Special promotional comment provided by University of Wisconsin Athletics.
Like just about every event in 2020, Homecoming at the University of Wisconsin looks a little different this year. But that’s only in part because of the pandemic.
The other thing that’s different this year is a stepped-up commitment to engage students and alumni of color.
All year long, the national spotlight has been shining on racial injustice. Organizers at the UW Athletic Department, Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement have taken the opportunity to invite Black alumni and allies to pause for a moment of Black joy.
“We are excited to reach and connect with a broad and diverse Wisconsin family during homecoming weekend,” said Associate Athletic Director Mike Jackson. “Although we are physically distant, we hope this curated entertainment experience bridges our Badger connections across the campus and the world in the spirit of excellence, inclusion, and innovation. ‘Red Live Social’ is a partnership between Wisconsin Athletics, Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement, and Wisconsin Alumni Association. As we have expressed a desire to show greater solidarity across campus and to improve the student and alumni experience, our departments will partner to provide programming to bring our diverse family closer together through unique experiences such as this.”
Plenty of alumni are expected to tune in — 2010 grad Lance Kendricks among them. He hasn’t been able to plug in to many Homecoming events in the 10 years he’s been gone, as he’s been a little busy playing in the NFL. But he’s looking forward to reconnecting to his Wisconsin roots Saturday night.
“It’s cool to have people from the hometown kind of represent you, and you can listen to their music and you can kind of tune in together,” he said. “And everybody from our home base can kind of listen in and understand just the culture of the music.”
The Badgers will take the field Friday night wearing the Black UW Crest, a request that came from a coalition of student groups including current and former Black athletes. Benét donned it in t-shirt form to announce the Red Live Social.
“That’s me, man, that’s me through and through,” he said in an interview on Real Talk with Henry Sanders. “I really loved the cause. I wanted to show solidarity with all the brothers and sisters in Wisconsin that are making this powerful message.”