THE LONG VIEW History sheds light on racial injustice How can you solve a problem if you don’t understand its roots? Can you be part of a solution when you don’t know the whole story? When the concern is as complex and urgent as the racial justice issues making headlines locally and nationwide, say Steve Kantrowitz and the Rev. Alex Gee, Jr., you need an approach that provides context and deepens awareness.
Professor Steve Kantrowitz (left) and the Rev. Alex Gee, Jr. discuss the future of their Black History for a New Day course at Fountain of Life Church in Madison. (Photo by Sarah Morton)
Kantrowitz is a professor of history and faculty affiliate in American Indian Studies and AfroAmerican Studies. Gee is a UW-Madison graduate (BA'85, Afro-American Studies) and the senior pastor at Fountain of Life Covenant Church in Madison. The two met a few years back as speakers on a panel and stayed in touch. As events unfolded across the country and in Madison, they decided to collaborate on a community course designed to unpack the
roots of racism, “Black History for a New Day: Allies for a Stronger Madison.” The students were primarily white Madison-area residents who had expressed interest in working toward racial justice. Gee and Kantrowitz believed the participants could best serve as “allies” to the cause if they had knowledge about the African American experience. Armed with more context and understanding, they could educate and advocate in their own circles. “We wanted to help people deepen their understanding of the African American past, the way it has shaped American history and life more generally, and the ways it shapes how we live with each other today,” Kantrowitz says. “If people knew the gamut of history, they’d have ‘aha’ moments,” says Gee.
L&S Annual Review 2015-2016