|Vol. 7 No. 12
JUNE 14, 2012
Publisher & Editor
Clarita G. Mendoza
Rita Adair, Ike Anyanike, Paul
Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Theola Carter, Fabu,
Andrew Gramling, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Eileen Cecille Hocker,
Heidi Pascual, & Martinez White
Darlene and Juneteenth
I couldn’t believe the news that I heard the other night when I got the call that Darlene Hancock had
passed away. I just couldn’t believe it. The last time that I saw her not too long ago, she was as vibrant
and sharp as ever. But the Lord called her after such a wonderful life that has made a lasting impact on
Madison’s African American community and beyond.
Darlene had such a presence and impact that I knew of her long before I ever met her. She was the force
behind the first recognition of African American students by the Links during their formative years, an
event that grew from the recognition of a few students at S.S. Morris AME Church to the recognition of
hundreds of students now at Madison College-Truax. In one of those ironies of life, this issue of The
Capital City Hues contains our coverage of the Links’ event as well as Darlene’s obituary. It is perhaps
an unintended fitting tribute to Darlene’s memory.
It was also Darlene along with her late husband Alan who were the driving forces behind the
establishment of S.S. Morris AME Church back in the 1980s. They basically guaranteed the loan that was
used to purchase the church’s facility on Milwaukee Street. In a fitting tribute, S.S. Morris named its
Fellowship Hall after Alan and Darlene back in 2008. Darlene also established an after school tutoring
program at S.S. Morris in January 2011.
I’ve often thought of Darlene as one of the main community organizers in Madison’s African American
community. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Darlene organized several AKA Founders Day
luncheons. And she recently was the co-chair of S.S. Morris’s 25th anniversary dinner. I am sure that
there are many other things that Darlene was a mover and shaker on of which I am unaware.
Once Darlene set her sights on you to perform a task, there was no refusing her.
I had the privilege of taking photos for S.S. Morris’ 25th anniversary booklet and Darlene contacted me
about a month ahead of when she needed me. She was no half-stepper. And as she looked in my eyes as
she talked to me about the project, I could tell that she was basically evaluating me to make sure that I
would get the job done.
Darlene always had a kind word and a smile for me. But I could see how if she needed to, she could
produce a stare that would stop anyone in his/her tracks, probably honed over time on students when
she was principal at Glenn Stephens Elementary School. To the end, Darlene had a sparkle in her eye, a
life force or energy that moved many of us to get involved or do the right thing.
I will miss Darlene. She was good people who cared about others and the community in which she lived.
Darlene Hancock was one of a kind. I know right now that Darlene, along with Alan, is probably
organizing something in Heaven as I write this tribute. So long Darlene!
In a couple of days, Madison will celebrate Juneteenth Day in Penn Park. While it will only be June 16th,
the official Juneteenth Day is June 19th, commemorating the date, June 19, 1865, when the last Africans
who were slaves in Galveston, Texas found out that they had been set free some 18 months earlier by
Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. It is said that they broke out into a spontaneous
celebration and annual celebrations have been held ever since.
Juneteenth Day is an official Wisconsin holiday. It was signed into law by former Governor James Doyle
back in December 2009. Now it’s not the kind of holiday where everyone gets a day off like Memorial
Day, but Juneteenth Day is still an important milestone in our nation’s history that should be used to
reflect on the price that many have paid for individual freedom in this country. Up to that point in 1865,
many Africans who were slaves gave their lives in many different ways in their quest fro freedom,
whether it was through joining the Continental Army under George Washington to fight in the
Revolutionary War to being put to death for trying to escape to fighting on the side of the Union during the
Civil War. And many gave their lives in the following 110 years or so to make that freedom actually free.
But the fight for freedom never stops. Recent voter suppression bills passed by the Wisconsin legislature
and signed into law by Governor Scott Walker and enacted in other states show us that the fight for one’s
position on God’s green earth never stops. Now the fight isn’t through cannons and musket fire like it
was during the 1860s. It is through the ballot box and voting and through education where people
prepare themselves for economic battle that the fighting is done.
The fight is not over and young people in the African American community especially need to engage this
fight for it is their future freedom that is at risk. If you think conditions today are bad, things can get much
worse. Freedom is not guaranteed!