The Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Walk/Brides’ March is an annual event which was started in New York City in 2001 to remember Gladys Ricart, a Dominican woman from Washington Heights, who was murdered in New Jersey on September 26, 1999, by her abusive former boyfriend on the day she was to wed her fiancé.
The first March took place on September 26, 2001, the second anniversary of Gladys’ murder. The idea for the March was originated by Josie Ashton, a young Dominican woman from Florida, who was moved by the murder and outraged at the media and community’s insensitive response to Gladys’ murder. Josie resigned from her job and sacrificed more than three months of her life away from her then young family to walk, in a wedding gown, through several states down the East Coast ending in her home state of Florida, all in an attempt to draw attention to the horrors of domestic violence.
Several organizations in New York City, including the Dominican Women’s Development Center, the Violence Intervention Program, the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, the Dominican Women’s Caucus and the National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence, helped Josie organize the first March, which served as a sendoff for her 1,600-mile journey. They organized supporters in the New York metropolitan area, including the family and friend of Gladys, to join Josie on the first leg of her walk from Gladys home in New Jersey, to the Church in Queens were Gladys was to marry that September 26, 1999.
To date, thousands of women, men, and youth, among them members of the Ricart family and other families affected by domestic violence, along with elected officials, civic leaders, clergy, students, and scores of domestic violence advocates and survivors, gather every September 26, rain or shine, to memorialize Gladys and the many other victims who have also lost their lives to domestic violence, and raise awareness of the horrors of domestic violence.
Marches have also taken place in Miami, FL., Lawrence, MA, Newburgh, NY, and Milwaukee, WI. In 2003 actress, Salma Hayek, in collaboration with Marie Claire Magazine, held a March in Washington, DC. In 2005 actor, author and child survivor of domestic violence, Victor Rivers participated in the New York, NY March.
The mission of the New York Latinas Against Domestic Violence is to raise awareness of domestic violence and its consequences, particularly in the Latino community in New York City.