How Ursula Rucker Goes Beyond the Breakthrough

The theme of the 2019 National Sexual Assault Conference—Beyond the Breakthrough—sought to inspire the collective movement to end sexual violence and build on the momentum of the #MeToo movement. Ms. was the media sponsor for the conference—and expanded the discussions happening on-site with this dedicated series. Click here to read more posts. You can also watch interviews and conference sessions from #NSAC2019 on the Ms. Facebook!

Ursula Rucker is a Philadelphia born poet, mother, activist and recording artist dedicated to art as and for social change—and committed to freedom fighting, truth-telling and peace- and trouble-making through her chosen art form.

Rucker will be joining hundreds of advocates and service providers at this year’s National Sexual Assault Conference, where she will perform a poem called L.O.V.E. on Wednesday as part of the opening plenary. In advance of the event, she talked to RALIANCE about what she thinks it will take to finally move beyond the breakthrough.

What does it mean for NSAC to be in your home town?

I think for NSAC to be in any town, especially in these often maddening times, is beyond important and necessary. NSAC happening in Philly—well, that just makes perfect and organic sense to me. We are a city of great history and profound creativity and protest legacy and grit. What better place to dig into harsh truths and grow something meaningful and progressive and healing and lasting?

Why is this this topic so important?

That’s a loaded question—one best suited for a conference perhaps!

Shouldn’t the safety and well being of all humans always be important? Shouldn’t the intimate, emotional, sexual safety and well-being of all humans be important? But it isn’t. It repeatedly and chronically is not important. It repeatedly and chronically continues to be a pressing issue—because sexual assault continues to happen, repeatedly and chronically. 

There is a mass desensitization going on, I think, and it is so dangerous. “Sexual assault” is not trendy. In these trendy times of social media overstimulation and dilution, we need to work harder and more diligently at breeding true, and effective compassion, then turn it into true and effective action.

I am hugely excited and honored to be in the midst of this kind of true compassion and action. This cycle of sexual assault must end. We must do the work. We must evolve. We must be well. And we must help others be well!

What does Beyond the Breakthrough mean to you?

The “breakthrough” is just a beginning of a new journey. It’s not the end. “Beyond the Breakthrough” is the hope and strength it takes to continue on through and despite trauma. “Beyond the Breakthrough” is the hope and strength and compassion and activity takes to aid people in their continuing on, through and despite trauma. “Beyond the Breakthrough” is the real work that happens once the new journey begins—the journey to real wellness and joy.

Here’s to breakthroughs… and beyond!

WATCH: The Ms. LIVE Q&A with Ursula Rucker!


Julie Patrick is the National Partners Liaison for RALIANCE and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Her work focuses on changing the conversation about sexual violence through efforts with the news media as well as advocates, allies and survivors. Prior to RALIANCE, Julie served for over a decade as the Senior Special Projects Coordinator with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, VA and managed the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation.