The Black Student Strike Forum

The Black Student Strike Forum


[ Music ]>>Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us here today. Welcome to a recollection of the
1969 Black Student Strike panel. Before we begin, we would like to
read the Multicultural Student Center and the Black Cultural Center’s
land acknowledgement. The University of Wisconsin
Madison occupies Ho-Chunk land, a pace their nation once called Dejo
[phonetic], since time and memorial. In an 1832 treaty, the Ho-Chunk were
forced to [inaudible] this territory. Decades of ethnic cleansing followed when both
the federal and state government repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, sought to forcibly
remove the Ho-Chunk from Wisconsin. This history of colonization informs our
shared future of collaboration and innovation. Today UW Madison respects the inherent
sovereignty of the Ho-Chunk nation, along with the 11 other first
nations of Wisconsin. Please take a moment to consider the many
legacies of the violence, displacement, migration and settlement that
bring us together here today. And please join us in uncovering
such truths every day. Thank you for joining us to celebrate the
Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Black Student Strike. My name is Shiloah Coley. I’m a third-year Chicago
Posse scholar here on campus. I’m studying journalism with certificates
and studio art in African-American studies, and I’m also the co-editor and chief of the
Black Voice here on campus, along with Bree.>>Hello everyone. So my name is Breanna Taylor. I also serve as the co-editor
in chief of the Black Voice. I’m a proud PEOPLE scholar. This is my fifth year. I’m studying Afro-American
studies with an emphasis in art, and I am also completing my gender women’s study
certificate as well as one of the co-chairs for Black History Month planning committee,
and this is my lovely committee in front here. [ Applause ]>>So today, it is our hope to commemorate
the work of former students on campus who participated and organized
the Black Student Strike. We’d like to thank the Black History Month
planning committee, university communications and marketing, the Black Voice,
the Black Cultural Center, the Multicultural Student
Center and university archives.>>This year’s theme, strike
in black, an unmatched legacy, is inspired by history from this very campus. Fifty years ago in 1969, black students held
a strike and demanded that their needs be met. For some students, this meant forming what we
now know as the Wisconsin Black Student Union to ensure that black students across campus
were connected an in community with one another. Those brave students gave 13 demands
to the chancellor of the university and constantly held UW Madison’s leaders
accountable to the empty promises they made. Their dedication, hard work and
sacrifice allowed students like us to have the Multicultural Student
Center, the Black Cultural Center, the Afro-American Studies Department and
the endurance to continue this fight. While we continue to hold this
university accountable to this day, we still remember the legacy our
predecessors left for us to pass down.>>We are excited to have some of the
original organizers and participants of the 1969 student strike here with us today. First, Liberty Rashad, who I
had the honor of interviewing. Liberty finished the spring semester of 1969
at UW Madison but did not return in the fall. Returning to New York, she continued as an
activist, community organizer and youth worker. She raised three sons while earning a bachelor’s
degree in psychology from Marymount University and a master’s degree in
education administration from Lesley University in
Cambridge, Massachusetts. A retired educator, school director and business
owner, she owns and runs Huckabuck Village, a bed and breakfast in the historic
Treme neighborhood of New Orleans.>>Hello everybody. Thank you. Thank you.>>And to the right of Miss
Liberty we have Wahid Rashad. Wahid did not return to UW
Madison for the fall 1969 semester. In 1978, he legal changed his name
from Willie Edwards to Wahid Rashad due to this involvement and the
Black Muslim Movement. He raised three sons and became a drug
rehabilitation counselor in New York City and was later employed as
a work release counselor for the Baltimore City Jail then
as a sales manager and trainer. Moving to Chicago where he currently resides,
he was employed in the mortgage industry as a broker, trainer and group
manager until his retirement. [ Applause ]>>And then to the left of
Liberty we have John Felder. John earned a bachelor’s degree in
economics history from UW Madison in 1974. Early in his career he taught freshman
orientation classes at Hunter College in Manhattan and wrote art criticism
for the New York Amsterdam News. He spent 23 years as an administrator with
Teamsters Union Local 237 in New York, retiring in 2008 as director of membership. He resides in Brooklyn, New York, currently. [ Applause ]>>Last, but certainly not least,
we have Miss Hazel Symonette. Hazel lost the fellowship that
supported her PhD work as a result of her participation in the strike. She went on to spend more than
50 years studying and working on the UW Madison campus earning two
master degrees at the university as well as a doctorate in educational policy studies. [ Applause ] She founded and directed the
Excellence Through Diversity Institute and the students’ [inaudible] institute. She works part-time as a specialist in social
justice and culturally responsive evaluation at the Wisconsin Center for
Educational Achievement on campus. In 2014, she received a city-county Reverend
Martin Luther King, Jr. humanitarian award for decades of work on campus
and in the community. [ Applause ]>>Now we want to start with
some of the questions. Thank you all for being here today to start. So, getting into the escalation of the strike
and before the student strike actually happened. What was hardest about transitioning to campus
as a black student on campus in the 1960s?>>For me, the hardest thing was there
were so little of us, so few of us. And adjusting to that. And resisting the latent white superiority of
some of the students on the dorm, you know. I came here through the Doyle Program, the
five-year program, but I had put a lot of work into making sure that my scores
were good, and they were. But the assumption was that I was
this ignorant nigger coming up here, and I should be happy to be here. And so I had a lot of resentment on that score. And that was pretty much the only thing. I did find, and I must say, I
found a lot of great people, white and black, that were students here. But the thing that I resented the most
was that latent sense of superiority that I was somehow inferior because I was black. You know, which I wasn’t. You know, I felt I was equal to every
student, and I was qualified to be here. So, I came here with that. And then I was stunned that there
was no black organization here. So those were the things
initially that I responded to.>>There also was a sense that, for some
of us, that we were here on a humble, those of us who were here
on the five-year program. As Willie just pointed out, his
grades were very, very good. Most of our grades were very, very good. But the five-year program was one that
was to provide financial assistance to us. But there was almost an underlying theme
that while you’re not quite legitimate here. Now that might have been, that
might have come internally, but also was suddenly expressed
externally as well.>>And I think the fact that there were
just so few of us, as Wahid pointed out, when we arrived in 1966, there were
90 African-Americans total, all –>>Freshmen, sophomore –>>Graduates and everybody.>>Yeah.>>So that, when you do the math is like one
quarter of one percent of the 35,000 students. So we were just this minute
little drop in the bucket. And that was really shocking to be coming
to such a large state university and find so few African-American students. Even though it was 1966, I,
coming from New York City, expected to find more people of color here. There were 300 African students,
which was interesting. But yet, to recruit African-American
students, for some reason, that –>>It was hard.>>Yeah, that was difficult. So, we had an immediate concern
upon arrival at just the numbers, the sheer, you know, disparity in numbers. So we immediately wanted to organize, and that’s exactly what it took,
and that’s exactly what we did. We just started coming together, and we became a
