Vol. 10    No. 7
APRIL 2, 2015

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Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

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Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                Voting and Non-Violence
A New Day of Leadership
Dr. Ruben Anthony Jr. Is the New CEO
of the Urban League
As I write this column in the early hours of April 3, I am reminded that tomorrow, Saturday, is the 47th anniversary of the assassination of Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. on the balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. I remember how difficult and ironic those
days were. They were difficult because one of the greatest American leaders of the 20th century had been murdered, a murder that took the
wind out of the sails of the civil rights movement. It was an American tragedy that caused pain everywhere.

The response to Dr. King’s death was also ironic. In almost every speech that he gave, Dr. King preached non-violence. The marches and
actions that he participated in were successful because they were non-violent, be they the Montgomery Bus Boycott or the Selma March. Non-
violence was the only way to get the “enemy” of civil rights to recognize the humanity of the one protesting to see the righteousness of their
cause. It was non-violence that dismantled the legal apparatus of Jim Crow in the Southern states.

And so it was quite ironic that the response of some to Dr. King’s death was rioting and looting. The inner-cities of many of America’s urban
areas went up in smoke that day along with the momentum of the civil rights movement.

Whenever there has been violence based on race, it is always African Americans and the African American community that suffer most. Not
only does violence stop the African American community from moving forward, but in many instances, it pushes the community backwards.
Now there might be some person who feels empowered by violence. But any sense of empowerment that person feels comes at the expense of
the African American community as a whole. In the end, violence is a selfish act that harms people on so many levels.

It has been reported that the Wis. Department of Justice will be submitting its report on the officer-involved shooting of Tony Robinson to the
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne. Although there might be leaks to the press by people involved with the process, it is my
understanding that the report will not be made public.

It is also my understanding that there will be no decision today or in the near future on what to do with the DOJ report. DOJ investigated the
shooting to establish the who, what, when, where and how. It will be up to the DA’s Office to analyze that report, compare it to the laws of Dane
County and Wisconsin and make a judgment on whether or not there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed when the
shooting occurred. I do not believe that there will be a rush to judgment on the part of DA Ozanne. Before DA Ozanne makes his judgment,
everything else is mere speculation.

So it is important for everyone to stay cool and non-violent and not rush to judgment themselves. As a community — police and citizens alike
— we must believe in non-violence. We must also believe that Madison cannot go on with a “business as usual” frame of mind. Tony Robinson’
s death is a symptom of much larger community problems. These are problems that all of us must be involved in creating the solutions for.

One problem that existed in Ferguson, Missouri was that too many of the members of the African American community did not vote and
participate in community decision-making. The result was no elected African Americans in a municipality that was majority African American
and very few African Americans represented in the city bureaucracy and police force.

And quite frankly, this problem exists in Madison too. Historically African Americans and other people of color have voted in low numbers. Low
vote totals in South Madison would indicate to a cold-hearted politician that he or she does not have to pay attention to that area and the needs
of its residents. African Americans and other people of color have to represent.

This is the year that we commemorate the Selma March and passage of the Voting Rights Act. People died for the right to vote and there is a
reason why. They wanted control of their destinies and the policies made on their behalf.

On Tuesday April 7, honor history and make your opinion matter. VOTE! Vote as if your life depended on it because it most certainly does.
The Bear Clan Singers & Dancers at West High