It may be hard to believe, but it has been 25 years since the murder of Nicole Simpson, a longtime victim of domestic violence by her husband, Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson. A music video - with Western New York roots - has been produced as a call-to-action anthem, marking the anniversary.
"To me, Nicole was just my sister, but to many, to millions, still today I am memerized about what an impact she makes on peoples' lives in the world of domestic violence."
Tanya Brown is the younger sister of Nicole Simpson by 10 years. When Tanya first viewed the music video, "I Remember Nicole," she says it gave her goosebumps - seeing her "elegant dork" of a sister with O.J. Simpson, smiling, then with her battered face. Nicole was 35 years old when she and friend Ronald Goldman were murdered in 1994. In 1995, O.J. Simpson was aquitted of murder charges.
"We can't bring our loved ones back, right?" Brown asks. "It's so beautifully made and it's made with such respect and, hey, if I need to share my sister with the world to help people who still walk this earth, then I'm gonna do it."
The majority of "I Remember Nicole" is actually thousands of women - from all backgrounds, all ages, individually and in groups - reclaiming their power over domestic violence through song, dance, signage and marches.
Much of it was filmed in Rochester. It was co-produced by Mary Jo Godges and Rochester native Renee Sotile, who in 1994 was a photojournalist in Los Angeles covering the trial of the century.
"I saw every day how Nicole was getting less and less part of the dialogue. It was all about O.J. and everything that happened with the cops," Sotile said.
"That kind of sparked the idea of the title, "I Remember Nicole," said Godges.
"Even if you don't remember Nicole, you know a Nicole or your are a Nicole," said Sotile. "So here name is really used as a methaphor."
"There's so many Nicoles out there," Godges said.
Godges and Sotile have made the music video free online. They say its resounding message is that silence is dangerous. They hope "I Remember Nciole" will help victims find their voice and be played at events as a sort of anthem for survivors of domestic violence - or any type of victimization.
"You know, 'I Remember Nicole' is a song, music video and call to action," said Sotile, "We hope it resonates with women and victims now and for many years to come."
"Because when there is a collective voice, when there is a collective chorus, there is power in that. There is empowerment in that," said Godges. "We'd like to think this is an awakening and this will be a cultural shift and a healing."
"We all have pain. Pain, I don't think, ever goes away. We all have some sort of emotional pain," says Brown. "Is mine all gone? Nicole's? Yes. O.J.'s? Yes. All of that pain is gone. Everything's a skill. It takes practice. It doesn't happen overnight. Healing doesn't just knock on your door and say, 'Here I am.' You've really got to put forth some effort, but just know you're not alone."
This story originally aired in October 2018 for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.