Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Contributing Writers
Lisa Peyton-Caire, Eileen Hocker,
Sujhey Beisser, Theola Carter,
Fabu, Lang Kenneth Haynes, Heidi
Pascual, Paul Kusuda, and Donna

Heidi M. Pascual
Vol. 10   No. 20
CTOBER 1, 2015
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The Capital City Hues
PO Box 259712
Madison, WI 53725
(608) 241-2000
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                         On the Whitney Young Award
Special Feature this Issue:
An Interview with Joan Armatrading:  
Interpersonal Reflections
I was watching TV tonight and I watched the movie Claudine starring Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones,
for which Diahann Carroll was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. It was produced in 1974
and included a soundtrack by Gladys Knight. I must admit that I had tears during this movie because of its
subject matter and the acting was oh, so good. It was about a single mother with six children and the man
who fell in love with her and dealing with all of the issues and feelings that went along with that. It was
great to watch a movie about giving people instead of superheroes and self-absorbed people.

It tells you what kind of a society that we live in and the perceptions of African American women that
Diahann Carroll didn’t win the Academy Award and instead Halle Berry was the first African American
actress to win the Best Actress Oscar for her role in Monster’s Ball 27 years later, in a role that wasn’t
flattering to African American women. I do love Halle Berry. Don’t get me wrong. But Claudine was a movie
that uplifted the community and led it forward. Monster’s Ball did not. Monster’s Ball did not move me the
way that Claudine did. Claudine is as relevant now as it was in 1974. Monster’s Ball, in my humble opinion,
was never relevant. I’m just saying …


I kind of went backwards in the preparation of my acceptance speech for the Urban League’s Whitney Young
Jr. Award. It was an awesome recognition. Usually when I give a speech, I won’t write it down. I will just
sort things through and then let the spirit run with me. I want to connect with the people in the room and not
stand there reading a script. But I want to write it down now and publish it. There were some things that I
wanted to say, but forgot or I ran out of time and cut it short. So the following is a close approximation of
what was said.

“It’s nice to come home to the Urban League and receive this award. Thank you Dr. Anthony. I have been
watching what you have been putting in place at the Urban League and I look forward to seeing the great
things that the Urban League will be doing in the future.

On some levels, I feel that I do not deserve this award. I have done nothing … But we have accomplished a
lot. Even when I am out in the community with The Capital City Hues, when it seems like I am at every
community event, I still don’t do it alone. I would like the partners of The Capital City Hues to stand up and be
recognized. These social entrepreneurs invested in a dream and helped it become a reality. I am very
grateful for what they have done.

I would also like to recognize my son Andrew. He wrote a column called China Dispatch for The Hues during
the four years that he lived in China. Andrew is a much more gifted writer than I and I hope that he will be
able to find a situation where he will be able to develop his God-given talent.

None of us springs out of the foam of the sea fully developed like a Greek god. We become who we are
through the people around us who mentor us and help us become who we are. And so, I must give thanks to
the late … and great Betty Franklin-Hammonds who was the CEO at the Urban League for eight years while I
worked here. Betty used to say, “Gramling” — Betty always called her friends by their last name —
“Gramling, you have more talent than you know what to do with.” And then Betty and the Urban League
pulled that talent right out of me and allowed me to develop that talent in service to the community. I am very
grateful for what Betty did for me.

Those were great times back then. It was like being in the land flowing with milk and honey. There was Rev.
James C. Wright and Gene Parks. There was Reverend Charles Garel and Orlando Bell and Joseph Thomas
and Joe Hill and Jim and Joan Jones, so many people who were committed to civil rights. Those were heady
times when I thought we would gain ground. Those were exciting times.

But there have also been times when I felt as if I was wondering lost in the desert, sometimes a dessert of
my own making. There was a time last fall when I was wandering in that desert. I hadn’t had a vacation in
almost nine years and I was toast, feeling totally burned out.

There was an event being held in the Darbo-Worthington neighborhood at the Salvation Army. Today Not
Tomorrow, Club TNT, was holding a community dialogue with members of the Madison Police Department. I
was feeling comfortable at home and didn’t want to go out on a chilly dark night where I had already put in a
full days work. But I went.

When the program had been going on for a while, Sina Davis, a great community organizer in the Allied Drive
neighborhood, left the gym and I followed her out because I wanted to get some comments from her for the
article that I would write. And a young brother followed me out of the room. And he told me how thankful he
was for The Hues, that he enjoyed the newspaper and got a lot out of it.

Hearing his words was like getting a ladle of water when I was wandering in the desert. And I realized that I
had been giving him ladles of water in his own desert where he may not have been surrounded by role
models, that The Hues gave him stories about African American men who were succeeding in spite of the
obstacles that may have been placed in their way. We had sustained each other. [Dionte Prewitt came up to
me afterwards to talk. He was the young man I had been talking about.]

In closing, I would like to paraphrase from the coach’s speech in the film On Any Given Sunday to a team
that has been divided.

Either we heal as a community and work together on the challenges and issues that this community faces or
we will die as individuals.

Once again, I thank the Urban League for this award. I love you all.