April 3, 2015
The very first “Writers for Justice” was held this last Saturday, March 28th, marking the establishment of many similar events to follow. Described as a “spontaneous collaboration” between Sabrina “Heymiss Progress” Madison, Lisa Bauer, and Lee Hayes, “Writers For Justice” grew from a Facebook group, sparked by conversations of Madison’s social climate in the wake of Tony Robinson’s death, into a productive and engaging community event. By writing letters to local and state officials, law enforcement, and community leaders, the event offers a platform for marginalized voices to express concerns of (in)justice and to be heard by those in power.
In support, Lynn Lee, owner of Cargo Coffee, generously donated food, coffee, and space to the nearly 50 people in attendance at his Cargo Coffee East location. Writing utensils, envelopes, stamps, and writing prompts were provided by the organizers, as well as a comprehensive array of contact information for the City Council, Dane County court system, and local and state officials.
The event began with an icebreaker in which individuals were asked to join together in groups of 2-4 to respond to the question, “What does justice look like?” After the discussion of this question produced a diversity of articulate and insightful responses, people broke off into small groups inspired, impassioned, and ready to craft their letters.
As an offshoot to the idea behind “Writers for Justice” and in collaboration with the Madison Public Library system, a new organization called Voices Up! emerged with the purpose of facilitating the input of community members on racial and social justice and equity through multimedia artistic outlets. After collecting these stories in their various forms and binding them into one piece, “Voices Up!” will circulate them throughout the Madison Public Library system as a way of preserving and memorializing the voices of grassroots activism that so often get obscured. “Voices Up!” hopes to host these events on a monthly basis, using public libraries as a space for collaboration.