The population of The University of Wisconsin-Madison consists of 43,820 students. Out of 43,820 students, 990 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidates are Black. Life as a Black Badger on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison surrounds a search for identity and placement on a campus that has not made space for its African American population. In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, Black Badgers have fought within the walls of this university to have their voice heard through various protests and social media trends.
1. The demand to remove Chamberlin a.k.a.“Niggerhead rock.” The Wisconsin Black Student Union released the demand to remove Chamberlin Rock from Observatory Hill due to its anti-Black discriminative history towards Black Badgers on campus. The rock was previously known as “Niggerhead Rock,” as shown in a 1925 Wisconsin State Journal article from the UW Archives.
2. The SICofUW Protest. The SICofUW protest surrounded Black Badgers’ fight for recognition and diversity on campus, as a result of the 2019 Wisconsin homecoming video that did not include any Black people or Black organizations on campus.
3. The Langdon Street demonstration. The Langdon Street demonstration refers to the activism and protest displayed on the signs of the university buildings on Langdon Street in October of 2019. This protest brought a lot of media attention to the accusations of racism, discrimination and inconsideration for people of color on the UW-Madison campus.
4. The Black Lives Matter Protest. In 2016, Black Badgers marched through East Campus Mall demanding the acknowledgment of Black lives both on and off campus. In 2020, not much as changed. Black Badgers continue to lead and participate in the Black Lives Matter protest.
5. The Revisiting of 1969 Black Student Strike 13 Demands. Amid last year’s scandal regarding the Wisconsin Homecoming Committee leaving people of color out of the homecoming video, SICofUW created demands in addition to their protest based on the 13 demands of the 1969 Black Student Strike.
6. The #TheRealUW Twitter Posts. In 2016, the #TheRealUW hashtag surfaced on Twitter detailing various personal experiences related to racist and discriminatory encounters that people of color had with white students and faculty at UW-Madison. Many students came forth about feeling displaced and unwanted at UW-Madison.
7. The Justice for Breonna Taylor Virtual Walkout. The Wisconsin Black Student Union, in partnership with Marquette University’s Black Student Council, hosted a virtual walkout in response to the news of the charges against the police officers responsible for the murder of Breonna Taylor.
8. The Unity Rally for Diversity on UW Campus. The Unity Rally for Diversity on UW Campus was a protest led by the university’s athletes to demand more diversity and the admission of Black students to campus in September of 2020.
9. The Demand to Remove Old Abe. The Wisconsin Black Student Union released the demand to remove the Abraham Lincoln statue that sits on Bascom Hill because of his anti-Indigenous and anti-Black views as president.
10. The @BIPOCatwisco Instagram Posts. The @bipocatwisco Instagram account was created to share stories and experiences of what it’s like to be a person of color at UW-Madison. It serves as a safe space for Badgers to anonymously share their experience without revealing their identity.
Photo courtesy of Augusta Ike, November 2019.