Four billboards put up by an organization, Urban Cure, in Milwaukee were taken down after people complained that the message on the boards was inappropriate. However, the group is defending the images.
The four billboards, put up throughout the city, contained the same message, and pictures of African American teens. They have since been replaced with an inspirational message about courage.
The billboards, aimed at Milwaukee residents living in poverty, read: “Finish school. Take Any Job. Get Married. Save & Invest. Give Back to Your Neighborhood.”
"These are big issues. These are systemic issues," Amber Flanagan Kinlow, said. "I felt like it was an attack and not the way to solve the problem."
She added that she had seen the billboards put up on Tuesday, August 19, and quickly documented every location they appeared in.
Within 24 hours, the billboards were taken down.
The company that owns the advertising space, Clear Channel, told FOX6 News in part: "This ad did not receive proper approvals, lacked appropriate attribution and was promptly removed. We value our neighbors for bringing this to our attention."
William Allen, Urban Cure's COO, spoke to Fox 6 News before the billboards were taken down on Wednesday. Allen stated that his group was a "think tank" based out of Washington D.C., and was tied to an extensive clergy network throughout the country.
"It has always been the message parents have given – of course, parents give it in the home and privately," Allen said.
Allen stated that the group purchased the same billboards in the Minneapolis and Philadelphia markets, and that the message is not political, and not timed for the Democratic National Convention.
Flanagan Kinlow stated that she was glad that the billboards were removed quickly and hopes that more attention is given to the complex issue of poverty.
"There are jobs that aren't paying living wages and saying things like 'get married' as if being married walks you out of poverty, or a lifeline to wealth, is completely incorrect," she said.
Urban Cure did not reveal which local churches it was affiliated with, and Allen stated that the organization is funded through donations.
Sources: America Now