Vol. 9    No. 13
JUNE 26, 2014

The Capital City Hues
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EDITORIAL STAFF

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Contributing Writers
Lisa Peyton-Caire, Eileen Hocker,
Alfonso Zepeda Capistran, Theola
Carter, Fabu, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Heidi Pascual, and Donna
Parker
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                           The Need for the NAACP
As I write this column, I must make the reader aware that I am the treasurer, for now, of the NAACP-Dane
County Branch. And while that doesn’t make me an objective commentator, I have had these feelings for
the past 20-30 years. It goes beyond mere membership in an organization.

When I lived in Mississippi in the mid-1970s, I experienced the violence in that state twice. My house was
burned down when I attended Alcorn State University and the RV I was living in was vandalized with me
in it when I was working on the Congressional campaign of Evan Doss, an independent Black candidate
for the seat that is now held by Bennie Thompson. The search for the three civil rights workers, James
Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, in Mississippi in 1964 also revealed other victims of
racial violence from that state’s sordid past. These are the images that frame our perspectives on race.
The need for the NAACP was readily apparent.

But I also learned that the threat of racial violence has also existed in Wisconsin too. When I was the
interim president for the Urban League of Greater Madison back in 1992, my name appeared in the paper
because of the League’s King Holiday breakfast and later that night, I got a threatening phone call from
what sounded like an elderly white man.

And in this issue of The Hues, Betty Banks talks about the sentencing of Nathan Middleton who viciously
and callously murdered Apina Paul, an African American woman from Fitchburg and burned her body,
even roasting marshmallows over the burning corpse. And there was the case of Henry and Hester Hale,
African American residents of Stoughton, who intercepted a letter addressed to their son that contained
the image of their son being lynched. The threat of racial violence exists here in Wisconsin.

And unless there is a countervailing organized presence in the community, some of these negative racial
forces can feel emboldened to act, especially when it appears that government officials create an aura of
indifference to the plight of African Americans and other people of color. There are some out there on the
fringe who take that as an affirmation of their more virulent and violent racial views.

There is also a need for a strong and united voice to speak out on governmental — and private — policies
that detrimentally impact the African American and other communities of color. For instance, when the
state government was changing state Medicaid policies and criteria, who was there to analyze the issue
and talk about any disparate impact on people of color. These types of policies can have a large
detrimental impact on specific communities like the African American community and there has to be a
strong voice that can speak louder about the impact than their numbers do in weighing in on an issue
through the conventional political process.

In an article in this edition, we report on the Wisconsin NAACP Conference and NAACP-Dane County
Branch’s efforts to bring attention to efforts to enact the Voting Rights Amendment Act to restore some
level of pre-clearance before states with a history of racial discrimination implement voting policies that
may discriminate against voters of color. We need a voice like this to frame the issues and highlight them
so that we know the impact they are having. Again, in a city like Madison with relatively low percentages
of residents of color, we need a voice that will speak out about these issues because that perspective
may not come up through the normal policy-making process.

The NAACP and its partners are planning to start up a Moral Majority movement in Wisconsin. Earlier this
month, the Rev. Dr. William Barber who coordinated the first Moral Mondays in North Carolina came to
Milwaukee to provide a training for the Wisconsin partners in how to create and nourish a Moral Mondays
movement. The Wisconsin coalition is planning some Moral Mondays demonstrations at the State Capitol
in the relatively near future. Again without a voice, the disenfranchised and people in the minority will not
have their interests considered in the public policy arena and the quality of their lives will slowly and
sometimes quickly decline due to the sometimes unconscious actions of the majority.

There has been a need for the NAACP in Dane County since African Americans first came to the area in the
1860s. That need has never ended!