Students attend Black History Month event in Madison


Leland Hanewall

Members of SHS FACT club pose with legislators at the Capitol building. The club gave a presentation about the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco.

Members from FACT Club (an anti-somking and tobacco club), Youth Rising Up and ACLU Club participated in a field trip to Madison on February 27. The group attended the Legislative Black Caucus Black History Month Lobby Day at the Wisconsin Capitol Building and a subsequent dinner at the Wisconsin Governor’s Residence. 

Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor started the event to celebrate and showcase people of color at the State Capitol, as well as to encourage more youth of color to be politically active. 

“It’s something that we’ve done annually now since at least 2008,” Taylor said. “It’s an opportunity for people to lobby to elected officials across the state in order to hear from them and to be able to share with them what they believe should happen on various pieces of legislation. And then more than anything, just to see this beautiful building.”

While at the  Capitol, students gave presentations on their clubs and watched a film about voter suppression.

FACT wanted to be a part of this event because we did a special workshop on how to engage youth in the political process… it’s part of Black History Month and we wanted to attend the lobby day in Madison,” said Nia Kamara, senior and FACT club member. 

Students also participated in a lobbying event at the Capitol where they went to the offices of their elected officials to talk about changes that they wanted to see.

“We talked about changes in school, changes in taxes for children to go to school, open enrollment for students and new infrastructure for the roads in Milwaukee,” said Jahana Eiland, sophomore and member of Youth Rising Up. “I chose to come here because I felt like everybody needed to hear what we had to say and get a point of view from younger people and maybe think about some of the changes that we talked about and maybe make some of that stuff happen for us.”

Kamara was glad that she could be more hands-on with matters she cares about.

“Our voices really matter and our opinions matter,” Kamara said. “If there’s something going on that’s not right, we can literally walk into our senator’s office and say we need this policy.”

Our voices really matter and our opinions matter,

— Nia Kamara, FACT club member

Following the day event at the Capitol building, Wisconsin governor Tony Evers hosted the first Legislative Black Caucus Black History Month Lobby Day Reception at the Governor’s mansion.

Hiwot Schutz, junior and president of ACLU club, feels that events like the ones the students attended are important to have.

“It was really inspiring to see black people, especially black women, holding such important roles in our government. It definitely allowed me to see myself in those positions,” Schutz said. 

Evers also thinks that the event is important.

“There are lots of African American leaders from around the state here, first of all, to celebrate what Black Wisconsinites have meant for our state, but secondly and more importantly, to talk about and make sure that we’re not satisfied with what has been accomplished now,” Evers said. “We have to do more.” 

After the long day of events, Shorewood students felt they had a better understanding of what it means to be politically active and how their voice matters.

“[I learned to] be more proactive in my community,” Eiland said. 

Schutz believes that it was a worthwhile event, and she encourages students to attend in the future. 

“If our school has another chance to go to this event I think everyone should go. It was really interesting and fun.”