|Vol. 13 No. 2
JANUARY 22, 2018
It seems that my column this week reflects the circle of life. Back in November, my Hues partners — there are 11 of us in all — gave me the
authority to bring on a staff reporter to help me out with the writing chores at The Hues, three articles per issue. That will save me 12-15 hours of
work per issue, something that I am very grateful for.
And so I had to find someone familiar with the Madison area’s communities of color, writes well and takes great photographs. I had been giving it
some thought when I ran into Hedi Rudd over at the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center. And it struck me that Hedi fit the bill. So I asked her if she
would consider being The Hues’ staff reporter and she said that she would let me know. A few days later, she told me that she would love to do it
and so Hedi is now our official staff reporter.
Hedi has three articles in this edition of The Hues, stories on Women in Focus’ I Have a Dream Ball, the College Readiness & Success Summit
held at Edgewood College and Sabrina Madison’s Black Excellence Youth Conference. It is great to have this expanded coverage in The Hues of
events I may not have been able to make given that they were held during the King Holiday Weekend. And it is nice to have a different point of
view from someone who is committed to the community on board.
I hope you enjoy Hedi’s articles as we welcome her into the Hues family.
The Capital City Hues family also experienced a death last Friday. I got a call from Luis Yudice. Luis and I don’t talk much now that he is retired.
And when you see someone’s caller ID on your phone, you wonder why for a second or two before you answer. Luis was calling to tell me that our
beloved Lang Kenneth Haynes — Ken to most of us — had died the day before.
I couldn’t believe it although I understood it. Ken had died of pneumonia, complicated by the degenerative muscular disease that Ken had suffered
from, which prompted his move out to Oakland, California to be near family.
It seems like I knew Ken for a thousand years, the beginning of which I cannot remember. I probably had run into Ken — all in a good way — when
he was a member of the Madison Police Department. It was there that he formed close bonds with Luis and fellow officers like Pia Kinney James.
It was when Ken retired from the MPD and moved over to the County Executive’s Office where he eventually became the minority service
coordinator that I formally got to know Ken. But that’s not how I first knew Ken. I first remember Ken as a poet who performed with the likes of the
late Dr. Daniel Kunene, Fabu and Ken. I did stories on them for The Madison Times when I was its editor. Ken would stop by from time to time and
we would talk. I took several photos of Ken in a poet’s stance, one of which appears with this column.
After I left The Madison Times in 2006, it must have been destiny that I ran into Ken at Africa Fest shortly after he retired and asked him on the spot
if he would write for The Hues and he said yes. Ken was the lead columnist for The Hues from that moment until he could no longer write with any
regularity due to his debilitating muscular condition.
I really enjoyed Ken because one could not pigeon-hole him by any means. He was born and raised in New York City and yet he had been a
gentleman farmer out in the Wisconsin River Valley near Taliesin. Ken was a poet, essayist, dreamer, farmer, policeman, civil rights activist and
painter. And these are just the things that I know Ken did. There are probably an infinite number more of the sides of Ken that I never saw.
When I first started The Capital City Hues in 2006 and delivered the downtown area, I would often run into Ken talking to Hanah Jon Taylor at the
Madison Center for the Creative and Cultural Arts. And it just seemed to be so natural, this poet/essayist and jazz saxophonist to be in deep
conversation and sometimes I would join in. What a wonderful break from the road.
Ken’s column, Simple Things, was a wonderful cornucopia of ideas and thoughts. Ken could be very down to earth and sometimes his thoughts
were in deep space. In a few cases, someone asked me what Ken was talking about and I had to admit I didn’t know, but I was sure it had
meaning for someone somewhere.
One of Ken’s most enduring traits was his smile. Here was this man in a large frame, big and tall compared to most and yet he had this gentle
spirit. Now there were a few times when I saw anger in his eyes — he was well in tune with society and what it did to especially large Black men
— but Ken was not going to allow this world to define who he was. And so he had this gentle nature like some Buddha. Through a special sense of
spiritualism, Ken was in control of himself and through that control, he controlled, to a large degree, the world around him. He was a quiet, but
strong force in the lives of many of us here in Madison.
It is at times like this that I hate my run to the next task kind of life where there is little room, it seems, to nurture long-term relationships with
people who have moved away. The here and now continuously presses and squeezes what little time I have. And I regret that I lost contact
somewhat with Ken after he moved to Oakland and stopped writing. Life is not fair.
But I know that while Ken’s muscles didn’t always do what he wanted them to do, his mind was ever active and vigilant and I am sure that he has
written hundreds of columns in his soul. I’ll have to wait for the next stage in our existence to find out what Ken had to say.
Until that moment Ken, we’ll miss you. We always have.