156,039

EDITORIAL STAFF

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Contributing Writers
Fabu, Lang Kenneth Haynes, Eileen
Cecille Hocker, Donna Parker, Heidi
Pascual, Lisa Peyton-Caire, Paul
Kusuda, and Alfornso
Zepeda-Capistran

Webmaster
Heidi M. Pascual
Vol. 9   No. 19
SEPTEMBER 18, 2014
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($45 a year)
The Capital City Hues
PO Box 259712
Madison, WI 53725
(608) 241-2000
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gramling@capitalcityhues.com
UNIQUE HITS
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                    Looking back
Health for La Comunidad
The Latino Health Council
Celebrates 20 Years
For most of my life, I have lived my life like I was driving a car 75 miles an hour down a two-lane highway
in a car with no windshield. It’s been thrilling overall and if it weren’t for the grace of God, I would have
driven off that narrow and twisting road of life a multitude of times.

Earlier this week, I caught a respiratory illness that slowed me down a bit and so, I reflected a bit on life. I
tried to calculate how many stories I had written during my 15-year journalistic career. And I came up with
an estimate of 3,120 articles and columns. That’s kind of overwhelming when I look at it as a whole. That’s
a whole lot of people who have touched my life for interviewing people is sometimes and intimate act
where people let their defenses down to tell me their story, to give their voice to the Hues. And I am grateful
and honored that they entrust me with, in some cases, their lives.

People often tell me that they don’t know how I do it. I’ve published an issue every other week, without fail,
for the past eight and a half years. That’s about 220 issues. My “vacations” have been filled with covering
President Barack Obama’s two inaugurations, experiencing Día de los Muertos with friends Teresa and
Juan in Patzcuaro in Michoacán, Mexico. While those were wonderful and exciting times, I was still
focused on reporting, taking everything in with an eye on writing about it as opposed to just relaxing and
being a tourist. There’s always an article in it somewhere.

I am able to keep up this maddening reporting pace — without by the grace of God losing track of who I am
as a person — because people trust me with their stories and I, to the best of my knowledge, have not
broken that trust.

The other major reason beyond incredibly supportive friends and family is that I take it one day at a time. As
soon as I finish delivering the current issue, I will almost forget that I published it because I will focus on
the next issue. Sometimes it is hard for me to remember what I published or wrote two months ago.
I have met some beautiful and fascinating people along the way, some of them famous like Maya Angelou
and some of them unknown, every day people. My life has been enriched by them all.

Two of the people who enriched my life along the way died recently and it has put me into a rather sullen
mood.

I first met Alexis Michelle Booker whom everyone knew as Michelle — her obituary is in this issue — when
she was a teen parent receiving services at the Madison Urban League back in 1984. We would bump into
each other from time to time throughout the years and would sometimes hang out with each other.

On one occasion, Michelle told me something about myself that I didn’t know. Michelle was the kind of
vibrant person who had strong opinions on everything. Michelle said, ‘Jon, you don’t expect people to come
to you like most white people do. You go to where other people are at.’ That was a pretty profound
statement, something I didn’t realize because I was just flying forward in life, aware of everything else
except myself at times.

I think that is what makes me a good journalist. I go to where the people are and try my hardest to see life
through their eyes and not my own. And through their eyes, I have seen so much that is good — and bad —
about the world.

I am saddened that Michelle passed from this earth on August 27th. She was so alive that I think the lights
of the world dimmed a little bit that day. She could be quite electric.

On that same day, August 27, Joann Griffin, the founder of Project Bootstrap and co-founder of Money
Education & Prisons, commonly referred to as MEP, died here in Madison. Joann was a private person and
I think she didn’t want anyone to know that she died because nothing has been said about it in the media
and there wasn’t any service.

Joann was a live wire who was crazy like a fox in securing funding to work on the academic achievement
of African American, Latino and Hmong students back in the 1980s and 1990s. She was a warrior. I worked
for her for a number of years as Project Bootstrap’s accountant, trying to keep up with the vibrancy of the
agency and make sense of it financially.

Joann used to tickle me. She would say to me, ‘I want to go out into the Black community to complain about
you and nobody will hear it.’

Friend and foe alike would have to admit that Joann loved those children like they were her own. She will
be missed by those children who are now adults contributing to this community and world and by those of
us who called her friend.