Wisconsin suffers intense racial disparities exposed in common differences between the daily lives of its Black and white residents. A history of racism in the criminal justice and education systems, how these issues are locally unique, as well as efforts to right these wrongs, are explored in Wisconsin in Black & White, a PBS Wisconsin journalism project created in partnership with the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development.
Area residents will have a chance to come together in community and conversation at “Our History Matters: Wisconsin in Black & White Screening,” a free event at the Barrymore Theatre at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7.
The first two episodes of Wisconsin in Black & White will be screened as a part of this event, which were reported by Here & Now and special projects reporter Murv Seymour.
Part one examines how glaring racial disparities in Wisconsin's criminal justice system are shaped by a long history of unequal application of the law toward Black and white Wisconsinites. However, growing awareness about the effects of racism and the long-term expansion of incarceration is prompting efforts to educate about their unjust impacts and provide sustained support for people within their communities.
Part two explores how racial inequalities have profound effects on education in Wisconsin, with access gaps, economic hardship and longstanding school segregation leading to disparities in outcomes among Black, Hispanic and white students. Educators serving diverse groups of students are working to champion reading, provide mentoring and expand learning opportunities in an effort to bring opportunities into balance.
Following the screening, Rev. Dr. Alexander Gee, founder and president of Nehemiah, will host a dynamic conversation with key individuals who have shaped the need for an understanding of a shared history around racial inequalities in Wisconsin. The discussion panel will include Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara, Chair and a Professor of History in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Stephen Kantrowitz, Plaenert-Bascom Professor of History and faculty affiliate in Afro-American Studies and American Indian Studies at UW-Madison; Rev. Lilada Gee, biographer, preacher, artist and founder of Black Woman Heal; and Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Jill J. Karovsky.
The history, inequities and actions pressed for change in the program were informed and inspired by Nehemiah’s Justified Anger initiative and their Black History for a New Day Course.
As a part of Justified Anger’s 10 years of system transformation recognition, the conversation will consider the special guests’ personal experiences around racial inequality, learning Black history and what areas in Wisconsin need attention right now.
The event’s panel will include those who have developed and been impacted by Justified Anger’s initiatives, including people of color and non-Black allies working to transform their local community and broader state through personal and systemic change.
Funding for Wisconsin in Black & White is provided by the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment, DeAtley Family Foundation, Joe and Mary Ellyn Sensenbrenner, Lau and Bea Christensen, The Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of The Capital Times, Madison College, National Guardian Life Insurance Company, UnityPoint Health – Meriter, the Focus Fund for Journalism, and Friends of PBS Wisconsin.
PBS Wisconsin is a service of the Educational Communications Board and The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
PBS Wisconsin is a place to grow through learning on WHA-TV, Madison; WPNE-TV, Green Bay; WHRM-TV, Wausau; WLEF-TV, Park Falls; WHLA-TV, La Crosse; and WHWC-TV, Menomonie-Eau Claire.