by Jonathan Gramling
They always say that things come in twos and threes and that includes the passing of people whom you care about and have left
their marks on your life.
On October 1st, Addrena “Supergrams” Squires passed away in Mississippi where she had been taken care of by her daughter
Mona Adams Winston. And then just this past Saturday, I learned that Dr. Fannie Frazier Hicklin passed away at the age of 101 on
Friday, October 18th. And then I just learned about an hour ago that Mother Jacqueline “Jackie” Wright had passed. Three scions
— three queens — of Madison’s African American community and beyond were taken from us in three short weeks.
Anyone who has been involved in Madison’s Juneteenth Day celebrations for the past 30 years knew Addrena. She was always
right there helping out with the committee and was always present at many a community festival and activity. She was also
involved in the Urban League Guild and the Wisconsin Women of Color Network and had been its president, if I am not mistaken.
I would always run into Addrena, something that I would take for granted. People often say that I am everywhere. Well Addrena
was right up there with me.
And then in order to take care of her, Mona moved Addrena down to northern Mississippi where she has lived the past 5-6 years.
Addrena always had a beautiful smile that was framed by the exquisite and colorful hats that she wore. She was always very kind and would always offer a hug. She
will be sorely missed.
I got to know Dr. Fannie Frazier Hicklin during the time that I became a journalist. I had known her daughter, Ariel Ford, for a few decades, but I think Fannie’s life
was centered in Whitewater, for the most part, during her teaching career. And then it was during her retirement that she became more involved in Madison thanks,
in large part, to her membership in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Fannie reminded me of so many women whom I had met when I lived in Mississippi back in the 1970s. She always had an air dignity and Southern charm and grace.
She always retained at least part of her Southern lilt. Fannie was very kind and supportive to me personally. I know she read The Capital City Hues because she
particularly liked my columns when I wrote about President Donald Trump.
I was Fannie’s “official” photographer at her 90th birthday party at the Edgewater Hotel and at her 100th birthday party — one of many — hosted by the AKAs out at
What I so appreciated about Fannie was her tenacity and her giving spirit. Shortly after her 100th birthday celebrations, we had the Great Floods of 2018 that flooded
Fannie’s house at the bottom of the hill on University Avenue where it meets Midvale Blvd. I knew that she had to be hurting inside as she lost tons of memorabilia
that had been stored in her basement. And yet when I came by to do a cover story on her last fall, there she was as placid as ever as we sat on the front stoop of her
home. Again, she had that Southern dignity where should would not burden anyone with her problems. And she was buoyed by the fact that her precious cats, her
constant companions, had made it through the flooding alive.
I have said several times that I want to be like Fannie when I got older because of Fannie’s community mindedness. Even last summer after she had turned 100,
Fannie was volunteering at the registration table for the AKAs Walk It Out event at Warner Park. Giving and volunteering were a part of Fannie’s DNA. I so admire her
sense of public service.
Fannie received her flowers, in a way, while she was still living. Among the recognitions that she received in 2018 was when the entire convention of AKA
delegates sand Happy Birthday to her at the Alpha Kappa Alpha National Boule. What a wonderful history. Fannie was such a wonderful and kind woman who will be
missed by many.
And then there is Mother Jackie Wright who passed tonight, October 21st. I have known Mother Wright, the widow of James C. Wright, since the 1980s when I
worked at the Madison Urban League. Mother Wright was a member of the Urban League Guild and one of the fine cooks from South Madison.
While our paths would cross many times each year, one guaranteed meeting for many, many years was at the Urban League’s King Breakfast held the first year at the
South Madison Neighborhood Center and then at Edgewood High School. As a member of the Guild, along with Anna Mae Walker, Blossom Maiden and others,
Mother Wright would help cook for the hundreds of people who would come to the event.
We would get to Edgewood High School by 5:30 a.m. While the first year, I was primarily in charge of brewing the coffee — something I still do to this day — with each
succeeding year, I helped out more and more in the kitchen helping Mother Wright crack eggs. And when I saw these wonderful cooks start to wash all of the pots
and pans, I would have none of that and started washing the pots and pans each year. Mother Wright and those cooks were something else.
Mother Wright was always supportive of me, even after I left the Urban League, She would ask about my children as well as any girlfriend I might have at the time. I
remember how particularly warm she was to my friend Anna Gardner back in 1994 who flew up from Tampa, Florida to join me for the Urban League dinner. I think
we sat with Mother Wright and she was just as beautiful as can be.
Back when I started The Capital City Hues back in 2007, our very first cover featured Mother Wright dressed in an African-influenced costume. We talked about the
civil rights days and the days when she was an entrepreneur. She was always so humble and said that her biggest role was supporting her husband Jimmy. But
behind every successful man is a strong woman, especially in those days when the basic civil rights of African Americans weren’t necessarily recognized in the city
On the 10th anniversary of The Capital City Hues, I again featured Mother Wright on the front cover and she was just as beautiful with that warm smile. It was the last
time that I would feature her and I am glad that I gave her her flowers while she was still vital to accept them.
I know that all three of these fine women, these three queens, are in Heaven now smiling down on us. I can only pray that they watch down on me and us with grace
and thoughts for our safety. Thank you Addrena, Fannie and Jackie. At least for me, Madison isn’t the same place without you.