This Week In Washington, Racial Justice Group’s First Two Years

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Two years ago, the Justified Anger Coalition was formed in Madison to help African-Americans overcome inequities in the city. We check in with the group’s founder about the challenges they’ve faced and what the most important issues are today. We also look back at the top political stories of the week from Washington D.C. and beyond.

Featured in this Show

  • What The Justified Anger Coalition's Founder Sees As Today's Challenges

    Two years ago, a new movement was formed in Madison to promote racial justice and to address the challenges facing the African-American community. We get an update from the founder, and ask what the most pressing issue are today.

  • Madison's Justified Anger Leader: US Has Long Road To Racial Equity

    One Saturday evening a few years ago, the Rev. Alex Gee was pulled over by police in Madison in front of his church on the way to a prayer meeting. Gee said he hadn’t committed any traffic violations and his tail lights were functioning.

    In that moment, Gee felt disconnected from the American dream.

    “My mom promised me, my teachers promised me, if you get a graduate degree, you will not be judged by your color. Anger was the natural result,” Gee said. “It pulled me out of my bubble of thinking I was better than or I wouldn’t be seen the same (as other African-Americans),” Gee said.

    That experience, along with another incident in which Gee was thanked for not being “an angry black man” after giving a presentation on racial disparities in Wisconsin, pushed Gee to take action.

    He decided to write an open letter to Madison published by The Cap Times in December 2013 detailing his experiences as a black man in a community that claimed to be progressive.

    “I wanted to tell my story in my own words, as a person who’s grown up in this community, … of personal experiences that I actually thought would never happen to me. I never thought that I’d be profiled,” he said.

    Gee later founded the Justified Anger with colleagues as part of his nonprofit, Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development.

    Considering the acquittals of several police officers in the past month after shooting and killing black men — Philando Castile, Sylville Smith and Terence Crutcher — Gee said he’s reminded of how far the United States has to go when it comes to racial equity.

    “It’s disheartening because it reminds African-Americans of the uneasy history that we’ve had with law enforcement,” Gee said.

    “It just regurgitates those old feelings. When I was a kid, my grandmother talked about Emmett Till, and now we’re talking about new names, like Philando Castile and Michael Brown. And so I just feel that we take steps forward and we take so many steps backwards.”

    Gee’s brother is a police officer, and Gee appreciates and respects law enforcement, he said. But the sense that he can’t be sure whether he’d survive an encounter with law enforcement remains.

    “I don’t even have the words to explain how daunting and how ominous that is,” Gee said.

Episode Credits

  • Judith Siers-Poisson Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Alex Gee Guest
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Interviewer