Markasa Tucker was never really involved in civic engagement, until April 30, 2014, when Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed in Milwaukee. “That is what struck a nerve for me,” she states. New to activism, Tucker responded to the call when the Hamilton family asked people to join them in protest at Red Arrow Park following the shooting. She felt drawn to the protest and wanted to show support for the family, becoming one of many to demand justice and accountability from the police department.
That same year, Tucker took a job at Wisconsin Voices, knowing that her career was heading down a new path. Wisconsin Voices is an organization that connects social action organizations with one another to build a collective that jointly has a stronger voice to make Wisconsin better. Once Tucker got a taste for activism, she couldn’t turn back. As she got more involved, she noticed “the community is often left from the table” when talking about policy changes and social justice, but she has made it her mission to bring them front and center. In 2016, the Coalition for Justice (CFJ)—an organization started by the Hamilton family focused on vindicating Dontre’s death and holding police accountable—asked Tucker to join their core team. That topic of police accountability would become one of the core issues that Tucker would work to improve.
A turning point for Tucker came in 2016, when Dontre’s brother, Nate Hamilton, personally asked her to speak at a rally in front of a crowd. After speaking with a bullhorn for the first time, she realized that is where she is meant to be. “I’m a connector and collaborator,” she says. “Continue to connect and engage people, because there’s value in all of us.” That year, she began incorporating the work of the CFJ into her work in the African American Round Table (AART), which is a monthly meeting of black leaders from the organizations that partner with Wisconsin Voices. Their goal is to create a unified partnership that empowers African Americans to lead and change policies through civic engagement. Tucker is now a lead facilitator of public protests, community meetings and organized lobbying efforts that push to open conversations between Milwaukee’s police and its citizens.
‘Don’t Get Comfortable!’
“With Wisconsin Voices, I’ve learned that sometimes we show up in spaces as if we’re going to be a savior. We’re not the saviors,” explains Tucker. “The people who are affected and impacted by the situation, those are the people whose voices should be up front.” She goes on to say that, now that the election has ended, more than ever our citizens need to be present.
The AART will be hosting community meetings with the elected office holders before Tuesday, Jan. 1, to educate people about each role and to allow people to ask the elected candidates questions. Whether people call their alderperson or simply show up at a meeting, there are plenty of opportunities to jump into the movement. “Find a way to plug in,” states Tucker. “Just don’t lose this momentum. Don’t get comfortable!”
To learn more about Wisconsin Voices and the AART, visit wisconsinvoices.org.