Thousands of people filled the street in front of the University of Wisconsin’s Mosse Humanities building before the African American Council of Churches’ solidarity march, Sunday evening.
According to the Facebook page, the AACC organized the march to bring the faith community together in defense of Black lives.
The crowd travelled to the Capitol, stopping every eight minutes and 46 seconds to remind the protestors how long former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck before killing him.
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Once the crowd reached the Capitol, Jada Sayles, a student at Dillard University studying Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science, spoke about the pain this police violence has caused Black women.
Lilada Gee, author of I Can’t Live Like This Anymore! And founder of Black Woman Heal, an organization that works with Black women who have been sexually abused, added to this discussion.
“We, Black women, are sick and tired of not being able to heal from historical trauma because we have to survive trauma every single day that we wake up Black and female in America,” Gee said. “We, Black women, are sick and tired of being on the back end of reaping civil rights yet always expected to be on the frontline to fight.”
Gee closed her speech by saying the names of all the Black women who have been killed by police, ending with Breonna Taylor.
Next, Vanessa McDowell the CEO of YWCA Madison, and also the first Black woman to lead the organization, spoke about her experience marching with the youth leading the night protests.
“These young people are leading the way and as adults we need to learn how to stand behind them and say ‘what can I do to help support you?’” Mcdowell said, urging the white people in the crowd to be more than allies. “We want you to be our co-conspirators… that means we need you to take tangible action steps.”
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McDowell also said addressing the gentrification of Madison by helping Black people buy property and homes is a way to build generational wealth, something she said does not exist in the Black community.
Ald. Barbara Harrington-Mckinney, D-1 and Ald. Sheri Carter, D-14, were present as well. Harrington-Mckinney informed the crowd that newly-elected Carter is the first Black woman to serve as Madison’s City Council president, urging the crowd to support her when needed.
“Eight minutes and 46 seconds, has changed history,” Harrington-Mckinney said. “I raised a Black child and I had to tell my child when he was in the fourth grade… how to speak, how to act just so he could come home to me.”
As the protest came to an end, crowds walked past a small gathering on the steps of the Capitol where many of the night protests have taken place. This group was grilling and registering people to vote.