very tight-knit group because we were so small. We knew everybody. We were close to everybody. And we worked really hard
together and really well together. There was a great sense of community among us. And so in some senses, it
was a positive experience because we had this small tight-knit group. We had the CP corners we
called it in the rathskeller. I don’t think it’s still there. It’s not exactly there, but it was a
little corner, and that was our spot, and that’s where we had every
day, kind of a refresher with each other, you know, talking on issues.>>Between classes.>>Yeah. We met there a lot. So we had some fun as well as we
had some hard work to be done. And that was kind of what it was like
for us in 1966 and ’67 and ’68 –>>Sixty-eight.>>Yeah, it went on. But the numbers did grow to
some extent, but not enough. As we see even today.>>So to my understanding, the black
students had been meeting with administrators in the years leading up to the strike. Can you walk us through what
some of the meetings looked like and the promises that had been made?>>First of all, first of all, in 1967, we had
started the organization in October of ’66. I called a meeting. Liberty was there. Her brother, David was there. There was about 13 of us,
and it was in this building. And we created an organization
called Concerned Black Students. That was the name, because we were concerned. So it was very simple. 1967, January, second semester of our freshman
year, we announced some demands, some issues. We started right out, boom. We’re a black student organization. We met right in front of the steps. We called the press, and we said
we’re a black student organization. We’re concerned about the fact
that there are very few of us here. We see a need for black professors. We see a need for black administrators. We see a need for a curriculum that speaks
to us, because we want to be educated. We want to be doers when we leave
the University of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin has made
a commitment to racial equality, and we feel that they have been slacking. So we started off right off, boom, boom, boom. We proceeded in 1968, ’67,
we issued some demands. We met with the chancellor. He said okay, this sounds good. And again, we used their truth. I am committed. And we said you say you’re
committed, but what are you doing? This is pitiful, you know. And that was the strength that we used. We didn’t do a lot of screaming and shouting. We didn’t bring in any guns and clubs. We just hit them over the head with the truth. And we just kept using the truth. And we had confidence with the truth. So, they submitted, they said
yeah, we’re going to do it. 1968, we had the proctor committee where
Liberty and I, we stayed Thanksgiving, and we spoke to the proctor was a
black administrator that was brought in to keep us down, to keep us calm. But he was an ally. And there was four faculty members. So, there was basically five
of them and just two of us. But they conceded, and they wrote it
up and submitted it to the faculty, but it was the Board of Regents that
the university felt a lot of pressure that was pressuring them to hold it down. But every time we went to the university, they conceded to the demands,
but then they reneged, you know. And so those were some of the
things that led up to 1969. We made constant efforts every year
of submitting the same requests. And we went through the community. We talked in the community. We were on TV. We were in the newspapers and things like that. So we had people that understood what
we were about and what we wanted.>>We were bold, and we were
also very, very principled. Earlier today someone asked how
we were able to sustain ourselves as students, being such a small minority. What propelled us to keep going forward? And it is indeed because we entered
into this fight with principle and because we also had sense
of self-confidence. And we knew that the time was right. This wasn’t just particular to
Wisconsin, of course, as you know. Universities across the country were
establishing African-American studies departments, which was one of our major demands. We were very, very insistent upon it, but
we knew this is the place where we are, and this is where we get certain things done. So we were principled, and we were also bold.>>So now as black students on campus, you
all took it in your own hands to organize on your own and educate yourselves since
the university wasn’t doing that educating.>>We did.>>And you put together the civil rights
conference, the black revolution to what end. And that took place right
before the strikes began. How did the messages of the
speakers, how did that influence you in how you went about the strike?>>Well, in 1968, the university, when Dr.
Martin Luther King passed away, they called me and they said, come to the next
day, they called me that night. So I went. And there was all of these
professors, and there was a chancellor, and there was the administration there. And I started telling stories
about the kids when I would go home to the southside of Chicago were doing nothing. And again, the university had
professed a need to do this and that. And we said we want more
speakers and we wanted demand. They committed to bringing up speakers,
but they allowed us to choose the speakers. So, we brought Gwendolyn
Brooks, Muhammad Ali was –>>Nathan –>>Tony Morris and Nathan Hare,
who’s a black psychologist, and he did things on the West Coast. We had C.L.R. James who was a revolutionary,
speaking on the Haitian revolution. So we had all these people, and they spoke to the general university community,
you know, at various times. So that was a build up too. We had supporters being built
up that way, you know, so.>>And I think it was something
that we did not just that one time, but we were able as a group
to invite people here. And we had several times where we had the
thinkers, the great thinkers of the day coming to help us think about how we could
approach the work that we had to do here. And so we did a lot of self-education because
the university didn’t have an avenue for us. So we really worked hard, and I think that
was a great assist in the sense that we knew that things were happening
all around the country, and people were doing, and
we were sharing ideas. We had lots of opportunities to talk with
people who were doing similar kinds of things and making similar kind of
demands of the universities. We traveled to other schools
to see what was going on. So we educated ourselves because the
university was in need of this work that we needed to do, but we needed help. And so we were able to get
great thinkers to come here. We were very blessed.>>Can I make one point? When you see in the demands
we said we want to be there. We want the choice. We felt qualified. It wasn’t something we were being bold. But we felt qualified by virtue of the hours
that we put in in learning and thinking about these things and discussing these issues. So if you say, well, what type of department. We felt qualified to respond to that. We felt qualified to say
what type of administrators, what type of professors, you know.>>Absolutely.>>When I arrived in 1968
thinking I was passing through, be careful where you’re think you’re
passing through honey childrens. Fifty-some-odd years later, here I am. No regrets, but I entered and stood on the
shoulders of the powerful work that Willie and Liberty had been doing at that time. I came as a grad student from
a historically black college. And so coming to this place was, as
you might imagine, quite an experience. However, what Willie and Liberty are talking
about with regard to, even though we were few, there was a comradery, a support, a sense
of togetherness that helped sustain us. And the foundation was laid, and I benefitted
from the organizational work that they had done because they had been here since 1966. I came in ’68. And stuff got moving real fast, real fast. And I came here to do a PhD in social
psychology and was in the process of shifting from that department, which I came
to feel had a of focus on grains of sand and not enough on the beach. A lot of focus on individual trees
and not enough on the forest. Given the times we were living in and the
expectations of our communities that those of us who were privileged to be students,
there’s an expectation that we would show up in these places and spaces and prepare
ourselves to be of service for the greater good and to crack it open for
those who were not here. And I did not find myself
being prepared in those ways. So I was in the process of actually shifting out
