|Vol. 13 No. 10
MAY 14, 2018
by Jonathan Gramling
by Jamala Rogers
by Heidi M. Pascual
Columns & Features
5th Annual Hmong
GALA at Badger Rock
Culture & Excellence
Last Monday, May 7, the University of Wisconsin was kicking off Bucky on Parade with 65 sculptures of Bucky — from the same mold,
but all with individualized decorations — being unveiled throughout the Madison area. One was unveiled in South Madison at the corner
of Hughes Place and S. Park Street. It is called “All Hands on Bucky” and students from the Milwaukee Sign Language School had
provided the handprints for the statue and were present for the unveiling.
As the statue was unveiled, a Brother started shouting out of the sunroof of his car that was parked nearby. He was angry and kept
shouting as he drove away with his head sticking out of the sunroof as he adroitly drove away. In essence, the man asked why there
was a statue of Bucky Badger on S. Park Street — this Bucky has a predominantly white face — but there was no statue of a Black man.
He kept repeating it as he was parked there and as he drove away.
It was ironic — and perhaps symbolic — that his plea fell on deaf ears for most of those present were from the Milwaukee Sign Language
School. But I and a staffer from UW-Madison heard him.
And he had a valid point.
Ever since the late 1950s, some 60 years or more, the heart of South Madison along the Park Street corridor has been the physical and
emotional home of Madison’s African American community. But outside of the people walking in the Villager Mall or perusing other
establishments on S. Park Street or people sitting in their yards on Fisher Street, one would not know from the signage, the architecture
or even the art that South Madison was home to the African American — and more recently Latino and Hmong communities — community.
I did a posting about this on Facebook soon after the incident and asked people what they thought and who should be memorialized in a
statue or a mural. One name — but hardly the only —that came up was Reverend James C. Wright, the driving force behind Madison’s
1950s-1960s civil rights movement and the first executive director of Madison’s Equal Opportunity Commission, which is now part of
Madison’s Department of Civil Rights.
I want the Brother to know that I did hear him and then one night around 2 a.m., I woke up with an idea swimming around my head, one
that made for a restless sleep until duty called me some five hours later.
I raised my kids in South Madison, first on Beld Street and then later on Ridgewood Way. And I lived in South Madison purposely because
it was the most diverse area in the city. And through the years, I have witnessed the flux and flow of the community. And it is more
diverse than ever.
For the longest time, the lot where Bernie Weddig’s service station stood — I used to take my car there to be serviced — has remained
vacant. The lot is on the corner of Badger Road and S. Park Street. It is cater-cornered from the site of the future Madison College South
campus. And S. Park Street is one of the major gateways to the city of Madison with thousands of cars passing on it going to the
University of Wisconsin and the Isthmus area every day. It is a street the people going to UW-Madison football and basketball games
travel on.--READ MORE