Wisconsin State Rep. Shelia Stubbs was honored as the 2019 Midge Miller Award for Outstanding Elected Official of the Year by Democratic Party of Dane County on April 7.
“I am so honored to be recognized with this award. To get an award in the name of Midge Miller, who was very instrumental in social justice work, is quite an honor,” Stubbs tells Madison365. “She was one of those trailblazers that we all looked up to.”
Stubbs, a longtime Dane County Board supervisor, became the first African-American woman to represent District 77 in the Wisconsin State Assembly in November of last year.
“Our Outstanding Elected Official award is named in honor of Midge Miller – a history-maker and trailblazer in Dane County and Wisconsin politics. I couldn’t be happier that the Dane Dems awarded this to my friend Shelia Stubbs,” Michael Basford, chair of the Democratic Party of Dane County, tells Madison365. “Representative Stubbs’ election to the State Assembly last fall provided a substantial improvement to an already exceptional Dane County legislative caucus. Her commitments to equity, inclusivity and justice have been very well-demonstrated over her years on the Dane County Board. Her strong voice on these issues is needed at the state level.”
Former Madison lawmaker Marjorie “Midge” Miller was an early leader in the national movement for women’s rights and was an early supporter of the 1968 presidential candidacy of Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-Minnesota). She eventually headed his Wisconsin campaign. Miller was elected to seven two-year terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly starting in 1970, where she shepherded the nation’s first nuclear weapons freeze referendum, approved by voters in 1982, and pushed the state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
“I just know that the work she has done here in Wisconsin as a woman has been recognized not just here, but all over the United States,” Stubbs says. “She was embedded in social rights and embedded in social justice. That was a platform where she really was a trailblazer and where I have been trying to be a trailblazer, too – women’s rights, human rights, social justice, equity work.”
Miller helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971. She served nine years on the Democratic National Committee and helped create the progressive group the Madison Institute.
Miller’s step-son, Senator Mark Miller, presented Stubbs with the Award for Outstanding Elected Official of the Year.
Stubbs says that she accepted this award on behalf of every obstacle that she has overcome.
“Many times throughout my career I’ve been the only person of color in the room or the only African-American woman in the room,” Stubbs says. “This recent issue of racial profiling that received national attention, for example, was a huge obstacle for me. It was a huge barrier. It was so embarrassing for me.”
Stubbs made national news last year for #CampaigningWhileBlack in Madison. While door-to-door canvassing last Aug. 7, she was stopped and questioned by the police, in front of her daughter, mother and the whole neighborhood, during a humiliating incident that made her distraught.
“But at the same time, I knew that I wanted this position so bad that I had to pull myself together and regroup and refocus,” she says. “I’m fortunate that I had a good team around me that let me vent for 24 hours but then made me go back to knocking on doors. I’d come too far. I had worked so hard to allow an anonymous person to pull all of that away from me.”
Dane County Democrats presented the award to Stubbs at the second annual Miller-Miller Dinner, a fundraiser to honor the legacies of two outstanding progressive women: Midge Miller and Lorna Miller
“The Dane Dems were proud to award Representative Stubbs the Midge Miller Outstanding Elected Official award for her service on the Dane County Board, her historic win last year and the promise of a long career in Wisconsin politics,” Basford says.
Stubbs has worked on issues of racial equality for most of her life, often fighting on behalf of others who have faced racial prejudice and discrimination.
“I’ve worked really hard to make sure that equity is an initiative that is at the forefront for not just me but for this whole county where we’ve been the worst place for black people to live,” she says. “I want to make it so that we are the best county. And I want them to say that it changed because of the work of Shelia Stubbs.
“I hope that I am creating some pathways for others similar to how Midge Miller once did,” she adds.