of that department into community organization, social work, so that when I lost through the
participation in the boycott and the strike that jumped off in ’69, second semester,
that was a major, major loss for me. However, the loss of Willie and Liberty,
the opportunity to get an undergrad degree from this place is part of what fired me
up over all these years to do the work that I do and the way that I do it. Because we are standing on shoulders of young
people who came here and sacrificed greatly. These are two, and I’m so grateful that they
were able to come back, because it wasn’t safe for them to come back the first time. [ Applause ] And there are some who lost
their lives in the despair because we had great hopes and expectations. We were living in a time that there
was an, if we just put in, sacrifice, that somehow we would move the needle. And Kenny Williamson is another
one that I remember –>>Yes, yes.>>who was phenomenally brilliant
and lost through the despair. But there are others. There are others. We are standing on shoulders
of good people of folks. We don’t have their names, but we’ve
got these two names right here. Okay. Just know that. And there’s an expectation that those of
us who are here now, that there are folks who are going to be standing on our shoulders. So.>>You can’t leave out John. John, he came at a time when he
was like a breath of fresh air. He stood out. Because we were doing it, and we
didn’t always have the numbers. But one thing I could say is that whenever
there was a crisis or something like that, the black students came together.>>We rise up.>>Absolutely.>>We rose up. John was one of the hard workers
that came later on, and he was, we were like shew, we’ve got another one. We were glad for John. Because John could get on TV and just burn them. He could articulate and demonstrate
and have people pulling out handkerchiefs, wiping their head. Saying when is this boy going
to get off this stage?>>There was also a great sense of harmony
amongst the organizers of the strike. Whatever disputes we had, we hatched them out. But we also did, to some degree, for
some of us, it was as if we also had, not a segregated college, but a paralleled
college, because we knew that we could count on, theoretically, at least the 1,000 other
black people who were there, just like us. And so it was almost as if
we had another college. And we also became, many of us became
lifelong friends, interactive with each other. I certainly hope that that occurs amongst
the black students that I see here today. And just think about it, 50
years from now will be 2069. Will you be there?>>So as you all mentioned before, kind
of laying this groundwork that you all did in preparation for the strike and even during, as well as in community with
one another on campus. What did this look like for white students who
may have wanted to participate in the strike or just kind of preparation for it? What did this look like for you all?>>We welcomed it. We needed their support. I mean we couldn’t have done
it without them, you know. There were many, many times. Libby was describing earlier today when a National Guard man came
at her with a baton, you know. And she was wrestling on one end,
and he was wrestling on the other, and she slipped, and she thought she was gone. It was students that saved her. You know, I was in a demonstration
working with the anti-war movement. And they came in, and I was like,
they was coming right at me. I was at the front, and it was a white student
who pulled me back, you know, like that. So we always had that type of support
from the liberals, the left, like that. Because, like I said, even though there was
this implicit racism, there was a lot of people. I came here because I heard that
Wisconsin was a progressive school. And there were progressive
people here, you know. But it was disappointing because
there wasn’t enough of it. But you know. So we did have those supporters
and those allies. And Libby can really describe it,
because the way we organized the strike, we kept them confused. We had people that were going to be marchers,
five people, and then we each had a group. And we’d take a group here and a group there,
and we had them running every which way. But –>>We kept them moving.>>But she can describe how we went
into the dorms and talked to the people. And they responded.>>They did. And it was actually surprising to me. But we knew we had to recruit people. And I mean, to get thousands
of students to walk out, you need people with you to
shut down the university. And I remember going into the dorms and
thinking, how am I going to explain it? How am I going to talk to these people? And they listened. They actually did listen. And we talked about it, and we had discussion. And to my big surprise, the next
day, thousands of people came out. So I mean we did the work that helped to
explain it so that people could understand. And they realized that our cause was righteous. And they did show up. And they put up a good fight with us. There were also lots of organizations on campus,
lots of, you know, activists, organizations, who were very involved in the
anti-war movement at the time. And we had been supportive of them. And they, in turn, became supportive of us. I remember one time going, I think it was the
night before the big first day of the strike, and I was assigned to go to a meeting
of all the SDFs and the young dems and anti-war movement people to
explain what our strategy was. And so I was invited to the meeting. And I basically told them
what we were planning to do. And I thought it was a closed meeting. Come to find out, it was headlines
in all the papers the next morning. So I thought I had blown the whole thing. Here I was told them everything
that was going to happen. That was a bit surprising because I had depended
on the activists to know that, you know, we weren’t supposed to be having
press or anybody outside of the groups that were going to be involved at the meeting. But it turned out it didn’t destroy everything. It still went off, but I was really scared
when I realized I had made a big mistake by not checking to see who was in the room. That was another, you know,
but we were working together. There was a sense that there were
groups that were supportive of us. And we, in turn, supported
them when they made a call for the anti-war demonstrations, we were there. And they came to support us. And we could not have done
the strike without them. So it’s very important to have allies. It’s very important to work to develop allies in
situations like this where you have, you know, large numbers of people who were
not in your direct immediate circle. You have to learn to work with people. And you have to be able to articulate. And that was what we learned,
how to articulate the issues so that people could identify and understand.>>Not a lot of angry talk. No bullets, no sticks. We just used the truth and words.>>So as you all mentioned, in having the
National Guard come in during the strike, did this change up tactics or strategies for
organization, or how did this impact you all?>>They couldn’t keep up with us.>>Okay.>>We had them going. We were confident. I mean we had put in hours and the time,
and we had other demonstrations where they, because there was always
informers in the group, you know. I mean, they had informers
in the Panthers, everywhere. So we knew that. But what we did this time was, like I
said, we had these five or six people. They’d take a crowd here and a crowd
there, and we had them running.>>Hit and run. Hit and run.>>Hit and run. Hit and run. Go to this building. Go to that building. At 9:00, you go here. And then we had people in cars that would go
to the group and say now, you guys leave here, and we want you to go there, you know. So we would tell the marshals
and stuff like that. So it was well-coordinated. John was one, and John could get up and speak
and five people, and he’d go into the gospel.>>Well it was, to have the National Guard
on the campus was also on the front to the, you know, to many people here at the university, even those who were not actively
participating in the strike. But, and speaking of people of who were
not necessarily actively participating in the strike, I recall seeing professors
have their classes out on the lawn on [inaudible] hall as opposed to
having classes in their classrooms. This was in support of the strike. And I also remember one time several of
us went to the college of agriculture. Very few, ah. We went to the college of agriculture, and we wanted to make it
