‘Kids have a voice too’: Youth lead march for equality on Madison’s east side

MADISON, Wis. – Hundreds marched for racial justice Sunday afternoon, as a large group made its way from McPike Park to Orton Park on the city’s east side. While the message of racial equality mirrored demonstrations over the last few months, it was a different group leading the way.

“Kids have a voice too,” said 12-year-old Roza Jasper. “Some people say ‘Kids should be seen and not heard.’ I disagree with that.”

Jasper is one of hundreds of kids to participate in the march specifically designed to engage young people on issues of police brutality and racial injustice.

“We were looking for creative ways to pull in more allies to the movement,” said Allison Bell Bern, an organizer representing Allies for Black Lives, Madison. “I’m really thrilled to see the turnout.”

Multiple organizations contributed to Sunday’s event, which included sign making as well as an educational period, where children were taught about serious topics like racial injustice and police reform by using analogies such as bicycles and trains.

Parents say it can be a challenge to explain some current events to their children.

“It’s really difficult, because (my kids are) five,” said Kay Spencer, who brought her niece and nephew Justice and Josiah to Sunday’s event. “Every kid is different, and every kid’s comprehension level is different, so all they understand is that black people are being murdered and they want to know why. How do you explain that to a five year old?”

Spencer says while it can be tough for children to comprehend the complex concepts of structural racism, that doesn’t mean they’re not immune to it.

“One of their very first instances of race was when they were two years old playing on a playground in the mall,” Spencer said. “A little kid said they didn’t want to play with a dark kid. That’s the reality of a small innocent of a child wanting to play. You’re trying to explain to your kid what that means.”

“Kids should be able to say stuff that they think,” Roza Japser said. “Because it could be helpful to the future, future people and kids.”