Eight community leaders will join award-winning journalist Keith Woods for a candid discussion about race in Madison on Thursday, April 24.
Panelists will discuss the social divide in the Madison area — the things that keep us apart, and what can bring us together to take on issues in education, housing, crime and the economy.
It's part of the Cap Times’ larger effort to address the profound quality-of-life disparities between races made evident in the recent “Race to Equity” report and which are at the heart of the Rev. Alex Gee’s Justified Anger movement.
The following panelists will participate:
Colleen Butler is the racial justice director of YWCA Madison. She serves on the Dane County Equal Opportunity Commission, the Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System and the Implementation Team for that Task Force. Butler’s work embodies the YWCA's mission to empower women and eliminate racism, and includes planning the Racial Justice Summit and leading restorative justice efforts in the Madison area community.
Alex Gee is the pastor of Fountain of Life Covenant Church and founder of the Justified Anger coalition. He is also the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development. Gee founded the Justified Anger coalition to address racial disparities in Madison and Dane County after publishing his essay, bearing the same title, in The Capital Times in December 2013. The essay, which urged the Madison area to do better by its African-American community, sparked widespread discussion within the community and throughout the country.
Michael Johnson is the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, and a member of the Justified Anger coalition to address racial disparity in Madison. In October, his personal essay, “Driven to Act” was published in The Capital Times. It detailed a racial hazing incident in Minnesota, and discussed steps Madison can take to move forward as a community on race relations. The essay provoked discussion in Madison and beyond, and sparked the idea for a community potluck dinner to discuss race relations. The dinner is at Memorial High School on April 27.
Gloria Ladson-Billings is a professor and assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs in the education department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She wrote in January of this year that “nice” Madison is in denial about its racism, and refers to racial disparities in education and opportunity not as an “achievement gap,” but as an “education debt.” Solving it, she has said, starts with instilling confidence in children.
Annette Miller is the emerging markets and community development director for Madison Gas and Electric. She served as an aide in the office of Mayor Dave Cieslewicz for several years, focusing on community and neighborhood issues. Both in the public and private sector, much of her work has centered on reaching communities of color, low-income residents and other vulnerable populations.
Everett Mitchell is pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church and director of community relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He previously served as an assistant district attorney in Dane County. Mitchell’s congregation is making an effort to build relationships with people of other races and faiths, and he is calling for others in Madison to do the same.
Erica Nelson is the project director for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families’ Race to Equity Project. The Race to Equity report, released in October 2013, outlined an alarming racial divide between blacks and whites in Dane County. It has fueled a growing movement in the community urging action to eliminate racial disparities. Nelson advocates a “comprehensive, collaborative approach” to addressing the community’s disparities.
Michael Schuler is the minister of the First Unitarian Society of Madison. He is on the steering committee of Dane County United, a community organizing group that aims to bridge the city's religious, political, racial, generational, class, geographical and cultural divides.