difficult for classes to proceed. In a very, of course, peaceful way. But we started our changes and our singing. And the response from the agriculture students
at that location was just one of silence. It was not one of hostility. I’m certain there were some people who also
were offended that our class has been disrupted. But it was almost as if there was a
tacit support coming from that group of students at the agriculture college. So the point being that there were so
many different layers of participating, and there were different layers of support,
primarily from the African-American students, but we also had white support, both directly,
letters and things of that sort, and indirectly, withdrawing from classes, etcetera.>>Now shifting to today, given all
that you experienced on this campus, all that you went through on this campus, what
is it like to be back here 50 years later?>>I can’t believe I was young once. See all these young people I
say, wow, I was one of them? Feels good. When I, I went to the cultural center, and
Liberty went, and we were so impressed. You know, the wall, they showed us the
wall with all the pictures and stuff. And I was saying to myself, now
that’s what we were talking about. We wanted that. And so that’s good. The disappointment, Liberty was very
disappointed the numbers are not what we feel they should be for the university. So we got work to do there like that. And my hope is that we have
continuity, you know. Because as, you know, you have fathers and
you have fathers and you have grandfathers and great-grandfathers, you have continuity. You have time. It goes on. And you guys are an extension of us. And then now you have to extend it. And so these are some of the things that I’ve
been thinking about while I’ve been here. But overall, my impression is good. You know, I think you’re
a lovely group of people. I wish I was one of you.>>We were here, several, or a couple of us, Willie and I were here last
year at another event. And some of us took tours over the campus. And I remember feeling, I
was concerned that some of the black students appeared to be isolated. I never saw more than one black student, you
know, with, I just saw one black student. They were all individual. I would never see clusters. Whereas I would look and I would see
other groups, and they were clusters, two here, three there or whatever. And just looking at that. And then I said, well, okay, this
is a completely different age and maybe people in general are isolated. Perhaps that’s a fact. But my concern was for the
African-American students. I just don’t want them to feel one,
that they don’t belong here, you know. That they’re here on some special whatever. No, you’re not here. You belong here. You have the right to be here, you know. And they not be isolated. And as Willie said, they also build upon
whatever legacy that we were fortunate enough to give to you so that your kids and other
generations, and then 50 years later, we can have a definite improvement
here at the University of Wisconsin.>>But I have say, the welcome has
been wonderful, very, very wonderful. Everybody’s been very kind to us. And it’s just an honor. It’s an honor to see you all doing
what you do and to be invited back. And I’m very thankful, very
thankful for you all. Just keep on keeping on, that’s it. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop. You just got to keep on. And obviously, you have a lot
of unity here and, you know, looking at all your tee shirts
and your outfits and everything. I reminds me, we had a little subgroup,
I don’t know if anybody knows about that. [ Singing/Overlapped Speaking ] So you all remind us of that. We were like the little core
group that kind of, you know –>>Pushed it.>>Kind of, yeah. We were kind of the undercurrent. And you guys got a large whopping
[inaudible] it looks like to me. That’s really good.>>Don’t feel marginalized at all. I mean, hold your heads up high. And have that commitment, have
that commitment to yourself. Have that light shine, shine. And articulate who you are, you know, Articulate
the value that you have and believe in them.>>If I may just add one other thing. Shiloah, when we were talking and we were
saying some of the things you may have missed. And one of the things that I may
have missed is that I was made aware of the full resources of the university. We had counseling sessions and all, but
it was never really broken down let’s say. In the music department you have your chorus. You also have your orchestra. You have your this, you have your that. If you wanted to be [inaudible]
you can do this or that. It was never good. Of course, all these things were
in the catalog, remember catalog? No, you may not remember catalogs. But in those days we had to haul around these
big books and look through the catalogs. It might have been in the catalogs,
nevertheless, it also needed to reinforce it. So I would just encourage all of you
to just take, just be aware of the, this is a great university, as you know. The great, the breadth of opportunities
that are available to you here. You know, sometimes go a little bit
out of your own areas sometimes. Just for the sheer fun of it. Take some course and something that’s not going
to result in you getting a job or whatever. You’re doing this for your
own intellectual improvement.>>Good advice.>>As the legacy of the strike
continues and clearly lives on today, what impact did the strike have on you,
your personal lives and your careers?>>Well, it made me a doer. It made me feel that I could go into
various situations and overcome things. I could be a problem-solver. I had a lot of wonderful years as
a drug rehabilitation counselor. I didn’t have a background in terms of the
university, but I talked my way into it and got family connections to help me out. But that experience at Wisconsin really enabled
me to relate to people and to be creative. You know, even in whatever field I was in, I
always managed to push it and create something that was me in that job and stuff like that. When I went into the mortgage thing in Chicago,
I created a group management situation. I could recruit my own mortgage
people at the company I was with. And I could train people. And I did a lot of things for first-time
home buyers and stuff like that. When I went in drug rehabilitation, we
not only dealt with people personally, but we set up programs at the time to do GEDs,
do education, to do social things like that. So Wisconsin gave me that
spirit to hang in there, to feel good that I was a
doer and a problem-solver.>>I think for me what working on the
strike and working up to the strike and organizing here taught me is that hard work
and coming together as a team to work together, is a very important lesson to have learned. Because it served me for the
rest of my life basically. I recognized that by working really, really hard
at something, you can accomplish your goals. You may not get to it easily, and you may not
get to it in the time that you would hope, but eventually, by working at it, it pays off. And so I felt like we learned that lesson. We just dug in, and we did
the work that it took. And so it’s not exactly the lesson that you
necessarily expect to get at a university. I can’t say it was part of the course. But it was for me something that stuck
with me the rest of my life that, you know, it takes hard work to accomplish real
things, real serious important goals. And we learned how to do it. We practiced it. We practiced meeting. We practiced consensus building. We practiced working together, teamwork. And all those –>>Articulation.>>Articulation, learning to understand
issues, learning to articulate the issues. And to figure out how to get
things you need when, you know, when you realize what you needs are. So and how to work with other people. And engender support. So those are great lessons I took away. And I’ve applied them for the rest of
my life, and I’m thankful for that. They asked me, well what did you
study at the University of Wisconsin? And all I could think of, I studied revolution. And I was — [ Applause ] And that was it. That was it. So, thank you UW for that education.>>However, that education came on your
backs, and that’s the part that troubles me. And so how can we have the
kind of life changing learning and development without it taking a toll? Baptisms by fire. Especially when you color outside the lines and go beyond the mainstream conventional
path that is sort of laid out for us. And I think it’s important
