Last Friday, protesters held a March on Madison, to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington. Hundreds marched from Camp Randall to the Capitol building, despite the rain.
On the steps of the Capitol building, student protesters listed their demands for the University and UW-Madison Chancellor Becky Blank.
Friday evening, student speakers were unified in their calls for the removal of the Lincoln statue and the Chamberlin rock on the UW-Madison campus.
“And our final demand is calling directly on Becky Blank to hear us, to meet with Black students,” says Acosta.
That’s Nzinga Acosta, Vice-President of the Madison Wisconsin Black Student Union. Acosta says that Chancellor Blank hasn’t taken definitive action in responding to Black students’ grievances with the University.
“Nothing concrete, nothing that was a strong resounding ‘we are with you’, and that is the issue,” says Acosta.
Lincoln’s statue and the Chamberlain rock have become focal points of controversy at UW-Madison. The Black Student Union and the Student Inclusion Coalition have pushed for removing the Lincoln statue since June after the police killing of George Floyd.
They say that several of Lincoln’s actions, including his role in the mass execution of 38 Dakota men, warrants his removal from Bascom hill. Others point out that the main donor of the statue, Thomas Brittingham, was a member of the UW-Madison Klu Klux Klan interfraternity honorary society.
Chancellor Blank says the statue should stay put while acknowledging that President Lincoln’s legacy should be both critiqued and celebrated.
Controversy surrounding the Chamberlin rock has to do with its original nickname, a racially derogatory term used for large, dark rocks.
“We also call for the removal of the Chamberlin rock. White students named that rock,” says an unknown speaker at the protest.
Speakers also criticized UW-Madison’s Smart Restart plan for campus reopening, fearing a spike of Covid-19 cases when the school year begins.
“We demand a moral restart, not a smart restart. It is not smart, their decisions are putting not only the campus community in danger, but the entire Madison community,” says the unknown speaker.
Another protest was held at the Library Mall on Saturday for Jacob Blake.