Social Justice Events and Readings

    • UBUNTU: The African concept that our own well-being is connected to the well-being of others.

    • WHITE RAGE: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson, 2016

    • LOCKING UP OUR OWN: Crime and Punishment in Black America , 2017 by James Forman, Jr.

The Diversity Committee has compiled a list of events and recommended readings related to issues of inequity, diversity and injustice in the greater Madison area to promote a culturally inclusive learning environment in PLATO.  We hope to develop additional materials and welcome your suggestions. Contact Committee Co- Chairs Kathy Michaelis ( or Rick Orton ( for the Diversity Committee meeting schedule.


Black Restaurant Jamboree 

Sample food from vendors participating in the following week’s Black Restaurant Week.  

The link provides a list of vendors at this kickoff event:

      • $2 per sample
      • Friday, August 9, 5-8 p.m.
      • Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, 501 E Badger Rd, Madison
      • Enter E Badger Rd off Rimrock Rd 

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Black Restaurant Week

The theme this year is “Harnessing the Power of Black Excellence.” The Madison Black Chamber promotes the fourth annual Black Restaurant Week in support of Black businesses.  Each participating food vendor will have a special during the week.

      • Aug. 11-18, 2019
      • Various locations around Madison
      • Fot a list of participating Restaurants, Food Carts and Caterers, select the following link:

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A Celebration of Diversity Community Picnic

All Are Welcome

Free Event

  • August 25, 2019  
  • 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Oscar Rennebohm Park (Eau Claire Ave. and Regent St. -  westside near DOT bldg.)
  • Pizza, watermelon and cold drinks will be supplied (or bring your own lunch). 
  • Activities for kids; fellowship for adults.

  • All are Welcome to this Free Event. 
  • Sponsored by Wisconsin Faith Voices and Muslim Women of Madison. 
  • For more information contact Rabbi Bonnie Margulis @  608-827-9482.

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Wisconsin's Immigrant History

UW Continuing Studies

  • September 18 - October 16, 2019, 
  • Pyle Center (702 Langdon St)  
  • Fee $80.00
  • Register by phone: 608-262-2451  or Online.

Learn some of the stories of Wisconsin’s immigrant history. Who came here, when, and for what reasons? What parts of culture did people carry from their old homes to this new land? After a broad introduction to Wisconsin’s population changes, we hear case studies about German, Latino, Hmong, and Jewish immigrants.

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A Play by August Wilson 

FENCES, a play by August Wilson, tells the story of an African-American family in the 1950’s.  Winner of the Pultizer Prize, Wilson’s protagonist “has gone through life in a country where to be proud and black was to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul.”

The play will be staged at APT in August and September!

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Recommended Reading

The Diversity Committee hopes to make additional recommendations in the future - we welcome your suggestion. Contact Committee Co- Chairs Kathy Michaelis ( or Rick Orton (

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The African Concept of UBUNTU

Achieving Social Justice requires acknowledgement that our own well-being is connected to the well-being of others.  “I am because of you;” “People are not people without other people.”

This is the African concept of UBUNTU

    • A 15 minute TED Talk: Boyd Varty, December 2013

    • A (very) brief history of the term. For a great overview of the origins of Ubuntu, check out this article from Media Club South Africa. According to the piece, the first use of the term in print came in 1846 in the book I-Testamente Entsha by HH Hare. However, the word didn’t become popularized until the 1950s, when Jordan Kush Ngubane wrote about it in The African Drum magazine and in his novels. In 1960, the term made another leap as it was used at the South African Institute for Race Relations conference. According to Wikipedia, the concept of Ubuntu transformed into a political ideology in Zimbabwe, as the nation was granted independence from the United Kingdom. From there, in the 1990s, it became a unifying idea in South Africa, as the nation transitioned from apartheid. In fact, the word Ubuntu even appears in South Africa’s Interim Constitution, created in 1993: “There is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimization.”

    • Desmond Tutu’s take. Ubuntu became known in the West largely through the writings of Desmond Tutu, the archbishop of Cape Town who was a leader of the anti-apartheid movement and who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. As he approached retirement, Tutu was asked by Mandela to chair South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which sought to come to terms with the human rights offenses of the past in order to move into the future. In his memoir of that time period, No Future Without Forgiveness, Tutu writes, “Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, ‘Yu, u nobunto’; ‘Hey so-and-so has ubuntu.’ Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, ‘My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life.” For more analysis of how Ubuntu inspired Tutu, check out the book Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu, written by Michael Battle, who studied under the archbishop.

