by Jonathan Gramling
complete for the neighborhood centers I work with so that they can get reimbursed by the city of Madison — got to keep that money supply flowing — as well as
meet with a friend to walk him through payroll taxes for the bar he purchased last summer and then there was Juneteenth.
For the past 14-15 years, I have been the treasurer for Kujichagulia-Madison Center for Self-Determination. Kujichagulia was set up when Mona Adams Winston and
Annie Weatherby-Flowers wanted to make the Juneteenth Day celebration independent. So they brought me in to do the financial and other things and the three of us
founded Kujichagulia. Since Mona left for Mississippi, the Kujichagulia board has consisted of Annie, Jacquelyn Hunt and myself.
Just as I got out of The Hues graduation mode, my responsibilities for Juneteenth — which was held on June 15th — started to heat up. Now Annie and the
committee do the lion’s share of the work, but doing the finances is important and you have to stay on top of things while Annie is going a million miles a minute
with her vision of how Juneteenth would unfold this year. Somehow Annie has kept Juneteenth going for 30 years now. Both she and Mona deserve kudos for the
cultural impact that they have had on Madison.
Going into the weekend, I had to complete some financials, work at Juneteenth all day on Saturday and then turn around and complete this issue of The Hues by 2:30
p.m. today. Praise the Lord, it looks like I’m going to make it.
The point I want to make is how I sustain it without vacations and weekends off. And I would have to say that somehow, the Good Lord provides.
Going into Saturday morning with the prospect of working at Juneteenth all day already exhausted and then transitioning to publishing a paper that night left me
decimated and wondering how I would be able to do it.
And then there were the people who turned out for Juneteenth. It seemed like I ran into a couple of hundred people I knew and the vibe was so positive. It was like
seeing family at a reunion and the psychic exchange and good feelings left me replenished by the end of the day. God is good even when life isn’t fair and for that I
During the past week or so, I also witnessed some friends get honored at the Madison Area Music Association awards at the Overture Center. I think Angela Puerta
won just about every category that she was nominated for. And Danielle Crim, whom I’ve known since she was about four years old, was honored with a Student of
the Year award. I have watched Danielle develop her musical talents the last few years through the NAACP ACT-SO Competition, through which she has
represented Dane County in the national competition for Music Composition. My hat is off to Danielle and Angela for making their musical mark at such a young age.
And then there was Hanah Jon Taylor who received the Musicnotes Musical Career Recognition Award at the MAMAs. For the past 45 years, Hanah has been a part
of the music scene in Chicago, Europe and Madison. He has been an educator, performer and a promoter through the Madison Center for the Creative and Cultural
Arts, which used to be behind the Overture Center and now through Café CODA, an excellent jazz venue on Williamson Street.
I met Hanah soon after he moved to Madison from Chicago in the mid-1990s. He taught my son Andrew how to play an organ for a little bit at Hanah’s The House of
And while we were friends from then until now, we became especially close through a mutual friend, the late LaMarr Billups who was a special assistant to the UW
chancellor and mover and shaker extraordinaire. LaMarr and Hanah went to the same school in Chicago and I think all three of us were taught by the Jesuits at
some point in our academic careers. But we were close.
And when LaMarr died so many years ago, Hanah and I got closer having meals together and sipping wine talking about just about everything in the world.
So it was personally gratifying to see Hanah get this MANA honor, and honor that he has earned several times over.
It has been a great week after all.
I was out at lunch with a friend at The Bayou restaurant on Atlas Avenue, which has excellent Cajun and Creole food at a
reasonable price, by the way. We were noting our ages and when I said that I was approaching 67 years, he said I had a young
face and wouldn’t have guessed my age.
I have lived a pretty fast-paced life, with some exceptions, since I woke up six mornings a week around 4:30 a.m. to deliver the
old Milwaukee Sentinel. It involved riding a bike for six miles — when I hadn’t begged my wonderful father to drive me and my
brother Tim around — every day, catching a nap and then attending school all day, playing after school and squeezing in some
studying before watching some TV and hitting the hay.
So I think my reality and body have been developed to sustain that kind of lifestyle well past the time when I thought I would be
slowing down. And I am very grateful to still be able to do everything that I do.
When I got done with the last issue of The Capital City Hues, our graduation issue, less than two weeks ago, I was vanquished. I
felt like I left everything on the field of play and then felt totally spent. And yet, I had three sets of financial statements to