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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Blk Pwr Coalition holds ‘Radical Imagination’ teach-in

The Blk Pwr Coalition held a Black History Month teach-in centered around “designing the Black Madison of our dreams” Saturday in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education building.

The Blk Pwr Coalition held a Black History Month teach-in centered around “designing the Black Madison of our dreams” Saturday in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education building. 

The Blk Pwr Coalition is a UW-Madison student organization founded in May 2023 to advocate for Black students on campus following the circulation of a video depicting a white student saying racial slurs and violent remarks directed toward Black people. In the time since, the group has held town halls and met with UW-Madison administrators to discuss their demands. 

Members of Wunk Sheek, an indigenous organization, performed a land acknowledgement to begin the teach-in. The Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives’ First Wave Hip Hop Artist in Residence, Kenji Summers, began the teach-in with a collective grounding, a meditation centered on intention setting.

About an hour into the event, Dr. Charles H.F. Davis III took the podium to deliver a keynote speech focusing on “higher education for the Black public good.” Davis, a University of Michigan professor, founded and currently directs Michigan’s Campus Abolition Lab and hosts the #PoliceFreeCampus Podcast. 

The event’s second half featured a luncheon panel with an intergenerational panel of Black students, faculty and three alumni who had participated in the 1969 UW-Madison Black Student Strike

Geneva Brown, a 1969 student striker and one of Saturday’s panelists, said in an interview through UW-Madison’s Oral History Collection that responses to racist incidents in Madison often place blame on the city’s residents rather than students at the university. The truth isn’t so simple, Brown said.

“The campus is in Madison, We're all Madisonian,” she said in 2020. “The university employs so many people who are Madisonian, educates Madisonians. They're trying to say that intelligent educated people don't do that. That's what the underlying kind of thing they're trying to do is separate the campus from the community. Don't let them get away with it.”

Brown echoed that rhetoric in Saturday’s panel, entitled “Dreaming and Designing the Black Madison of our Dreams.”

The event concluded with a workshop featuring UW-Madison faculty in which attendees could “radically reimagine Black folk’s relationship to UW-Madison.” 

The Blk Pwr Coalition plans to continue holding more events and community building in the future, according to a Feb. 8 Instagram post. 

“We learn together, build community, break bread and co-create a vision for the future of Black solidarity at UW-Madison,” the Blk Pwr Coalition wrote. 

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Annika Bereny

Annika Bereny is the Special Pages Editor for the Daily Cardinal and specializes in state news and politics reporting. Follow her on Twitter at @annikabereny.


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