By A. David Dahmer
Many of us in the community have known Rev. Alex Gee for years and even decades.
Whether he’s been teaching, preaching, mentoring, fathering, authoring, educating, publishing, community building, or simply being on the frontlines of social justice, we’ve always known him to be busy man.
Well, things have gotten even busier for Gee, the senior pastor at Fountain of Life Church and the founder and president of Nehemiah Corporation, over these past several months following the publishing of his first-person essay, “Justified Anger,” a Capital Times’ cover story on how the Madison area needs to do better by its African-American community. Suddenly, he has become the go-to man on all questions on race relations in Madison.
“I wrote this essay in December and did the [Justified Anger] Town Hall Meeting because people were asking, ‘What do I think? What do I recommend? What do you want to happen?’” Gees says.
“So life got even busier because I’m running a church and a nonprofit. I’m traveling.
I’m overdue on a book proposal that I want to put together. I didn’t see all this stuff coming. And as you have made me aware, I haven’t written anything for The Madison Times lately. Sorry!”
[Alex’s bi-weekly column “Life Lessons with Dr. Alex Gee” in The Madison Times used to be a big hit with the readers and has been missed. There are no hard feelings at TMT. We understand.–Ed.]
“It’s been a whirlwind for me. I’ve realized that since the Town Hall Meeting, I’ve really gotten to know the members of the [Justified Anger] Coalition well as we strategize,” Gee adds.
“And I’ve talked to area foundations who like what we’re doing that want to bring African-American people to the table to frame proposals and solutions.
But it’s taken awhile to coordinate schedules and get everybody to the table.
Some people have been wondering what I’ve been doing for months — [I’ve been] organizing, strategizing, meeting with community leaders and funders. “
Gee sat down to chat over coffee with The Madison Times at his Nehemiah Community Development Corporation office ahead of his press conference May 21 which he hopes will move the disparity conversation from talk and strategy to action.
The conference will be held at the abandoned car wash on 711 W. Badger Rd. behind Gee’s Nehemiah office building.
The car wash will be coming down in the next few weeks and will be replaced by an amazing space for Madison southsiders.
At the press conference, Gee plans to talk about the Coalition’s next steps and to announce an African American Family Meeting to take place on June 5.
The press conference will be hosted by Gee’s Justiﬁed Anger Coalition, a Nehemiah and African-American community initiative, which seeks to create a greater Madison region where African Americans collectively thrive as self-sufﬁcient stakeholders in the economic, social, cultural, and spiritual fabric of our community.
“I think the old car wash is a great background to show that there are cool things that are about to happen here,” Gee says.
“It’s a symbol that something that is an eye sore now can be changed into something very beautiful when the community works together.”
That car wash backdrop, Gee adds, represents collaboration, partnership, and opportunity.
“We’re talking about having a cross-cultural soccer league at that space. We are going to have basketball courts put in.
We can hold events there. We can hold festivals,” Gee says. “By having this collaborative effort this will become an area of town people will be proud of. Kids will have a positive place to go. It will be a well-lit place where good things happen.
The old car wash will be a backdrop that says, ‘Nothing in this community is insurmountable if we work together.’”
The funders, which Gee will announce at the press conference, are Madison Gas & Electric Foundation, CUNA Mutual Foundation, Madison Community Foundation, and Evjue Foundation.
There have also been some significant anonymous local donors. “Our total gifts are just shy of $100,000,” Gee says. “It’s taken some time to put this collaboration together. But that’s what we have been doing these past months along with shaping strategic priorities.”
Those five strategic priorities are around education, mass incarceration, economic development, personal capacity development for individuals and agencies, and accountability for the broader community for what organizations and agencies are going to do to enhance diversity.