To the editor of THE EAGLE:

This year will mark the third consecutive year of my participation in the Elizabeth Freeman Center’s "Walk a Mile in My Shoes." This event brings attention to the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault against the women of Berkshire County. It also raises money to provide much-needed services to the survivors of senseless violence and disgraceful behavior by one human toward another.

This year the walk for me as a black male is significant as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington D.C. for freedom, equality and justice, and to honor Elizabeth Freeman (Bett/Mum Bett) for whom the center is named. The slave of a prominent Massachusetts family, Mum Bett filed a "freedom suit" under the 1780 Constitution, and won her freedom in a decision rendered by the state Supreme Court in 1781. Her victory played a part in ending slavery in Massachusetts.

This led to future protections for black women as "free women" of the United States. Rape and violence were no longer a slave owner’s right and entitlement just because they owned the women!

So I walk this year in support of the right of women to speak their minds, express their feelings, and control their bodies without the fear of violence or sexual assault. I ask that everyone support the men walking with a financial contribution this year, and that you come out on Thursday, Sept. 19 in support of the Elizabeth Freeman Center’s walk against domestic violence and sexual assault as the center raises money to provide services to the survivors.

DENNIS L. POWELL

Pittsfield