Home Madison “I’m in the majority.” Dr. Kwame Salter Urges Rethinking of “Minority” Status...

“I’m in the majority.” Dr. Kwame Salter Urges Rethinking of “Minority” Status at Charles Hamilton Houston Institute Banquet


It’s all on us. We hold the keys to making the changes necessary to bring racial equity. We are the ones responsible for letting our voices be heard in the increasingly tense racial environments some of our communities have become. We have a national press secretary who last week was unable to guarantee to a room full of press that there weren’t recordings of the President of the United States using the N-word.

But that’s on us, too. The silent majority who let the shouting, vocal minority elect an unstable person.

In fact, as people of color aren’t ever the minority. Seventy five percent of the world’s population is people of color.

That was the tone in increasing fashion as Dr. Kwame Salter moved through the audience at the Sixth Annual Charles Hamilton Houston Institute banquet. From table to table he went addressing issue after issue.

Dr. Salter, an oft-awarded and distinguished graduate of UW-Whitewater, left no stone unturned as he weaved through a room full of pillars of the community, journalists, activists and professionals.

It’s on us to practice the love that can unite communities, he said, and to hold accountable those in power, and teach us to understand that everyone is just someone trying to find their way through life.

Dr. Salter, the keynote speaker of the CHHI luncheon was quiet and loud,  funny and upsetting, soft-spoken and blunt all at the same time. His speech was grueling and thrilling all at once as he challenged the progression out of progressive white liberals, reprimanded the apathy of the black and brown communities and perhaps even offended the sensibilities of the overly well-to-do.

“What I’m going to talk about is the past; how we got here, the present and the future,” Dr. Salter told the audience. “If you live in the moment, you will take care of the elements of the past because you will have been informed of what mistakes you made and you’ll be able to invent a future. But if you’re trapped in the past, the past is a prison. And like one author said, ‘the doors to hell are locked from the inside’. The future. This is where the human being becomes so powerful. Because united we are unstoppable. We must envision a future so bright that you will have to wear sunglasses at night. We must project a future free of this pettiness and this playground name calling. We must project a future where people can be free. Where people can live up to the tenets of the Declaration of Independence.”

Dr. Salter said it is a misuse of language for people of color to refer to themselves as minorities. He told a story about how when he was a young man, he told his father he wanted to be called Black, not Colored. His father told him that 75 percent of the Earth’s population are “colored” so he’d rather be identified with that, rather than be called “Black.” He also said it is a trick of the world that white people, a minority themselves by a wide margin, are called the majority.

“I have a suggestion for the NAACP,” Dr. Salter continued. “Now is the time to bring all the colored people in. All the time you hear companies saying to their hiring departments ‘go get us some diversity.’ We call ourselves diverse people. What a misuse of the English language. No one wants to say the truth, that we are in the majority. So we are not minorities. If you wanna know why I walk so tall and feel so good it’s because I don’t walk around thinking I’m a minority. I realize that the scope is global. I’m in the majority.”

Dr. Salter has written several books, including Striving While Black: Getting to your goals–without losing your soul. He spent over a decade as the Executive Director of the Dane County Parent Council as well as 22 years in a high ranking position with Oscar Meyer Foods.

“It’s an honor to keynote the Charles Hamilton Houston Banquet,” Dr. Salter told Madison365 afterward. “Because I know the tradition that this stands for. It was Charles Hamilton Houston who trained Thurgood Marshall and the rest of these warriors to overthrow apartheid in America. So it’s a great honor to see old friends, family. It’s wonderful to be back.”

As always, the outstanding community work of so many people was celebrated during the event.

This year’s award recipients were Edith Hilliard, Camille Carter, Dwight McDonald, James Kramer, Godwin Amegashie, Willie and Jewelline Wiggins, Ana Carmine, Carletta Stanford and Michael Thornton.

The CHHI Board also gave the President’s Award to Gregory Jones, for his years of service in education.