to stay centered and grounded in a higher vision that’s beyond just self. And that too often puts you in
the crosshairs of the challenge. For me, the strike and what came
before the strike, because again, I said I was at a historically black college. The first black college in
the US that was black-owned and organized, Wilberforce University. I went to stateside, which is Central State
University, and there was church side. So in the 50s, there was a
split between church and state. Our black college, my first
exposure to the National Guard came at Central State University in 1967. That was my loss of innocence and belief
in the greater good, folks doing right. And so when I came to Wisconsin,
I had that in my consciousness. And so Wisconsin was a very
life-changing experience for the reasons that I’ve already mentioned, witnessing what
was happening to those who had been struggling and laying the foundation that I benefited from
coming in in ’68 and then joining the strike. I mean, so I’m just saying,
for me, deep in my soul, there is a belief that we
each must lift as we climb. It’s not just about us individually. You know, rising up and coming grand.>>Right.>>And that was an expectation that I
came with, not only because of coming from the school I came from but
also because that was the water, sociopolitical water that we were swimming in. There was an expectation that we will make a
difference wherever we find ourselves planted. And that’s what I’ve tried to
pass on to whoever crosses my path over the course of these 50 years. And I don’t say it hard, but I try to share it. And to live it and to radiate it. And so, for me, Central State
University further reinforced and deepened by my experience here has been. Lift as we climb. There’s no neutral place to
stand in the face of injustice. No neutral place to stand. So silence implies cosign. So what is it that we can say and do? Where will we find ourselves given and whatever
resources we might have at our disposal. Because bystander behavior is not okay. And so, that for me is at the heart
of what has been my 50-year walk here. Jumpstarted by the walk at
Central State University. That is my heart by the way. Yes. So.>>So I guess kind of wrapping on at least
this moderated portion of the evening, how do you all feel in regards to the changes
that have been made on campus and then kind of adding a little bit of nuance to that,
what would be your advice that you could issue out to students now who want to continue
on making these changes on campus?>>My advice would be, I think one of the things
that we could have done a little better was, we did try to involve the
greater Madison community. Liberty and I would go to
church on the southside, and we were peripherally
involved with the Urban League. We spent one summer working on the
southside of Madison with the young people. We set up a white house where we taught
black history and stuff to the young’uns. So, my advice would be that
whatever you do on the campus, also try to get the community involved in it
as well because this is a public institution, and they can write to the state legislation. They can write to the Board of Regents
and force them to respond, you know. So use the greater community too,
because they’ll be there for you. They look up to you. You’re college students. You’re the next generation. So, go out and speak to them
if you have an issue, you know. Request to speak to their congregation. Request to have the press
come in, stuff like that.>>Absolutely. Can you repeat the question again? There was some part of it
that I wanted to respond it, but I can’t remember the full question.>>Yes. So how did you all feel about
the changes that have been made so far.>>Right, right. Thank you. Well, I’m very encouraged that the African-American studies
department is here and still functioning. Yay! Thank you. Thank you.>>And it is a department, not a
program, not a collection of courses. It is a department. And the demands were clear on that. That’s diecasting. A lot of other places just got a
program or a collection of courses. We have a department.>>I want to hear about –>>With advanced degrees.>>Thank you. Thank you. I mean it’s just really, really
rewarding to come back and know that department is still functioning. There was a young man by the
name of Cornelius Gilbert. You all know Cornelius? Huh?>>He told me to tell you all hi.>>Okay. Hey Cornelius. Oh, he was wonderful. And he did his dissertation all about
the work that we did back in the day. But I was just so thrilled to know that,
you know, he was getting his degree at the African-American studies
department, and it’s just really, really an honor to know that
that’s still happening. So in that way, I think we’re very encouraged. On the other major demand
about recruiting students, there’s still a lot of work to be done. I don’t know exactly what the
number are, but it’s somewhere around 3,000 to 4,000 students you have? No? Who knows what the populations, black
population is here at this university? How much?>>Over 1,500.>>Fifteen hundred.>>Is that 6% of the population?>>That’s nowhere near, nowhere near the
percentage of the black population of Wisconsin, and we know it’s nowhere near
the population of the country. So, you know, a state school, a school
that gets its money from the community, people paying taxes, that school
should represent the population of that state, if not the nation. So there is a lot of work
to be done in that regard. And I think that’s where your
efforts should focus right now because it’s still a huge problem. I mean we have wonderful HBCUs, and
they are growing, and they’re strong, and I encourage that, but we
still need to have universities of Wisconsin servicing the community. You all need to, you know, to push on that. And I would encourage, and anything
we can do to support you on that, please, you know, feel free to ask. Because that was, I just think that’s
how we solve some of our problems. We need to get in school. We need to talk about our issues. We need to think about what it is we have
to do to solve our problems as a community and the country and change the world. Be the change that we want to see. We have, you know, these are
places where that can happen. And so in that respect, I feel like
my advice to you and, you know, my concern is that student
recruitment is a big, big thing. And not just African-American,
people of color in general. We need to be represented on all
the campuses across this nation. And we need to be talking about what
it is that we need to do to work on our problems, work on, you know. So go at it, go at it. That’s all I can say. Keep on working. It really is hard work. It really is. But it’s important work, and
we just got to keep pushing. Got to keep on keeping on.>>I would also like to acknowledge
Afro-American studies, because but for that department,
I would not be sitting here. Because I was not able to come back after
that first year when I lost my fellowship, and I had to get rid of my incompletes
and all the mess that was caused in my transcript by my participation. So I worked in California and got rid
of my incompletes through UC Berkeley, working with community organizers that
were savvy about higher education. So, when I came back to my department, they
said to me, we hope you find something. Because that was often the way which those of us who had been participants would
no longer be able to show up. And because I was a grad student, I was
privileged, even though I was blocked. The Afro-American studies department
existed, and they needed teaching assistants. I became a teaching assistant
in Afro-American studies. And when they looked up and still saw me like,
but our undergrads did not have that option. Again, bringing it back to
on whose shoulders we stand because when they were blocked
from financial aid, that was it. And I think that might have been the
experience of some folk over there, okay. So I’m just saying, just remember the sacrifices
folks have made and the expectation given that the baton is in our hands now. Do your part. Let us do our part, for the greater good of
those who are yet to come, in spite a whatever. In spite a whatever.>>Right.>>Let’s give our moderators a round of
applause, not moderators, our panelists. We’d like to shift gears a little bit
and kind of transition into a dialogue. So if we could have the lights
brought up a little bit. We wanted to know if any of you
had questions for students here no. So if you want to respond to a question, feel
free to raise your hand, and we’ll point to you. But if you all have any questions,
