Governor Tony Evers and State Rep. Shelia Stubbs Team Up
Fighting Institutional Racism
|State Representative Shelia Stubbs
“As an elected official at the County Board, I began to realize that our statistics were coming back and the data was very troubling,” Stubbs said. “We put this task
force together and I said, ‘Wait a minute. We have to analyze our practices and policies.’ So my work started at the County in creating an Office of Equity and
Inclusion. We started analyzing our own county government and agencies and our practices and policies.”
In 2018, Stubbs ran for and won the 77th district seat for the Wisconsin Assembly. She was ready to take the fight for a level playing field to another level. The
environment was conducive to try to create a level playing field on the state level, especially since newly-installed Governor Evers had focused on diversity and
inclusion initiatives at the WI Dept. of Public Instruction.
“I said, ‘You know what,” Stubbs said. “It’s not just a problem in Madison and Dane County. It’s a problem across the state.’ In a meeting I had with Governor Evers,
I made it very clear that this is an initiative for me. And I really wanted him to partner with me. The governor said that it was an initiative for him. This was on his
radar and on my radar since I had been elected and took office in January. And then the Governor’s Office reached out to my office and said, ‘We’re ready to work
with you on this initiative.’ I was so ready. We worked together for his executive order and as he worked with me, we worked with the Black Caucus leadership.
The Black Caucus that it was a priority for them.”
On November 12, Evers and Stubbs announced a one-two punch to get diversity and inclusion efforts operating on a different level in state government. Evers
announced Executive Order #59 and Stubbs and Senator Lena Taylor rolled out Bill 4063.
“In 11 months, to be in a place where I can roll out a bill on this important work and the governor signs an executive order, that was huge,” Stubbs said. “It was
historic. Senator Taylor said that all of the Black legislators prior to me had worked on this and couldn’t get it done.”
A governor can issue an executive order to implement initiatives and policies within the context of the approved state budget and Wisconsin statutes. Evers issued
Executive Order #59 to kick-start the initiative.
“Executive Order 59 specifically gives the directive for personnel and bureau management under the Dept. of Administration to start equity training, to require
training of all state employees, to make sure that policies and practices are looked at from a diversity and inclusion lens,” Stubbs said. “It gives a directive for the
Affirmative Action Council to work on equity plans. And it sends a directive for all agencies to develop an equity plan. It directs people to undergo implicit and
explicit bias training and all of the training needs to be completed by the end of December 2020.”
And then Bill 4063 would create a structure with funding to embed diversity and inclusion efforts into state government.
“First, we are going to create an Office of Equity and Inclusion,” Stubbs said. “This office will have five full-time positions located in the Dept. of Administration. And
it’s going to cost us in the 2019-2020 budget $347,700 to fund those positions. Second we’re going to create a council, an Office of Equity and Inclusion Council that
is going to be made up of the secretary or deputy secretary for every state agency. Third, every state agency would receive one full-time equity and inclusion
position, which is huge. With all of those positions, it’s going to cost the state in the 2020-2021state budget $615,000. The bill says not only are you going to do this
work, we want you to work on equity plans. And that is really the meat of equity. It is looking at and analyzing every state agency that we have and it is telling us
what each agency’s initiatives are and what areas they aren’t doing a great job on. Why can’t you hire a more diverse staff? What policies, practices and trainings
do you need? It gives you this microscope to look at each department and then these plans are due to the council and the council reports to the governor. And the
governor appoints the equity director for this department, which is huge because everything funnels up to the governor.”
Stubbs and Taylor will formally introduce the legislation on November 25th and already have 20 co-sponsors. But it is one thing to propose legislation. And it is
another thing to usher bills through a legislative gauntlet that many bills don’t survive.
“You can introduce a bill and it never gets a hearing,” Stubbs said. “There are bills in the Capitol that have been introduced and have never been put on a calendar.
It could take days, months or years. My goal is I need to move this. And I am very mobile to let our community to know what is going on. We’re going to ask people to
call their legislators to ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor. Everyone needs to make a call for this is truly a call to action. And I need all hands on deck and all of
Governor Evers cabinet members on board.”
Stubbs is determined to make it happen. And she knows that the bill will need bi-partisan support in order to make it through the legislature.
“I have had conversations with some Republicans,” Stubbs said. “It piques some people’s interest. That’s why I have reached out from office to schedule some
meetings, to go by and talk a little more in detail. Our goal is to get one Republican on the bill and then they could work with other Republicans and help it get a
formal hearing. If I can get at least one Republican to join me in this effort, it gives this bill a better opportunity. And hopefully we can move it through both houses.”
Stubbs feels that this issue should be of concern to all Wisconsinites on both sides of the aisle, urban and rural, White and Black. It negatively impacts everyone
directly or indirectly.
“People know that I am going to go to the Capitol and fight on behalf of all people,” Stubbs emphasized. “And that is what this bill is about. It’s fighting on behalf of all
of us. It’s a crisis and people should be outraged. And it shouldn’t be the same couple of people. It can’t just be Black people talking about this. It has to reach
across the aisle. Once people realize that we have a problem, the better chance that this bill gets an opportunity.”
Hopefully eyes will open to the possibility of a new day that this bill envisions, a Wisconsin state government that puts everyone on the same level playing field to
excel and prosper.
By Jonathan Gramling
State Representative Shelia Stubbs has always had the fight for civil rights flowing through her veins. From her
work with the NAACP Madison Branch to her work as a probation and parole officer, Stubbs could see that there
wasn’t a level playing field for African Americans in Wisconsin and could clearly see the pipeline to prison that many
African American men experienced. She also knew that it was the policies and procedures of governmental
organizations that created the playing field.
“I knew exactly what needed to be done,” Stubbs said. “It’s my life. It’s my passion as an African American woman.
There are so many disparities for life and death with the Black community. And I know firsthand, it’s not just the
Black community that is suffering with racial disparities. It’s the Latino community. It’s the Hmong community. It’s
many communities. But the Race to Equity Report identified the disparities for Black and White as the biggest in the
nation, even identifying vast poverty in Dane County being the highest across this nation. We have a Top 10
university down the street that has some of the greatest researchers in the world. And we have an issue dealing
In 2006, Stubbs was elected to be the county board supervisor for the district that included the Broadway Waunona
Lake Point area where she lived.