Kitchen Sink

FPO from Black Student Strike

A Culture of Bigotry

Life at UW–Madison was challenging for early marginalized students. Unlike the bustling social calendar of our current campus, opportunities to connect with peers were limited in the university’s first decades. Nonwhite students were intentionally excluded from the most well-attended events on campus, like prom. Other popular campus clubs organized and promoted activities that centered racist entertainment like minstrelsy. University leaders condoned this behavior.

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A page from the Wisconsin Alumni Magazine with a black and white portrait of G. James Fleming wearing a suit above and an article about him.

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Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority members seated for a group photo.
Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority members in the 1924 Badger yearbook, UW–Madison Archives.

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Colorized postcard featuring an illustration of Lake Mendota, the boat house, and the "Red Gym."
A postcard featuring a color illustration of the south shore of Lake Mendota, including the boat house and Armory. ca. 1890s
Green flyer with the words “Gay Liberation Loves You Very Much” advertises the weekly events for the Madison Alliance for Homosexual Equality.
Flyer advertising a weekly gay liberation event, UW–Madison Archives.
A page from the Wisconsin Alumni Magazine with a black and white portrait of G. James Fleming wearing a suit above and an article about him.
In the April 1949 Wisconsin Alumni Magazine Fleming was celebrated for his role as the secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, which was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947. He was mistakenly listed as being a member of the Delta Sigma Rho fraternity which rejected his membership based on race. UW–Madison Archives.

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Colorized postcard featuring an illustration of Lake Mendota, the boat house, and the "Red Gym."
A postcard featuring a color illustration of the south shore of Lake Mendota, including the boat house and Armory. ca. 1890s

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A one-color flyer, deep red, reads "Red Power" along with the dates and information for a pow wow. A native tribe member is pictured holding a rifle
Flyer advertising a pow-wow hosted by the Coalition of Native Tribes for Red Power, the group that was instrumental in the founding of the American Indian Studies program, Wisconsin Historical Society, WHI Image #50109.
A brief typewritten memo from UW–Madison Chancellor Edwin Young regarding a committee meeting on American Indian studies.
A memo from UW–Madison Chancellor Edwin Yound dated June 16, 1971 regarding a report from an ad hoc university committee on American Indian studies, UW–Madison Archives.

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Portrait of William F. Terrazas. He is pictured wearing a suit and tie.
William F. Terrazas pictured in the 1906 Badger yearbook, UW–Madison Archives.
Portrait of Mabel Watson Raimey. She is pictured in a collared shirt, smiling.
Raimey pictured in the 1919 Badger yearbook, UW–Madison Archives.
Ku Klux Klan members seated for their 1924 Badger yearbook photo.
Members of the UW–Madison Ku Klux Klan in the 1924 Badger yearbook, UW–Madison Archives.

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Colorized postcard featuring an illustration of Lake Mendota, the boat house, and the "Red Gym."
A postcard featuring a color illustration of the south shore of Lake Mendota, including the boat house and Armory. ca. 1890s

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—Payton Wade, ’20

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—a student reflected on how his relationship with his roommate changed after leaving his Quran out, c. 2020
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—student from Color of Drinking study, 2017
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—student from Color of Drinking study, 2015
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—student from Color of Drinking study, 2017

Photo artifact with caption

The Delta Gamma Case

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1903 International Club

The International Club was founded by Japanese student Karl Kawakami with the motto “Above All Nations Humanity.” In addition to planning social activities, the club greeted new international students, helped them find housing, and introduced them to the university.
Dark vintage poster of the international club dance event featuring Bob Wegner Orchestra

1909 Chinese Students’ Club

The Chinese Students’ Club was organized with the goal of “promoting a better relationship between American and Chinese people.” It presented Chinese theater, sports, and history to campus. Today multiple organizations exist for Chinese students.
Chinese Students’ Club members seated for a large group photo. Members showcase their annual opera, basketball, and theater events in the yearbook.

