Vol. 8    No. 9
MAY 2, 2013

The Capital City Hues
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EDITORIAL STAFF

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Rita Adair, Ike Anyanike, Paul
Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Theola Carter, Fabu,
Andrew Gramling, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Rebecca Her, Heidi
Pascual,  & Martinez White
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                A Weekend of Life
This past weekend was a time of milestones. It began with a celebration of Mercile Lee’s legacy at UW-
Madison and the Chancellor’s and Powers-Knapp Scholarship Programs, which Mercile administered since
they had been established by the university. Varsity Hall was filled to capacity as hundreds of former
students and colleagues came to pay tribute to Mercile who is retiring from the university.

In essence, the modern-day history of UW-Madison was in that room, from Chancellor Emeritus Irving Shain
to the latest group of scholars. As the saying goes, all wonderful things must come to an end and Mercile’s
tenure at UW-Madison has been just that, wonderful. The Chancellor’s and Powers-Knapp Scholarship
programs have been an important part of the university’s efforts to not only become more diverse, but to
also graduate more students of color and first generation students from the Madison campus.

Almost equally as long, Mercile has been involved with the King Coalition making sure that Madison’s
celebrations hold true to Dr. King’s legacy. I am sure that Dr. King is smiling down at Mercile now, saying
‘Job well done.’ At least on Madison’s campus, Mercile has been helping make Dr. King’s vision a reality.
The next day, May 4th, was a beautiful day. It was raining in the morning, but at least it wasn’t one of those
cold rains driven by a north wind that feels like a thousand needles piercing your skin. It was hard finding a
parking spot near the Goodman Community Center where the Latino Children and Families Council was
hosting Día de los Niños. There sure were a lot of family-sized vans parked on the streets and a finally
found parking at St. Bernard’s Church a couple of blocks away.

The Goodman Center was filled with children and their parents, from The Loft where Pacal Bayley aka DJ
Pain 1 and company were playing hip hop music to the main youth activity area where Rissel Sanderson
was emcee on the stage, introducing child performers and engaging other children in activities as parents
strolled along taking in the information provided by area health organizations and non-profits. There were
colorful clowns blowing up balloons and handing them out to eagerly-awaiting children, many of whom had
smiles breaking through painted faces.

Día de los Niños has become a community institution, almost a family reunion where people see each other
again after a long winter season. It is always so good to run into people to catch up and find out what is
going on in their lives. And there is so much laughter as the children played in the playground and inside. It is
the perfect tonic for the winter blues. Congratulations to co-chairs Fabiola Hamdan and Teresa Tellez-Giron
for bringing this wonderful day to life each year.

From a community celebration where children were full of life, I went to a commemoration celebrating the life
of the mother of Dzigbodi Akyea, Mrs. Mabel Afua Adatsi, affectionately called Auntie May and Sweet
Sixteen because of her seemingly ageless vitality. Grand Ma, as Dzigbodi referred to her, had died in Accra,
Ghana at the age of 85 on April 10th. Speaker after speaker spoke affectionately of Grand Ma, who had
lived in Madison for five years helping Dzigbodi, and her husband Aggo, raise their three young children.
I can only imagine the difficulty of having a parent be gravely ill a half a world away and not being able to
just leave everything and go to their bedside. And then when the parent dies, not being able to fly there
immediately to begin the process of mourning that loved one, it has to be most difficult and painful.

But Dzigbodi did have “family” in Madison. Westminister Presbyterian Church was filled with members of
Madison’s African community and other friends of Dzigbodi. And in her remarks about her mother, Dzigbodi
talked about community and expressed her deep appreciation to all who had come. She talked about how
the cold winters would have probably driven her and her family back to Ghana long ago. But it is the warmth
of the friendships and sense of community that has kept here in spite of the pledge to leave Madison when
winter is its severest. It was a beautiful and touching moment.

And then as I got home and checked my e-mail messages, I saw that I had received an e-mail from Alison
Bowman who was my contact with Wunk Sheek on the Madison campus when she was an undergraduate.
She and her partner Martin had a baby. I had taken Alison and her baby’s photo at Mercile Lee’s retirement
party the day before. It was good to see that the cycle of life had come back to the beginning of life. And as
I sat outside on a relatively warm spring night when I could hear the sound of vehicles in the distance, but
the air was relatively still, all was good in the world and I slept well.