Happy Black History Month from the Public History Project! This month's newsletter celebrates Black History at UW-Madison and includes links to project research, information on BHM events, a rarely seen bit of history from the 1969 Black Student Strike, new book and podcast recommendations, and more!

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Public History Project is a multi-year effort to uncover and give voice to those who experienced, challenged, and overcame prejudice on campus. As always, if you have a story to share, an event you think should be researched, or a person you think has been overlooked, please email us at publichistoryproject@wisc.edu.
Many people know about the infamous 1969 Black Student Strike at UW-Madison. But what happened to one of the core demands - a Black student center - after the strike ended? Project researcher Edward Frame details the rise and fall of campus “ethnic student centers” in the early 1970s. If you missed this special piece from the early months of the Project, now is the perfect time to check it out here

Don’t forget to explore our other blog posts here.
A group of student standing outside of the
Afro-American and Race Relations Center in 1970, UW Archives.
The Africa Union's page in the 1958 Badger Yearbook, UW Archives.
We get asked a lot of questions. Each month we’ll answer one in the newsletter. This month, we got asked: What was the first Black student group on campus?

The answer: It’s complicated… 

Figuring out the “first” of anything can be difficult. It all depends on how you judge. So we thought we’d share a few of the earliest student organizations for Black students. 
  • One of the earliest gathering spaces for Black students was Black Greek-letter organizations (BGLO). The first BGLO at UW-Madison was Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. in 1946. For more on BGLOs at UW-Madison, visit our blog
  • In 1953, a group of students from Africa formed the African Union to correctly interpret African culture and customs to the University at large.
  • In 1969, the Wisconsin Black Student Union (WBSU) rose to prominence during the 1969 Black Student Strike. They continue today to advocate for the needs of Black students.
Got a question? Email us uwpublichistoryproject@wisc.edu.
“Long Live Collective Decision-making”

“The Strike Begins” 

For Black History Month we’re highlighting an archival object from what might be UW-Madison’s most famous piece of Black history - the 1969 Black Student Strike. This supplemental flyer to the campus’ Connections newsletter was released on campus a few days after the strike began. It gives a first-hand account of a student hearing about the strike which they describe as “a little something to do up at Bascom.” It gives an hour-by-hour play of the days protesting activities where Black students staged interruptions in Bascom Hall, the Social Sciences and Commerce buildings, Birge Hall,  and finally Library Mall to read the demands aloud. The day's rally ended with shouting “Peace, Power, & Liberation!”

For more on the 1969 Black Strike, visit 13 Demands.
Supplemental edition of the campus Connections newsletter detailing the Strike, February 1969, UW Archives.
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We'll be sharing Black History Month content all month long!
Join us next Tuesday, February 22nd for the public screening of The Black Voice's first documentary “We The Vision.” The documentary commemorates the 50th anniversary of the founding of The Black Voice and is the tale of the publication's origins, influence, and legacy told by many of the voices who have shaped its success. "We The Vision" will be presented at Marquee Cinema in Union South on Tuesday, Feb 22, at 6 p.m. Following the screening, there will be a brief discussion with the film's director, Nile Lansana, and other TBV members and alum. RSVP here

Find more information on other Black History Month events here.
Each month, we want to share one of the many (many… many… ) books the Project has used for our research. This month, we highlight the work of local historian Muriel Simms, Settlin’: Stories of Madison’s Early African American Families. Finding that traditional archival sources did not document the history of the earliest African American families in Madison, Simms went straight to the source of knowledge - descendants. Through oral history interviews, Simms shares the struggles and challenges of Madison’s early African American community alongside the stories of community connection and perseverance.
Each month the Project's Director, Kacie Lucchini Butcher will share a book, podcast, movie, quote, or something else she thinks has been adding to the PHP. We're calling it "From The Desk of KLB"

This month From The Desk of KLB - a work of fiction. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett follows the Vignes twin sisters. They will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. A page-turner that manages to secretly teach you a lot about the history of race in America.
As always, if you have a story to share, an event you think should be researched, or a person you think has been overlooked, please email us at publichistoryproject@wisc.edu.