The greater Madison community celebrated the 31st Annual City of Madison & Dane County observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday on Monday night at the Overture Center.
Z! Haukeness was presented the 2016 City-County Humanitarian Award honoring the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Haukeness has been established as a local leader in the implementation and follow-though of restorative justice, including teaching non-violent conflict resolution, conflict avoidance, ways to unite community, and how to engage in effective goal-oriented dialogue.
“It has been hard for me to accept the award, partially because being singled out as a leader can gloss over the importance of being rooted in community and organizations with others, learning and growing staying rooted in history and being connected to larger movements,” Haukeness told the crowd. “Also, because of my race as a white person, and too often we don’t recognize leaders because of their identity, or because they are too controversial, too confrontational, or too much in the background to be recognized. Particularly those who are grassroots, direct action oriented, women, queer, trans, working class, people with disabilities, and people of color.
“While some people may be tired of hearing about the Race to Equity Report, the 75 percent of black children living in poverty, the 50 percent graduation rate for Black students, the infant mortality rate, the unemployment rate, the incarceration rate, the arrest rate, the homeless rate …. I will ask you to remember how tired people are of living under these conditions for generations here in Madison and Dane County and how much deeper we have to dig to make the changes necessary to address these disparities,” Haukeness added.
Haukeness told the crowd that we are in the midst of a national movement for black lives that is led by womyn, queer and trans folks, feminist men, and others most impacted by state violence.
“There are roles for all of us to play in this movement and we need all hands on deck,” Huakeness said. “There is some good work being done by many people in this room, some who have been doing this work for many more years than me. There are steps being made within the City and County, but we need to dig much deeper to get at the depth of the violence that communities of color are facing here. Do you think we can do more?”
The keynote speaker for the event was Ernest Green, a member of the “Little Rock Nine” that famously first integrated Little Rock Central High in fall of 1957
“An agent of change is a singular individual with a dream of a better tomorrow – be it for themselves, their future generations to come of all mankind,” Green said.