Reverend David Hart is a lifelong Madisonian, a former Assistant Attorney General, a civil rights and criminal defense attorney, pastor at Henderson United Methodist Church in Beloit, and prolific Madison365 columnist.
Rank your Top 5 MCs. I appreciate this question. I was raised on hip hop. It taught me how to take care of my words, to properly structure an essay, and how to think critically. For hip hop cats, there are rappers, and there are emcees. My top five emcees are: Rakim Allah, Saul Williams, Mos Def, KRS-1, and a three-way tie between Eminem, BIG, and ‘Hova. Cannibus and Wyclef get honorable mention. All of these emcees take care of their words, are prolific and innovate continually.
Which motivates you more: doubters or supporters? I love critics, doubters and haters. I really do. I am whatever I am because of them. They are fuel. They help me to carry on when I get weary.
Do you prefer being called Black or African American? I am a Black man. Period. I have Afro-Cuban ancestry, I was born in America, I am a child of God, I am called many things and I am whatever you say I am. But, in the final analysis, I am a Black man.
What three leaders in Madison under 50 have impressed you the most? There are plenty of cats on the grind in Madison, and they have been mentioned in your magazine: Brandi Grayson and her entire squad, Scott Resnick, Kaleem Caire, Zach Brandon. But, three folks I haven’t seen that I’m impressed by are: Camara Stovall, Dr. John Odom, and Reverend Karla Garcia. Reverend Garcia was just reappointed as the pastor of S.S. Morris Church. She is radiant, gifted, and talented all at once. God is with her. I expect her to come up big in 2016.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I am impressed by Andrea Irwin. She is steady, focused, and she will find justice for her son, Tony Robinson.
What’s the biggest stumbling block in Madison to turning the corner on our racial disparities? Black people, I love us, but many of us labor under the impression that there is no problem, no racial disparities to alleviate. If we don’t understand that we are slaves, we cannot be freed. What’s more, there are a small number of us who make a hefty living convincing white people in power that the Black community needs the kind of help only they can provide.
What are your top three priorities at this point in your life? Keep bread on the table for my family, praise God continually and allow my people to see that God is really one who is on our side and does not condone “isms,” and to stay humble, serve, and move the crowd quietly. I don’t need press releases or gimmicks to let them know I am in service of humanity.
The foundation and values of the Civil Rights Movement was based on faith. What role does faith play in today’s civil rights movements? Naturally, faith is the foundation of all human rights efforts, but more especially the civil rights movement. The things we are fighting for—racial justice, marriage equality, gender parity, human dignity, redistributing wealth—are all firmly rooted within the scriptures. And we are called on to fight for these principles only because the scriptures have been twisted to condone greed, hate, and individualism. Civil rights is certainly God’s fight.
You are starting a new church here in Madison called Justice church. Why did you choose that name? Indeed. I am planting a church in Madison called Justice Church. It is so called because we do not want any confusion regarding the church’s mission: justice. Justice for the marginalized. Justice for the poor and distressed. Justice for those who this world does not hear.
As a Madisonian going through the public school system, give one example of how teachers in school discouraged you and one example they did to encourage you? There are many examples of teachers discouraging me. More than I can name in this space. I have been told that I would not succeed or excel simply because of the color of my skin. I have been told I should be in prison, in the military or a trade school…because of the color of my skin.
For cats that are from here, this is not new or a shocking statement. We have all heard that.
On the other hand, Milt McPike, Carolyn Standford-Taylor, Sharon McPike, encouraged me. They helped me understand that I could succeed.
What is your favorite soul food that you cook and why? Picadillo, a Cuban dish. I love it.
What is your prayer for the city? I pray that the city becomes more compassionate to the poor and homeless, that it becomes more welcoming for people of color, and that it manages its growth. I pray for a hedge of protection for all of the young leaders in Madison who are fighting for a brighter tomorrow because they are in love with their people.
Spoken word has caught on with the youth. What do you believe is the attraction for our youth to spoken word? Spoken word is popular with youth because, like hip hop, it relies on the sole aristocracy of the word. It allows youth to be heard and to express their dreams and fears in a safe and creative manner.