Students strike for a Black Studies department, Madison hires its first African-American police officer, and teenagers burn a cross on a black family’s front law.
Madison in the Sixties – The Movement
January 3— Governor Warren Knowles appoints Madison police department’s number two man, inspector Herman Thomas to the State Equal Rights Council.
January 10— The regents confirm the appointment of Merritt Norvell, the community services administrator with the city Housing and Community Development department, as vice chancellor for student affairs.
January 20— Ruth B. Doyle resigns as administrator of the Special Program of Tutorial and Financial Assistance she initiated and nurtured, forced out by black students who insist the program be run by a black director. Doyle, whom the students praise as “a beautiful person,” becomes assistant to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Norvell.
February 7 – 27— The Black Studies Strike, the most successful civil rights or political protest of the decade, twelve days of disruption and an hour of destruction leading to the creation of a Black Studies Department. Sparked by the symposium “The Black Revolution: To What Ends,” the action includes groups of several hundred blocking campus buildings and classrooms, rallies of more than a thousand, street disruptions by several thousand and marches of five to ten thousand. The National Guard is called to campus, where they keep buildings open at the point of a bayonet.
March 18— Ald. Alicia Ashman, joined by National Organization for Women cofounder Dr. Kathryn Clarenbach, reports that several city ordinances discriminate against women, from employment to banking. “Even in Madison,” she says, “unwed mothers employed by the city are ineligible for maternity benefits.” Ashman and Clarenbach propose amending the Equal Opportunities Ordinance to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex or age; the commission agrees to draft the amendment.
April 1— Three white west side teenage boys, ages thirteen to fifteen, apologize to African American music professor James Latimer and his wife for burning a four- foot- high wooden cross on the front lawn of their home at 3922 Hillcrest Dr. a few nights earlier. The boys explain they had “nothing else to do” and had no malicious intent. The Latimers accept their apology. In the immediate aftermath of the cross burning, 230 neighbors sign a petition declaring they are “deeply ashamed [by] such an inhumane act.”
May 20— Bill Russell, player- coach of the Boston Celtics, talks about race relations and politics and answers questions for about two hours in a Panhellenic Council event for nearly two hundred white students at the First Congregational Church. He condemns the US Olympic Committee and its president, Avery Brundage, as racist and celebrates the protest by sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico City Olympics last summer: “It’s hep what those guys did with the black gloves and all.”
August 4— Mary Louise Symon, former chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), and others announce the formation of Citizens for Civic Peace, formed to press the Madison Police Department to integrate the force through new recruitment and training policies. “These are not normal times and we cannot rely on normal procedures,” says Madison Urban League president Hilton E. Hanna.
September 18— Air Force Sergeant Johnny E. Winston, twenty- one, recently returned from Vietnam, is certified by the Police and Fire Commission as the first black member of the 226- member police department. Currently an air policeman at the Tyndall base in Panama City, Florida, Winston enlisted shortly after graduating from high school in South Bend, Indiana. During a two- year posting at Truax Field, he married Mona Adams, 15 Lakeshore Ct.; they have a year- old son, John Jr. Sergeant Winston is scheduled for discharge next June but may be released early to start his new job.
October 24— Sophomore Carolyn Williams of Racine, a member of the social and service sorority Delta Sigma Theta, is named UW’s first black homecoming queen.205
December 1— Governor Warren Knowles appoints State Department of Local Affairs and Development division administrator Charles Hill as acting secretary of the department, making him the highest- ranking black official in state history. Knowles promises to make the appointment permanent once Hill, who was the Madison Redevelopment Authority’s former community services director, completes the probationary period for his current civil service administrator post.
December 11— The first issue of the first black newspaper at the university, and Beautiful, is dedicated to Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clarke, recently shot to death by Chicago police officers: “Remember December 4, 1969 with anger and determination.”
December 30— The Dane County Board’s judiciary committee endorses a resolution by Madison supervisors Richard A. Lehmann and James T. Sykes adopting as county policy the recent city ordinance cracking down on private clubs with race- based membership rules. The resolution goes to the County Board, where its chances are uncertain.