Black church leaders: Ferguson will not happen in Madison

Black church leaders: Ferguson will not happen in Madison

Black church leaders representing 20 Madison congregations stood united Wednesday inside the Madison Pentecostal Church to send the African American community the message that they are determined to prevent another Ferguson.

“We’re looking beyond Ferguson. And we’re also looking at our community to make sure that we are proactive in a way, that what has happened in New York, what happened in Ferguson, won’t happen here,” African American Council of Churches President Bishop Harold Rayford said.

“There’s an old African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. I want to say today the village of Ferguson has failed the Brown family and we do not want that to happen in Madison, Wisconsin,” Faith Community Baptist Church Pastor David Smith said. “So we vow and commit in covenant together that we will work and see to it that these incidents across the county will not happen in our backyard.”

The AACC’s answer, which includes urging more black parents to bring their children to church, says they will also work with a caring community as a coalition.

“We are now unifying ourselves, and we are leveraging that responsibility and our collective voices to talk with the police department, superintendents, elected officials,” Fountain of Life Church pastor Dr. Alex Gee said.

The council feels partners can have a direct impact on five key areas, including fatherless homes, getting a job or a college education and being able to find an affordable home.

“Having a conversation where we sit down with our partners to ask different questions than have been asked before,” Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church Pastor Everette Mitchell said.

“By having an open dialogue with the law enforcement agencies, we want to see their training,” Rayford said. “What are they teaching the officers about de-escalating a situation?”

The AACC church leaders said they stand unified in a historic mission to do their part to transform social systems.

“We’ve always been together. The thing is, pain makes you holler together. And we all felt this pain is not just a blip on the screen,” Madison Pentecostal Assembly Bishop Eugene Johnson said.

AACC leadership said their announcement’s timing is not a coincidence. Especially with Dane County’s high African American incarceration and poverty rates, Rayford said they really wanted to digest the Ferguson news and see how they could make a difference in Madison.