that would be –>>I’d just like to hear from students
about what’s going on, what they feel like, turn some of those same questions
around to you all. And what is it like to be a student here now. I’d love to hear that.>>So I came here on a [inaudible]
scholarship personally to be specific. A lot of [inaudible] in the earlier
discussion of the panel about being told that you’re not supposed to be here
because you are on scholarship, a lot of things that my cohort members,
just a general program and space. But I think mainly like the question that stuck out has been the questions
like what has like changed. And I think in our current position that we
do have a fearless bunch in our student body that will go out, make protests, do these
things, me being one of those people. But I see that from the university,
we’re always met with some kind of, with some kind of force or
some kind of kickback. And just recently, probably like two years ago,
we know that the protest bill was introduced. And I think that has been a key part in
why maybe some protests have slowed down is because they’re scared of suspension
and then eventually expulsion. I had a meeting with some
of the football players. They stated, they couldn’t say exactly who,
but they stated that some of their coaches said that if you kneel, it was during the
Kaepernick situation, that if you kneel, then don’t bite the hand that feeds you. You will be kicked off the
team or you will not play. So these are a lot of things that we have. When we sparked the [inaudible] which I
felt was a [Inaudible], blackity [phonetic], all these articles, they report on it. Really UW just in a nutshell is
where we involve the whole community to basically express themselves via through
art, visual art, anything we connected with, the Chazen which is the museum here on campus, they allowed us a beautiful area
and platform to showcase that. Even that was so much kickback from the
university to try to navigate those things. And for then, afterwards, for the art
to be in a way stolen and then archived in their own personal buildings and act like
it was the get-go that they were all on board with us all along I feel like
is one huge, big cover up. So, I guess like those are like
my answer to those questions. And I guess like in a dialogue sense, I know
that you all prevailed, and you all pushed through adversity, and I think it
takes a level of determination. It takes a level of courage to do what you do. And I think my main question
would be just how do we persevere in the same way that you all did now?>>Through commitment. You’ve got to be committed,
like I committed to the truth. You understand that there is a
truth there and an unfairness there. So you have to be committed to resolving that. And yes, there’s always going to be
pushback, and there always was pushback. When you look at the history of this
country, and there’s always been division. But I mean, that doesn’t mean that
you don’t advocate for yourself and try to get other people on your side. And that’s what you do. And that’s what American is all
about, you know, doing that. I mean it goes all the way
back from the very beginning. So when you have something, keep at it. Keep at it, organize in the sense that
you will get other people involved, get a petition, start with a petition. Find out who else feel like you. Hold meetings on it. Strategize and go forward from there in terms of getting the community involved
and other people involved. Because I’m sure a lot of other people
here would feel the unfairness of it. I did. So, that’s what you do. You get and organize and push forward like that.>>I think also you have to
think about have a grand issue. The grander the issue is, it might
be a little bit easier to organize and get a sustained commitment to a grand issue. If you’re dealing with the minutia of
an issue, wow, they took our artwork. They put our artwork here. We don’t want our artwork here. That may not necessarily be
compelling enough to get people to actually come together and to support it. But if you have a grand, for example, when we
were talking, our strike was very succinct. We had 13 demands. One of our biggest demand was we want a
black studies department here on this campus. That’s a grand issue. It’s also connected to the
grand issue that other black, that other colleges were also
experiencing as an example. So my point, my advice to you would be when
you’re going up against a powerful institution, make the issue as grand as you
can possibly make the issue. That may attract more people and you
may be able to get a sustained support because of the grandeur of the issue. Don’t make it so, don’t make it so minute.>>And the thing is, you may start with where
you are, with the things you have purpose and passion around, and even though it may start
small, walking out in the world and commuting with others, you might find ways
to crosswalk our individual issues to then make it a more grand issue. Otherwise, we sometimes get
paralyzed waiting for the big way, and we do nothing in the interim. So, remain committed to progressive
outcomes without being attached to outcomes of which you have not control. And so, again, there’s no neutral place to
stand in the face of disparity and injustice, so work it wherever you find yourself and
then try to grow it by learning how to speak into the listening of the folks around us. Too many of us, by default,
speak into our own speaking, speak into the listening of our homies. But to do this work for the greater good, we
need to learn how to do boundary spanning and yet still remain centered and
grounded in what matters to us.>>Exactly.>>It’s a gyroscope action, in case
you all hadn’t heard of gyroscopes. As long as that center wheel is spinning, it doesn’t matter where you throw
a gyroscope, where it finds itself. It will find its way back home. So remain centered and grounded. Roots and wings sound like a
contradiction, but it ain’t. Roots centered and grounded and yet have
wings to soar, to boundaries spanned to do the work for the greater good. We are the ones. We’ve all been waiting for you folk. Let’s get busy with it.>>All right.>>That’s a good question. That’s a great question. Stay committed.>>And also it sounds like
I’m looking at our demands from way back when, and I’m
looking at number five. It says that amnesty define as no reprisal
or chastisement be given all students who participate in boycotts
or other such action –>>See, you make it big like that.>>in reference to our demands. So we were asking for that then. I’m sorry, I don’t know if you could hear me. I turned. But anyway, it sounds like that’s a
demand that needs to continually be a demand.>>See, the truth is is that protest
is a part of American history. This country was founded on protest. We have the tradition of Henry
David Thoreau and this one and that. So, you embed yourself and
you go in that direction and you articulate yourself int hat direction. Why should you be harassed
because you speak out, you know? And that’s the bigger issue, you know. I’m an artist, and art should be free. It should be free, and you
make it big like that. But stay committed and get other
people involved with you, you know. But don’t give up on it.>>Thank you.>>Yes, we can take another question.>>As a [inaudible] freshman I was
involved in the black [inaudible].>>All right. All right.>>Thank you.>>Right from the cornfields
of Wisconsin [inaudible]. I had gotten radicalized around the
Vietnam War issue, and so I came to campus and we had an NEIR [phonetic] demonstration
and then Nixon got elected and knew that the war was going to escalate. And then I was in the periphery or
students for a democratic society. I didn’t know Mike Rosen or John Melrod
or the people who worked with you all, but I just went to meetings and didn’t really
understand what was going on But the word, the black strike started, I remember
there was a big meeting in Gray Hall, and then poured out of Gray Hall and marched up
the hill and, it’s in the movie The War at Home.>>Yeah, yeah.>>Right. And, you know, the
strike went on for a couple days and it just wasn’t taking hold the
way that it needed to take hold. And so the word came out for us as the
[inaudible] to meet in this theater. And we met in the old Frederick Marx Theater,
Frederick Marx’s name of course has been taken by the association with the [inaudible]
with the Klan or the Klan returning. But anyway, we met here very early
one morning on a weekday morning, and we were told that we were going to go up
