|Vol. 9 No. 23
NOVEMBER 13, 2014
Publisher & Editor
Lisa Peyton-Caire, Eileen Hocker,
Alfonso Zepeda Capistran, Theola
Carter, Fabu, Lang Kenneth Haynes,
Heidi Pascual, and Donna Parker
Webmaster: Heidi M. Pascual
Thanks to Friends
Editor’s Note – I was given the Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky Humanitarian Award by the Madison Downtown Rotary on November 12. Due to time
limitations, I wasn’t able to say everything I wanted to say about the people who have been supportive through the years. And so, I express my
Mom and Dad, I know you are up there watching. This one is for you because of the values you embedded in my siblings and me.
Patty Loew, for me to receive this award, I now know just how great of a writer you are … of non-fiction of course. I have always admired you
as a journalist, community activist and a voice for the Bad River Band of the Ojibwe, who are locked in a life and death struggle for the
spiritual and cultural foundation of who they are as a people, namely the pristine waters of Lake Superior and its wetlands where the wild rice
Mercile Lee, it is truly an honor to be walking in your footsteps. When I was the interim CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison in the
early 1990s, your wisdom and counsel as a member of the board to take the higher road were always invaluable to me. And let’s see. I am a
member of the King Coalition and you are a member of the Coalition. Hmmm!
During the moments of our greatest joy or deepest despair, it is important to realize that we have not gotten there or are alone. I have invited
several tables of friends to share this moment with me because I would not be here if it were not for them.
Indeed it has only been the friendships and support of people whom I have met on this journey that have allowed me to get as far as I have so
There are two social entrepreneurs who are also Rotarians present today: Juan José López and Dawn Crim as well as the late LaMarr Billups.
They invested in The Capital City Hues as partners and the only return on investment that they expect are positive stories about Madison’s
communities of color. Heidi Pascual one of the other investors is in The Philippines and Frances Huntley-Cooper, Al Cooper, Ty Glenn, Enid
Glenn, Greg Jones and Gwen Jones are in Cancun, Mexico on vacation.
There are Paul and Atsuko Kusuda who as Japanese Americans were interred in concentration camps in California during World War II. When
they received reparations for this injustice perpetrated by the U.S. government, they could have easily spent it on themselves feeling justified
because of the pain and slights that they experienced. But instead, they gave it to causes they believed in and they gave funds to Asian
Wisconzine and The Capital City Hues during the height of the Great Recession. Their generosity is one reason why The Hues is being published
today. Their selflessness is always an inspiration.
I’m not sure when Enis Ragland, one of the founders of 100 Black Men of Madison and its first president, and I became friends. I think it was a
result of seeing each other continuously in Madison’s economically-challenged neighborhoods, he as Mayor Soglin the Second’s point person
on Madison’s neighborhoods and I as a proposal writer conducting focus groups for proposals I was writing for the United Way and Madison
Metropolitan School District at the behest of their proposal developer Howard Landsman.
There is Mi Hermana Teresa Tellez-Giron whom I met at Centro Hispano shortly after she came to Madison in the late 1980s. We have been
good friends ever since, sharing the same birth date and a commitment to serving the community. We are brother and sister.
There is Aggo Akyea, past president of the African Association of Madison and one of the forces behind Africa Fest, a celebration of African
culture and contributions to the world. Working alongside people like Aggo has always given me a second wind in life.
And there is Jackie DeWalt, the director of the UW PEOPLE Program helping students of color and first-generation college students achieve the
American Dream so that we can, once more, dream America.
There are Shree and Lakshmi Sridharan who invited me to see their daughter married in a traditional Indian ceremony in 2001 and opened up
the beautiful world of the classical Indian performing arts to behold, write about and photograph over the ensuing 13 years.
I have new friends whom I partner with like Althea Reneé Miller, The Hues’ in-house hip hop poet who connects The Hues and me to a whole
I do have to do a shout out to my son Andrew who couldn’t be here today. Andrew kept me grounded when he was a child and keeps me real
as an adult. Andrew, I don’t want to embarrass you, but I love you dearly.
And I must thank the 3,000 or so people who have shared their voices and stories with me as a journalist over the past 15 years. Their stories
and voices — no matter how simple or profound — have enriched my life and opened my eyes in ways that I have yet to become aware.
Each of their stories is like a piece of the mosaic called humanity.
Each of them is colorful, distinct and beautiful in their own right. Now some people might see a few of these pieces and assume that they can
tell what every piece of this mosaic looks like.. But I have learned the complexity of this mosaic and know that I will never see it completed for
there is always another story being born every day and someone new around the next corner to meet. But I know that it is all so beautiful and a
wonder to behold. And I will continue to cherish and rejoice in the pieces that make up this mosaic of humanity.
I have not gotten here on my own for my life has been touched by a cast of thousands and to them I am eternally grateful.
In closing, back in the early 1970s as a student activist on the UW-Madison campus, although I never met him, I heard the moral voice of Rabbi
Manfred Swersensky and the moral voices of others like Mary Louise Symon and Rev. James C. Wright that gave Madison its moral character.
I would submit that it was their moral voices and the community values expressed by the Madison Downtown Rotary and other civic
organizations that were as much responsible for Madison’s economic growth as any capital investment. They made Madison a community that
people like me and thousands of others wanted to live in and make their own contributions to.
Indeed the Madison Downtown Rotary has been a moral force in Madison all of these years, giving it a strong ethical foundation where
philanthropy is an important civic value. That is why we enjoy a high quality of life today.
And I am encouraged by the effort that the Madison Downtown Rotary has undertaken to make its moral voice more diverse, evolving as the
Madison area evolves so that it can continue to be that moral force that contributes to Madison’s social and economic growth well into the
21st century. Madison’s future and the high quality of life that could be enjoyed by all Madison residents depend on it.
Thank you for this honor and responsibility that you have bestowed on me. Take care!