The Black Voice (TBV) was founded and published its first issue at the University of Wisconsin-Madison back in 1971. TBV was created with the mission to provide a safe space for Black and African diasporic students attending UW-Madison. Beyond the campus itself, TBV also serves surrounding communities.
Following the Black Student Strike that took place at UW-Madison in 1969, TBV became a space of collaboration, acceptance, and above all, community. TBV was one of the only spaces that Black students felt truly belonged to them.
In 1973, TBV released its final print issue. After serving the campus for two years, TBV seemed to lose steam until it was revitalized in 2014 by Jordan Gaines. She knew TBV’s history and knew it critical for the Black community on UW-Madison’s campus.
Jordan Gaines graduated from UW-Madison in 2016 with a B.A. in English Language and Literature and Black Women’s Studies. She converted the once print publication into an online news website which is how TBV operates today.
TBV is also a class that UW-Madison students can take for credit and is under the direction of our academic advisor, Professor Sue Robinson of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC).
As a requirement of the class, students taking TBV for credit are required to attend bi-weekly meetings as well as produce content throughout the semester.
Content ranges from campus news, op-ed pieces, video, audio and more. You name it, TBV students are doing it or have done it in the past.
In 2019, TBV was approached by the UW-Madison Communications Department. The university was celebrating its 50th anniversary of the 1969 Black Student Strike and wanted to create a project highlighting all the students involved and their fight for equality and acceptance on campus.
TBV was in charge of interviewing different alumni to get their stories and experiences. Many of the alumni that TBV interviewed were key members in the strike and led protests, wrote demands and were penalized for their participation in the strike.
Hours of interviews were transcribed by TBV students and turned over to the Communications Department so the interviews could be included in the project.
The final project, entitled “13 Demands,” was praised by many and was even recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The project website won the Gold Award for “Special News Website.” A huge part of the project was the dedication that TBV students had to getting the job done.
Currently TBV has six paid executive board members and is in our first year of receiving funding from the Associated Students of Madison, which allows us to be able to put on programming and other projects with our funding.
This past year TBV has been fortunate enough to interview both Chancellor Rebecca Blank and the SJMC’s first Black professor and also work rigorously on producing a documentary.
The work of the TBV should never go unnoticed because the work its members are doing is important and has a big impact on UW-Madison’s campus and surrounding communities.