NAACP Dane County Branch 1st Annual
Freedom Fund Gala
Time for Civil Rights
Clockwise from upper left: WISC-TV 3’s Deana Wright emcees the
gala; Shiva Bidar (l-r), Liliama Fabiola and Brenda Gonzalez meet
gubernatorial candidatwe Mary Burke; Fitchburg Municipal Judge
Hamdy Ezalabrab introduces the keynote speaker; Former
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Bujtler enthralls the
crowd; Former NAACP Presidents or their representatives: Bishop
Eugene Johnson (l-r), David Hammonds, widower of Betty Franklin-
Hammonds, Jewelline Wiggins, Frances Huntley-Cooper and
Emmanuel Scarborough; NAACP Dane County Branch President
Gwen Jones
election.” Butler was alluding to his loss in his bid to be elected Supreme Court justice in the Spring 2008 election.

Butler humorously recounted listening to John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech in 1961 as an African American kid from Chicago’s south side
and being inspired to enter public service.

“I decided then at the age of eight that I was going to go into law and do something with my life,” Butler recounted. “Kennedy struck a chord
with me. I developed a plan. I had it all worked out. I was going to become a federal prosecutor, not a defense lawyer, a prosecutor. And I
was going to lock up all of the bad people in Chicago. We all knew who they were, but no one did anything about it. I was going to use that
career path to become Chicago’s first Black mayor, not Harold, Butler. And after a couple of terms, I was going to use that to mount a
campaign for the U.S. Senate. You see, I figured even back then that a young, good-looking African American senator from the state of
Illinois would one day become president. It was my plan. He took it. Talk about staying in the wrong place at the wrong time. Anyway, I
moved to Wisconsin and missed out on my chance to really make history. It’s a true story.”

Butler recounted the history behind the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by giving examples of the conditions that existed for African
Americans and other people of color.

“You see, in my lifetime, I have lived to see church bombings kill four little girls attending Sunday school in Alabama,” Butler emphasized. “I’
ve seen civil rights workers turn up missing and then dead in Mississippi. I’ve lived to see people jailed for trying to register to vote. I’ve
seen people try to march in a non-violent manner in 1963 only to have Birmingham police chief Bull Conner to turn fire hoses upon them, turn
the dogs loose on them and then have his deputies beat them with night sticks. I’ve seen young men who were killed looking for a job
simply because they were on the wrong side of the street in Cicero, Illinois. I remember the ‘Colored Only, Whites Only’ drinking fountains in
restrooms of the Deep South. When we were teenagers, my brother and I were chased off of a beach in Chicago that was for whites only. I
personally knew James Cameron who was America’s last living survivor of a lynching. Unfortunately, his two friends did not survive that
By Jonathan Gramling

Part 1 of 2

Like everything else it
has done since it
received its charter in
May 2014, the NAACP
Dane County Chapter hit
the ground running with
its 1st Annual Freedom
Fund Gala held October
18 at the Sheraton
Madison Hotel. Over 200
people turned out to see
the former presidents of the NAACP Madison Branch honored and to
hear the keynote speaker, Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice
Louis Butler Jr. address the evening’s theme, ‘All In For Justice &
Equality.’

Butler led off his remarks by reminding people of the importance of
voting.

“November 4th, November 4th, November 4th,” Butler emphasized. “I
can’t tell you how many people came up to me after my last election
campaign and said, ‘Judge, I’m going to vote for you’ after the
lynching. I will never forget Governor George
Wallace standing on the steps of the Alabama
State Capitol in 1963 uttering the now
infamous phrase, ‘Segregation now!
Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!’”

It was the street demonstrations that caused
John F. Kennedy to propose the act and his
assassination on November 22, 1963 that led
to its passage by Congress.

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