About 40 people sat in the pews of the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs on Thursday night to pray for the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped April 15 from a village school in Nigeria.
Their faces illuminated by candlelight, attendees prayed silently before beating on drums and clapping their hands in a rally and prayer vigil that sought to underscore the economic, political and educational disparities that affect women around the world.
The "Bring Back our Girls Rally and Vigil" was organized by the National Association of Colored People's Colorado, Montana and Wyoming State Area Conference.
"What happens in Nigeria has deep repercussions for the rest of the world," NAACP state president Rosemary Harris Lytle told attendees. "We have to take advantage of this moment."
The rally was a call to action, and participants stood to share the ways in which they planned to advocate for the girls, who were kidnapped by an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group about three weeks ago. During the rally, attendees expressed concerns about government transparency, accountability and gender inequality.
"Our globe needs to rethink its treatment of women, its view of women," said Athena Roe. "It's an atrocity that should not be happening in 2014."
When the vigil ended, attendees lined up to sign their name on a large sheet of paper that Lytle said would be photographed and sent to the president, the secretary of state and local lawmakers.
Levon Coates and her 9-year-old daughter, Karilyn, waited to sign it.
"I brought my daughter to let her know that we matter, she matters, that those girls matter," said Coates. "We have to come together."