The Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus, along with Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, hosted a press conference to kick off Black History Month on Monday, Feb. 3, in the state Capitol rotunda in downtown Madison.

Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee, the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, made opening remarks at the event.  

Gov. Tony Evers presents Rep. David Crowley with the official proclamation for Black History Month.

“Let’s celebrate the beginning of Black History Month by focusing on black future: the future that we want for our children is the future we want for every child and the future can only be built by building it together,” Crowley told the crowd.

State Sen. Lena Taylor said that Black History Month is a time for celebration and reflection.

“We celebrate our rich history, all of our triumphs and all of the obstacles that we have overcome. We are resilient people,” Taylor said. “We reflect on the struggles of our past and the times of trial and the days when we could not see the light from the darkness of the perils that lied before us.”

“We celebrate our rich history, all of our triumphs and all of the obstacles that we have overcome. We are resilient people,” said State Sen. Lena Taylor.

Taylor quote Frederick Douglass saying, ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

“This struggle may be a moral one or it may be a physical one – or it may be both,” Taylor said. “But it must be a struggle.”

Taylor introduced State Rep. Shelia Stubbs, the first African American to be elected to the Wisconsin State Legislature representing Madison and Dane County.

State. Rep. Shelia Stubbs with mother Linda Hoskins

“Black History Month is a time to acknowledge our rich contributions to nearly every part of the state – from our arts to our civics to our politics to literature to music to sports. It is a time to reflect on a mighty long journey we have taken to get here and the long road ahead,” Stubbs said.   

“We have the worst racial disparities in the nation. Wisconsin is the absolute worst state to raise a black family. But I stand here today with my Black Caucus colleagues and our governor to say that we are going to change those disparities so black folks can thrive and live and play and work,” she added.

Monday’s press conference was one of many events that will be hosted by members of Wisconsin’s Legislative Black Caucus in Madison and Milwaukee to celebrate Black History Month and to address issues facing the African-American community.

“I hope that we are all honoring our ancestors – those who came before us – to make sure our communities are places of equitable opportunities,” said Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. “On this day, on this month, and throughout this entire year throughout all of our lives, let’s celebrate one another as each of us share a desire to make this state a better place. But let’s remember why we are here and why we serve.

(L-r) State Rep. Chris Taylor, Sadie Pearson, Corinda Rainey-Moore, State Sen. Lena Taylor, State Rep. Shelia Stubbs, and Linda Hoskins

“Let us be the calling of our ancestors and let us speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves,” he added. “I’m so pleased that we have a partner in the east wing to make sure that progress is recognized by all people in the state of Wisconsin to make sure that we are working diligently to end the disparities between our black and white residents in the state of Wisconsin and to make sure that equity is a core principle in all of the work that we do.”

Gov. Tony Evers

Barnes went on to introduce Gov. Tony Evers.

“I’m honored to be here today to help kick off Black History Month,” said Evers. “During Black History Month, we celebrate the many critical contributions of black Wisconsinites in our state and in our country to art, science, business, and even politics.

“Many forces are determined to divide us with hate. We must be more diligent than ever before to celebrate our differences and to recognize that diversity makes us stronger and smarter, not weaker,” he added.