I’d like to spend my last few posts recognizing some of the greatest influences that inspires me to be an advocate for social justice. I’d like to take this opportunity to shed light on someone near and dear to so many men and women of my community – Jana Mackey.
This one carries a trigger and a tissue warning.
Jana Mackey was a graduate of my school, The University of Kansas, with a degree in Women’s Studies and went on to attend the School of Law. She was a robust advocate for women’s rights and volunteered much of her time to working with sexual assault and domestic violence centers here in Lawrence. She was a member of the Commission on the Status of Women, which I currently have the opportunity of heading in the shadows of so many inspirational women… but Jana stands out. She organized marches, served as a staff member at the state and national level on campaigns for female candidates, and also served as a lobbyist for Kansas NOW.
Jana is everything I aspire to be – a strong woman who uses her skills to support the beliefs and rights of others. Her core values were listed as “equality for all persons and the courage to stand up for her own beliefs.”
As a staunch advocate for survivors of domestic violence, it shocked her family, our campus, and her community on July 3rd 2008 when she became a fatal victim of the violence she continually fought against.
“If you would have asked me who the last person that would be murdered by an ex-boyfriend you would say Jana Mackey.” – Kelly Parker
Christie and Curt Brungardt founded Jana’s campaign to ensure that her death would not be in vain. Instead Jana and her family have become pillars in our community spreading the message of prevention, services, and accountability and justice.
“Let’s make a difference – let’s change the world.” – Curt Brungardt
Jana is one among far too many – a woman dies every 8 hours in the United States as a result of domestic violence. This is a story of why we must never stop fighting in the face of violence. Things that we do such as calling our representatives to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act is not something that just goes into the law books – it’s something that saves the lives of thousands of women from suffering injustices such as this.
The things we can do are endless, but what I believe the most important and effective way we can create change is to have these conversations with those close to us. Some may not be able to connect to a call to action to end domestic violence but everyone can connect with a story. Tell Jana’s, or anyone else you know. Tell all your girlfriends how to protect themselves and be careful when dating. Engage men to talk about healthy masculinity and how even the simplest act of changing our language can have a great impact in our actions. Domestic violence isn’t something that happens to strangers, it happens to us, to your mother, to your brothers and sisters, to your best friend, to the person standing next to you at the grocery store. Amplify your voice and take a stand against violence – against all persons.
How to help: http://www.janascampaign.org/take-action/
National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233