and blockade the buildings at [inaudible] Hill. And I’d never done anything like that, and
it was exciting, but it was pretty scary, you know, to break the law like that. They gave us arm bands, and we crept out and we
went out past them, and we got in the doorways. And we stood in the schoolhouse door,
you know, in the best sense of the word. And no students, faculty, administrators,
maintenance, were going to be allowed to go in. And there were some confrontations. You’ll see a couple of them in The War at Home. And that afternoon, they called the Madison
cops, and people, the Madison cops came and ran us off [inaudible], but the next
day, there were 5,000 students demonstrating. People remembered how the police had
come in October ’67 and beat up the –>>The [inaudible] administration.>>The pacifist people who were sitting in
against Dow Chemicals were the makers of napalm. And so all the educational
work that you all did, the lay the seeds of this,
it germinated at that moment. Five thousand students, I mean
we were blockading the entrances to all the buildings on the liberal arts campus. And the other campus, the [inaudible] saw
it was just another alternate universe, as you mentioned. But they couldn’t keep the
liberal arts campus open. And that’s why the republican governor
Warren Knowles called the National Guard, and the National Guard [inaudible]
occupied the campus with a teachable moment, as
I’m sure you all realized. It really was the turning point,
I think, in the black strike.>>If I may just say one thing. The different level, I think, for different
levels of participation in any protest, and I just want to speak to those people, there
are some people who are not necessarily prone to if there’s a protest, to actually put their
bodies on the line to march, all the banner and all that other kind of stuff. There are things that a person can
still do in support of a situation, which does not necessarily
mind them being out front. Everybody’s not going to be out front. Everybody, I remember once [inaudible] Young
came to my high school, and he was talking about the Civil Rights era, and he was
saying, you know, use this analogy. You have, in the military you have the
cavalry, whatever that is, whatever, the four levels of military life or whatever. And the point is, he was pointing out
that there would be certain people who participate in each of those levels. Each of those levels is indeed important. And my point to you is there might be some of
you who because of either your own personalities or whatever, you may not be as
inclined to be out in the forefront. However, there are ways in which you
can be supportive of a situation. And some people would say, just
be the best that you can be. Just be your best. Being your best may be a way
to actually have an impact on the larger issue that is being confronted.>>Excellent point.>>And that is calling in
instead of calling out. Just because folks ain’t doing the way, taking
the path that one might think is the right way. They have a different way. And too often, what pained me
greatly was junior oppressor action. In other words, if they ain’t doing it the
way the heavy duty progressors say do it, then you’re a betrayer. So, call in, not calling out. Because if we are busy taking each
other out like the gladiators, gladiators in the arena, fighting it out. But who’s sitting up in the stands sipping
mint julips as we take each other out. And whoever’s left standing will be taken out. So, as the fury rises in you or in us,
because someone is not doing it the way that it orchestrated, please back away
and think, call in, not calling out. And that energy can be better
invested for the greater good of whoever is the big target,
not the folks nearby. We too often take each other.>>Just piggybacking off of those two things. Just piggybacking off this, this is
why you ask people to do petitions. This is why you get into the community,
because they will call, like she says, call. They could call the state legislators. They could call the Board of Regents. This is a public institution. So that way you can utilize the support
of the greater community, you know. And they may not get out on the picket
line, but then they could call in.>>And I didn’t mean call in on the phone,
just give everyone space to be human and to do the right thing without us
being judgmental and standing in judgment. There’s enough work for all of
us to do for the greater good.>>So in the Black Cultural Center, all the
time when I make a photo of one of the leaders of the Black Student Alliance and
on a picture for a [inaudible] which is a former leader
of the Black Panther party. Can you all sort of speak to what the
involvement or whether the collaboration with the Black Panther coming to campus for the
black student strike or clarify some things.>>Yeah, they, the word got out
that there was an organization here of students that was pretty sophisticated. So we had the Black Panthers in Milwaukee that
helped, first of all, we created a gun club. We got licensed. We created a gun club, and we
had them to help us purchase guns that we would practice at a rock quarry, okay. And so that was one of the ways that
established a relationship with them. And then secondly, it’s just the word that got out that there was a really sophisticated
group at the University of Wisconsin. So Fred Hampton, he came up to speak, as
we did have a lot of people from SNCC. I think Stokely Carmichael came
up here at one point to speak. Yeah, people from San Francisco
State in the West Coast Panthers, some people that were on the periphery of them. So, that was how that happened. We didn’t have any official
connection with the Black Panthers, but we were interested in hearing what they had. And they were tight. The Black Panthers were really, really tight. The unfortunate thing was the fact that
the federal government, Hoover, you know, had infiltrated and did a number on them. We had the police here, and
we had infiltration here. But we were always on the alert for that.>>And that was part of our education. That was how we, you know, got
people to come and help share ideas and thoughts about how to do things. So they were part of that. There’s a hand over there, Aisha.>>Hello, my name’s Aisha. I’m a sophomore here at UW Madison. I thank you guys all for your work. I think I heard a lot about sacrifice, and
I heard a lot about like pushing our limits. And because I’m a scholarship student,
I think about my work all the time and consequences is faced and
like what I am willing to lose. But sometimes there’s a lot of
me that I’m not willing to lose. So, a lot of times my mental health is on line. And I go into the Black Cultural Center a lot
to relieve all of the stress I feel in classes, a lot of the work that I put in at my job. And there are black folks in the Black
Cultural Center who will listen to me. But they are facing all of the things that I
am too, because they’re black on this campus. So sometimes I am wondering
like, where is the limit? Where do we stop sacrificing ourselves that,
yes, we’re always thinking to the future and we’re always thinking for the greater good,
but we as human beings have limits, right, in what we can put ourselves in, what situations
we are willing to lose everything, right. And there are times on this campus
where I was willing to do something and lose my scholarship enough to
tell my mom I’m coming back home. But sometimes when I feel so
close, it feels like I’m going to lose this thing that I worked so hard for. So like, how do we balance ourselves, right.>>Just do what you can, you know. I wouldn’t try to lose anything. Do what you can and realize
that there is a community. You seem to already realize that. So, and try to navigate,
try to navigate, you know. We were few in the beginning. So, I mean, there was a, we became targets
because we were the first, you know. But the people that came
after us with greater numbers, they were less of a target than we were. So, I mean, you know, don’t try to
just sacrifice yourself like that. Realize that it’s a long, long process. Life is long. It should be long for you.>>Yeah.>>So try to live it. Stay in there.>>Aisha, let me just say this, as
a child of the Civil Rights Movement and the black liberation
struggle, many in my cohort, the metamessage to us is self-care
is selfish and self-indulgent. At 72-years-old now, I am grateful
to still be relatively upright with reasonable peace of a sound mind and body. But there are many who are no longer with us
either physically, emotionally or spiritually because we thought that if we sacrificed
