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Below is the beginning of a list of recent equity initiatives in the Greater Madison region to address the dramatic racial disparities that challenge our community.
The racial disparities in Madison and throughout Wisconsin have created two dramatically different realities along racial lines. The disparities between race amongst children in Wisconsin, ranks worst nationally in recent studies. Current services, efforts, and solutions are fragmented and underserving the minority population in Madison and statewide. The goal is to create a movement that will unite leadership, vision, policy, and strategy to identify the gaps in services and areas of need, and then plan and implement a long-term strategy to improve the lives of minorities in Madison, resources available, and the damaged image of the state as unfriendly for minorities.
In the beginning of 2012, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, launched a multi-year initiative known as Race to Equity. The central goal of the project is to explore, measure, and analyze the extent and pattern of racial disparities on key well-being and outcome measures between African Americans and whites living in Dane County, Wisconsin. Our long-term aspiration is to use this data and analysis as a foundation for advancing collective action towards solutions.
On May 28, 2014, the Board of Directors of the Urban League of Greater Madison – the oldest established civil rights organization in Dane County – took action to officially support the direction of the Justified Anger Coalition, and reaffirm the League’s commitment to serving as part of the Coalition. “We want to publicly affirm and advocate for this and a number of community efforts that are currently taking place to address economic and racial inequities in Dane County,” said C. Wade Harrison, Chairperson of the Board.
For over 40 years, the Urban League of Madison has been successfully addressing the challenges brought to light by recent reports such as the “Race to Equity” and the “Kids Count: Race for Results” reports. Harrison also notes that the “Board believes that it is essential to recognize the many organizations and community leaders that have worked tirelessly to address these challenges for years. They have laid the groundwork from which these new initiatives can build.”
Noble Wray, Interim President and CEO of the League has been member of the Justified Anger Coalition since its inception. The Board’s action codifies the League’s position that the work of the coalition is critical in keeping this community’s comprehensive planning efforts moving forward. Moreover, the Board hopes that others will join the League in publicly supporting the Coalition.
“As a national organization, the Urban League understands that the conditions that produced these racial inequities are complex and difficult to resolve and have had an adverse impact on the entire Country” explained Wray. He continued, “We stand ready to work with a sense of urgency but are realistic about the long term work ahead of us. While these underlying conditions are generational and will not be solved overnight, we must intensify our commitment to erase these inequities immediately.”
The Urban League believes that the people of Madison and Dane County are poised to take meaningful action and would like to facilitate people and groups finding a role for themselves to be involved. To that end, we are asking community members to tell us about their equity initiatives, and we will share that information here on our website.