Awaiting Ferguson decision, local young leaders emphasize racial inequality

Group will lead local rally following announcement in Missouri
Awaiting Ferguson decision, local young leaders emphasize racial inequality

Whether or not a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decides to criminally charge Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, local youth leaders say they will use the decision to emphasize Madison and Dane County’s racial inequality.

“And that’s really the larger point at hand. It’s more than just Michael Brown and Darren Wilson,” young community leader Matthew Braunginn said. “It doesn’t stop the massive amount of poverty of black and brown people in this community.”

Braunginn, the son of former urban league head Steve Braunginn, first echoed that sentiment about Madison’s racial disparity during a summer rally he helped organize following the Ferguson shooting.

Sunday, Braunginn joined three other community organizers who will help lead a rally when the grand jury announcement is made.

“We still need to use this moment nationally to make the changes that our communities are in need,” Operation Welcome Home community organizer Eric Upchurch said.

“That says a lot that Madison out rates Ferguson, out rates Mississippi, in terms of incarceration rates of black people in general,” Madtown CRT CEO Brandi Grayson added.

“I think it’s time to pay respect to the older generation, and draw inspiration not from the past, but from what the future can be,” college student Savion Castro said.

Dane Co. Boys & Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson, who spoke at Michael Brown’s Aug. funeral, facilitated the youth leader meeting.

“I was on the stage with Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and Jesse Jackson, but there were really no young people up there representing their community,” Johnson says.  “It was important to me that our young people’s voices was heard. And so I reached out to them and asked if they would meet with me and the head of the NAACP to organize some sort of response.”

Johnson hopes rally goers take away a message of investing in the system.

“We have to put strategies in place and create a grand vision, like Martin Luther King talked about ‘I can see my four young children,’ and when ‘I can see an America that do X, Y and Z, we have to set that same kind of vision for Dane County. And I just think we don’t have it now at this moment.”

The young leaders say more direct, attention grabbing examples like holding up signs at football games, or buying billboards, should help change the status quo to really help the community understand the meaning behind their message and take action.

The groups are communicating through a central Facebook page: