By Stan Friedman
MADISON, WI (December 31, 2013) — Alexander Gee, pastor of Fountain of Life Covenant Church, hopes that the discussion on racism his 3,000-word Capital Times column sparked will continue on a new Facebook site and in community forums that media outlets and city government have said they would like to help sponsor.
The column entitled “Justified Anger” appeared on December 18. Since then, it has received nearly 5,000 recommendations on Facebook and received 114 comments, according to the newspaper’s website.
“It is AMAZING to me how this article has allowed people to talk openly about race and racism in our community,” Gee posted on Facebook. Strangers have walked up to him to say thank you, and county executive Joe Parisi called to discuss possibilities for promoting further discussion and action.
Gee, a near-lifelong resident of Madison, lamented in the column that racism is as widespread and deep in his city as anywhere else despite Madison’s long-held reputation of being “progressive.”
Gee wrote, “I was compelled to write this article for several reasons: To offer a fresh, indigenous African-American male perspective on race relations in Madison; to voice my desire to see a stronger and healthier community; to challenge the city’s subtle—and at times not-so-subtle—elitism, paternalism, racism, and classism; and most importantly, I am writing this because I have a nephew, a godson and a host of African-American boys who I love and respect and cannot bear to have them exposed to the reality of the current inequities of our community.”
Gee has served as pastor of Fountain of Life, a multicultural and multi-class congregation, for nearly 30 years and the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development for 21 years. The nonprofit, “offers a path to transformation for Madison’s African-American youth, families and marginalized men,” Gee said.
Though directed at Madison, the issue is “epidemic” in communities around the country and in churches. Preaching at the Covenant’s Annual Meeting in Detroit earlier this year, Gee told delegates that Christians must live out their call to pursue justice by addressing racism.