1911 Menorah Society, Hillel

The Menorah Society was founded as a literary and debate club, becoming the first explicitly Jewish organization at UW–Madison. When UW–Madison Hillel was founded in 1924 to support Jewish students on campus during a time of rising antisemitic sentiment, it absorbed the Menorah Society group. Hillel continues today.
Hillel members pose for a group photo.

1951 India Association

The India Association was founded to create bonds between American and Indian students. The organization continues today as the Indian Students Association.
India Association members congregate on the grass outside of Memorial Union for a large group photo.

1953 Africa Union

A group of students from Africa formed the Africa Union to correctly interpret African culture and customs for the university at large. The organization continues today as the African Students Association.
Africa Union members seated in a classroom for a large group photo.

1966 Wisconsin Black Student Union

The Wisconsin Black Student Union (WBSU) rose to prominence during the 1969 Black Student Strike. The group was originally founded in 1966 as the Concerned Negro Students and soon changed its name to the Black People’s Alliance. The students stated their guiding motivation as “the Negro has to determine his goals instead of having it done for him.” The group continues today to advocate for the needs of Black students.
2010 Yearbook page by Aisha Smart on the Wisconsin Black Student Union. Students hold a sign displaying the name of their organization and smile in groups at various events.

1967 Handicapped Students Association

A group of wheelchair-using students and their faculty adviser, real estate professor James Graaskamp, founded the Handicapped Students Association (HSA). It was later renamed Pathways to Independence. In the association’s mission statement, the students defined themselves as “a group of individuals who are interested in finding solutions to problems encountered by the physically disabled students on campus.” Today, multiple organizations exist for students with disabilities.

1968 Wunk Sheek

Native students formed the Coalition of Native Tribes for Red Power (CNTRP), later renamed Wunk Sheek, to serve “students of Indigenous identity and members of the UW–Madison community interested in Indigenous issues, culture, and history.” Wunk Sheek is currently housed within the American Indian Student and Cultural Center (AISCC) with six other student organizations. The development of green space for Levy Hall will displace this important center. During this cycle of relocation, students have repeatedly expressed concerns that many places across campus inadequately serve the needs of Native students.
Two tribal members walk side by side in the UW–Madison Field House dressed in full Native regalia.

1969 Madison Alliance for Homosexual Equality

The Madison Alliance for Homosexual Equality (MAHE) became the first gay liberation group in the state of Wisconsin and on UW–Madison’s campus when it held its first meeting in November 1969. The initial announcement stated that the group was “dedicated to the creation of a society characterized by responsible sexual freedom.” It continued, “We do not seek tolerance; we demand human dignity and respect.” Today, there are multiple organizations supporting LGBTQ+ students.
Green flyer with the words “Gay Liberation Loves You Very Much” advertises the weekly events for the Madison Alliance for Homosexual Equality.

1988 Hmong American Student Association

The Hmong American Student Association (HASA) was founded in 1988 following the hiring of a Hmong bilingual and bicultural adviser for Southeast Asian students at UW–Madison. In response to student appeals, Hmong staff agreed to sponsor the formation of a Hmong American student organization. HASA serves to this day as a vital resource for students, promoting higher education and providing opportunities for leadership.
Two Hmong American Student Association members in full regalia enjoying food at an annual event.

1970 MEChA

Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA) was founded to promote Chicano/a history, culture, and arts with an emphasis on the value of higher education and community engagement. The MEChA house is located at 206 Bernard Court. In addition to the AISCC, the development of the block for Levy Hall will also displace this important center.
MEChA members seated around a couch for their annual yearbook photo.

Background photo with inset screen

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In conclusion

“True resistance begins with people confronting pain … and wanting to do something to change it.”

—bell hooks, MA’76

As we fearlessly sift and winnow through the university’s past, many hard truths emerge. We also find hope, and the ever-present possibility of change for the better. The university has changed in many ways across its history, often because members of the campus community have demanded it.

We believe that reckoning with our history can lead us to a better future, and that unless we acknowledge and learn from our past, we cannot move forward together. The future is not yet written. What happens next is up to us.

The UW–Madison Public History Project was made possible with support from the Office of the Chancellor using private funds.