our all, somehow, we would move the needle. But there’s no guarantee that the needle,
even if it moves, that it won’t backtrack. And so part of where I am now
in this life is recognizing that self-care is not self-indulgent. It is self-preservation and sustainability as an
act of political warfare, as Audrey Lord says. So each of us need to be mindfully
monitoring, as we walk in the world, what do we need to sustain ourselves. Because too many of us ran
on fumes and then wound up collapsing because we were not monitoring. And so that’s part of what
I’m trying to do in this orbit of the university with folks who are coming up. Monitor what it takes to sustain you,
because actually, it redounds to the benefit of this status quo if you crash
and burn, if you leave here. So, sacrifice, yes, but with savvy. Because it’s about staying here
long enough, wherever here is, to make a difference for the greater good. So, it is a strategic moving
about for the greater good. Not just cosigning BS. But I’m just saying, there’s
something in between, you know, just opportunistically looking out for self
and trying to make it open for a greater good. So, that’s –>>I would add just that a person has to
know what his or her own resources are.>>Right.>>And how much resources
one can expend in any area. And it’s also important to note
that in any protest movement, there will be times when
one is intensely involved. But if it gets to the point where one’s sanity
is compromised, and at that point, perhaps, one may need to withdraw or take a backseat or
channel the involvement into some other area which is not as less, which is as stressful. We don’t want you to lose your
scholarship over these situations here. We want you to maintain your scholarship,
graduate from the University of Wisconsin, and then proceed to make your
contributions in the larger world.>>Absolutely. Absolutely.>>Thank you.>>Yes.>>Yes.>>Another historical question. I’m looking at demand number 12 where
it mentions the Oshkosh students. What effect, if any, did the
expulsion of the Oshkosh 94 in January have on you and your cause?>>It helped, it precipitated it. It was, yeah, it was something that
stimulated us acting, you know. I went up there –>>A group went up there to support them.>>We went up there to the
campus to support them. And that was something of spark, you know. And a lot of the other things
were from the past. But the Oshkosh that was something that was
in ’69, and that then pushed us forward.>>And they did get reinstated. Did they? I think they did.>>I don’t recall.>>A year later.>>Was it a year later? Okay. I’m sorry, I didn’t recall that. But that was definitely a concern of ours
and something we wanted to be supportive of. And I remember going up there late at night.>>Oh yeah.>>Driving up, and they were in jail. They had all been arrested. And I remember the minute we high
Oshkosh we were followed by a car, and there were guns sticking
out of all the windows. And they followed us all around Oshkosh
just, you know, sending a message, you know. We know you’re here. We know what you’re here for. And we went to the police station, and I
don’t remember exactly what came out of that encounter, but I think our main
concern was letting the folks know in Oshkosh that there were people watching. That we were here, and we were in support. And we weren’t going to just let this go by. We knew what was going on. And so the fact that we stuck,
you know, together. We didn’t know any of these students. We didn’t know any of them, but we heard about
it, and we immediately responded to the call. And I think that was important for them to know. And it was also important for us because we
knew that if the same thing happened to us that they would have done the same thing. So, you know, it was kind of like we
were working as a network together and being supportive of one another. And sorry that took a year
for them to get reinstated. But at least it happened. And I think that was something that we, that we
thought important enough to put in the demands.>>We have time for one more question. Yes. [ Inaudible ]>>Could you say that name again?>>Freda Mink [phonetic].>>Okay, Freda Mink.>>Can you talk about like any relationship
with some of the campus organizing or community-based organizing in the 60s. Because I find today that, like with certain
[inaudible] with campus-based issues, I simply cannot get directly
connected with the issues that black people are facing
right here in Madison. Talk about that relationship or the connection
[inaudible] like organize on specific issues.>>Well, it was limited, you know, what we did. Basically, we just tried to have
a relationship, and we were there. We didn’t get in deep with it. Like I said, that I was asked to be on the
board of directors of the Urban League. I went to a few meetings. We went to the churches. Our biggest effort was directed
toward the youth one summer. There was a guy who was a student here. He was an upperclassman, and
he was also from Madison. His name was Eugene Parks. And he had gotten funds to do
organizing around issues of civil rights. And it was white students and black
students, but we said that we feel that the black students should go into the black
community, and the white students should go into the white communities, because the
problem existed in both communities. It just didn’t exist in the blacks. So why should you just want
to go into the black? Why don’t you go into the
whites and talk to them? So our job was, we worked
with the youth, you know. And it was just like one summer. And it was a real positive response,
you know, they appreciated the fact that there were college students coming in. And we did history, and it was
male and female involvement. But overall, I would just say
that community work is slow. You know, it’s knocking on doors. Because Liberty came from
a community organization, and I was a community organizer
as a young person. I was trained at the University
of Wisconsin, you know.>>You mean Chicago.>>I mean University of Chicago, you know, on
the southside of Chicago to do organizing work. And it’s knocking on doors, finding
out what, if you don’t know the issue, if you just want to go up, but it’s
finding out what the issues are important to the community and organizing around that. And getting a few numbers
and getting them together and keeping them meeting and stuff like that. But community organizing is slow. You know, it’s never anything that happens
instantaneously unless there’s a major crisis or something. But you can deal with that easier if
you talked to people in the community. If you knock on the doors and
related to people and whatnot.>>I think also, just relationship
building is really critical. You want to build a relationship with
the black community here or any members of the community that, you know, you
want to be supportive of and vice versa. I felt like the community was very
happy to have us when we went. We spent a summer working in the community. And we also kept up that relationship,
not just that summer, but we worked hard to establish ourselves as connected. We didn’t want to feel that we were
just here, and there was no connection. And we felt like the university
had no connection whatsoever. They didn’t even recognize that there was a
South Madison really, from our understanding. And so we made that effort. And I felt like it paid off because
when we were going through our strike, they understood, they understood. And they were supportive, you know. Some of them, the leaders of the community
made it known that they were with us. And that was just important. They didn’t have, it wasn’t a powerful impact,
but, and we didn’t have a powerful impact on the community, but I think
relationship building is something that we need to do more of in general. Students in general need to be more
connected to the communities that they sit in when they, you know, when they’re there. So, I encourage that, you know. If you’re doing work in South Madison
or in Madison, wherever, continue, because we all need to be
a part of this university. It is, it’s a community space, and the
more people feel comfortable coming in and out having events that community members
might be invited to and going to their events, that really builds a bond that’s very
critical for us as a community to keep on moving and developing and growing.>>Unfortunately, that’s all we have time for. We’d like to thank our panelists
Wahid, Liberty, John, Hazel. [ Applause ]

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