    • Nelson Mandela’s take. In 2006, South African journalist Tim Modise interviewed Mandela and asked him specifically how he defines the concept of Ubuntu. Mandela replies, “In the old days when we were young, a traveller through a country would stop at a village, and he didn’t have to ask for food or water; once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not address themselves. The question therefore is, are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you, and enable it to improve? These are important things in life. And if you can do that, you have done something very important.” Watch Modise reflect on Mandela’s death on CBS This Morning.

    • Bill Clinton’s take. Former US President and 2007 TED Prize winner Bill Clinton (watch his talk) has embraced the philosophy of Ubuntu in his philanthropic work at the Clinton Foundation. “So Ubuntu — for us it means that the world is too small, our wisdom too limited, our time here too short, to waste any more of it in winning fleeting victories at other people’s expense. We have to now find a way to triumph together,” he said at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in 2006. He’s applied these theories to politics as well. At a Labour Party conference in the UK in 2006, he told the Labour delegates that society and collaboration is important because of Ubuntu. “If we were the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the most wealthy, the most powerful person — and then found all of a sudden that we were alone on the planet, it wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans,” he said.

    • Ubuntu, the operating system. Ubuntu is also the name of “the world’s most popular free OS.” It was named this by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, who launched Ubuntu in 2005 to compete with Microsoft. Unbuntu is all about open source development — people are encouraged to improve upon the software so that it continually gets better. According to this article in The New York Times  from 2009, “Created just over four years ago, Ubuntu (pronounced oo-BOON-too) has emerged as the fastest-growing and most celebrated version of the Linux operating system, which competes with Windows primarily through its low, low price: $0.” Read up on Ubuntu’s latest release, or check out this list of great Ubuntu apps.

    • Ubuntu in basketball. According to, Ubuntu has had an effect on the NBA. The concept trickled into American professional basketball through Kita Thierry Matungulu, a founder of the South African organization Hoops 4 Hope. In 2002, Matungulu ended up at the same table at a fundraising event with Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics and introduced him to the concept of Ubuntu. Five years later, Rivers invited Matungulu to speak to his team, and Ubuntu became their rallying call — it was even inscribed in their championship rings in 2008. Most recently, Rivers brought the concept to the Los Angeles Clippers. “Ubuntu works in life. It works for everybody. It doesn’t have to be basketball,” says Rivers. “It’s about being resilient and sharing the joy with your teammate when he’s doing well and feeling the pain when your teammate is feeling bad.”

    • Ubuntu to turn back climate change? Can Ubuntu’s ideas about collectivity be applied to climate change? South African activist Alex Lenferna argues yes. In an essay published today in Think Africa Press, “What Climate Change Activists Can Learn From Mandela’s Great Legacy,” Lenferna shares how thinking about our collective humanity could help form a united front of environmentalism. Of Ubuntu, Lenferna writes, “If we accept such a philosophy, then given our knowledge of anthropogenic climate change, our drive to enrich ourselves through the use of greenhouse gas intensive modes of development at the expense of our climate, our planet and the well-being of current and future generations should not be seen as true development but something that violates Ubuntu, diminishes our humanity, and makes us as individuals, nations, and as a global community, less than we could otherwise be.” This idea of Ubuntu inspiring an overhaul of our resource use is gaining traction — it came up at the Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa in January of 2012. Could this way of thinking extend across the globe?

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WHITE RAGE: the Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,

by Carol Anderson, 2016

Ever since the 1865 passage of the 13th Amendment,every time African Americans have made advances toward full participation in our democracy, white reaction – usually in the courts and legislatures – have fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains.  Anderson carefully links historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, showing the long lineage of white rage.

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Locking Up Our Own:

Crime and Punishment in Black America , 2017 

by James Forman Jr. 

  • Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction
  • Long-listed for the National Book Award
  • Finalist, Current Interest Category, Los Angeles Times Book Prizes
  • One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2017
  • Short-listed for the Inaugural Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice

Former public defender James Forman, Jr. is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color. In Locking Up Our Own, he seeks to understand the war on crime that began in the 1970s and why it was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers.  

Well written putting our current situation in historical context.

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