The Meadowood neighborhood on Madison’s southwest side has seen multiple incidents of gunfire this summer that has left that community a bit uneasy, especially the children of the area. With that in mind, more than 400 people came out on Saturday, Aug. 26, to show that they are a unified community at the “Stop the Violence, Save Our Children” march down Raymond Road.
The march was organized by Club Today Not Tomorrow (TNT), an hour-long TV program on Saturdays to educate youth and help steer them towards positive life choices, and Neighborhood Connectors, an agency headed by Sheray Wallace that connects families in the Meadowood community.
“It was really an amazing event. I think people really wanted to show support for making neighborhoods and communities a safer place for children,” Betty Banks, senior executive producer of Club TNT, tells Madison365. “It really touched my heart to see that many people support this march. I think that over the years in doing the work we’ve done we’ve always known that Madison is a place that can be very generous and supportive when you are reaching out to build community. I think people really do understand the danger of not addressing gun violence. We have to let people know that these are our children and this is our community and that we will not stand for this.”
“It was powerful. Very powerful. We were like, ‘Wow!’ You could see people marching for miles,” added Gaddi Ben Dan, also senior executive producer of Club TNT. “Mayor Paul Soglin was there. The Madison Chief of Police [Mike Koval] was there. Plenty of community supporters were there.”
Sponsors of the event included the Urban League of Greater Madison, Madison area Urban Ministry (MUM), the Madison Community Foundation, State Farm Insurance, JH Findorff Company, Omega School, Umoja Magazine, Wegner and Associates CPA’S., WISC-TV Channel 3, Meadowood Library, Meadowood Foundation, City of Madison, Madison Fire and Police Departments, University of Wisconsin Marching Band, Today Not Tomorrow, Project Babies, Tales with BIG T, Access Community Health, Rick’s Olde Gold, the Black Chamber of Commerce, and more.
“Sheray Wallace [of Neighborhood Connectors] put a lot of hard work into this march,” Banks says. “We’re very thankful for Good Shepard Church, St. Maria Goretti Church and Our Redeemer Church who were so supportive throughout the whole planning of the parade.”
“The march was very well attended. There will well over 400 people. Good Shepard Church served a beautiful breakfast and many of their people came out,” Banks continues. “There will children, young people, older people. Great diversity. So many people and organizations with their signs about peace and love. One of our goals for this event was to raise awareness and I believe that we did that. People came out of their houses to watch our parade”
Breakfast was served at Good Shepard Church in the morning to kick off the event and then marchers made their way west down Raymond Road on streets blocked off by police carrying creative signs that they had made.
“We had great diversity at this march. In fact, it was more white than black,” Dan says. “The community came out. The vibe was so positive. It was a community activist vibe. There were a lot of kids and a lot of laughter. It was great camaraderie.”
The march ended up at Holy Redeemer Church on Madison’s west side where the party just kept going until the march organizers urged everybody to go over to the West Fest, a block party hosted by westside alder Barbara McKinney.
“People were enthused. And it wasn’t just the people in the march but people going by and honking their horns and people coming out of their houses,” Banks says. “It was really well attended. I think both Today Not Tomorrow and Neighborhood Connectors were very pleased with the turnout.
“This march was about the fact that we want kids to be able to walk to school and to be able to safely play in their yards,” she adds. “We want kids to be able to enjoy all of the beauty in Madison in safety without gun violence and stray bullets.”
Will the big turnout for this march mean that there could be another big march happening in the future?
“I’d love to, man. We’d love to,” Dan says. “It was more than we expected as far as the turnout. I was surprised. And delighted. I was wowed. There were people everywhere. Everywhere.”