment, a lot of people fear the response from other people. This event in itself is showing survivors that they have a support system. They have a community of people that are not only willing to listen, but also giving them the reclaiming of their strength and their independence and in a sense, even giving them the opportunity to take back some of their power. For a lot of people it’s literally, it’s physically showing them that they do have support and they will be heard.

Barton: Tell me a little bit about the Women of Empowerment organization. Tell me about who y’all are and what y’all do and your purpose.

Johnson: We started out on TCU’s campus in fall of 2019, that’s when we officially became an organization on campus. It was founded by Dominique Cook and she was a year older than I am. I remember coming in as a freshman and her saying basically she had a lot of different experiences as a Black woman on campus that made her feel isolated, or made her feel excluded. She wanted to create an organization that provided a sense of community for women outside of the different realms of sorority life or different skills. 

Usually an organization on campus has a different type of qualification, some type of skill or some type of commonality. She wanted Women of Empowerment to be a space where all women of color can come together and discuss different issues that can actually support and apply to them and their lifestyle, and just being kind of a safe haven for women of color on campus. We’ve been able to host different events around self-care.

We’ve been able to  host events around women’s health and just kind of connected our women on campus to different things in order to explore their sexual freedom but also to do it in a safe way, so providing different resources in regards to different clinics, different resources that we can use to just make a collegiate experience a little bit easier and more enjoyable. And also find this sisterhood in something that we all can pretty much agree upon — and that will be that women need each other and in order for us to make it to this collegiate experience, that it’s okay, and we do have a community that we can lean on and have this discussion to have a place where we can feel our most authentic selves.

Barton: Is there anything else you want people to know about the event on Tuesday?

Johnson: The event is an open event. Anyone is more than welcome to attend. Women of Empowerment wants this event to serve as an example of speaking but understanding that this is the first step in order to create change. For us to gain the exposure that we need on this campus, in order for administration to realize that this is an issue within our community specifically, and just hoping that we can see true change within the administrative side of addressing issues in regards to sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Kristen Barton is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Kristen BartonEducation Reporter

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She has previous experience in education reporting for her hometown paper, the Longview News-Journal and her college paper, The Daily...

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