Written by 50 Miles More organizers, Hiwot Schutz, 17, and Bria Smith, 19
Beginning on June 30 and ending on July 4, young people from our organization 50 Miles More are walking 65 miles from Milwaukee to Madison to demand Wisconsin’s elected officials address the racism epidemic in our state and country.
50 Miles More has always been about challenging authority and calling out the elected officials who say they are working for us, yet argue when we ask for policies that benefit us and help us to grow in a healthy and flourishing environment.
In 2018, our organization began by way of a 50-mile march from Madison to Janesville as a call-out to the Speaker of the U.S. House and State Representative, Paul Ryan, for continuously blocking gun reform policies. These policies directly affected us, and we were not going to stand by as we watched our future be gambled away.
We quickly realized that although we were achieving so much and really making a difference, we didn’t feel represented in these conversations and debates. The narrative was controlled by white students who didn’t have the same lived experiences of racism that we did. As a group, we realized that we couldn’t talk about gun violence without also talking about police brutality and gun violence within inner cities, along with racism.
This year, 50 Miles More was reclaimed by Black women and Black queer youth. We are making a change through Black Feminism and the voices of youth as the voice of this revolution. We hope to see Tony Evers, the Governor of Wisconsin, work for the people who make up this city, including the truly marginalized folks who love this city enough to walk 65 miles in order to see it change.
People can’t ask for safer schools while at the same time promoting school security that puts Black and brown people’s lives in jeopardy, proliferating the criminalization and adultification of Black youth within our schools. The topic of gun reform has to be more inclusive.
The Black revolution comes from the unearthed momentum of young people. Most social justice movements that shifted our laws and ideologies led the youth to hope to strategize a future for change.
Milwaukee, our home, is a graceful city that is controlled by an unjust narrative. We have seen racism modernize itself into our homes, boarded up buildings, and create under-resourced and overpoliced elementary schools that leave our students starving for knowledge. We have seen our community scramble to feed children with empty bellies, host block parties to uplift artists and stand in silence as we grieved gun violence victims.
Milwaukee is ready for the revolution, to reimagine every system that we know as normal and put people first — Black womxn first. Us first.
We are walking 65 miles for Black youth. For queer youth. For womxn. For that young queer Black womxn whose identity is never amplified or represented on the media platforms. We are walking 65 miles toward a new society that welcomes those who are clothed in brown skin. Walking 65 miles means that Black womxn have finally entered the spaces of leadership. It means we are intersecting communities that have experienced trauma to be a part of a larger conversation.
It means holding politicians accountable for their violence against Black and brown communities. It means holding police accountable for their treachery in our neighborhoods. It means power to the people, power to our new imagined freedom and power to the future.