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  • The Diversity Awareness Committee offers information on select events and resources related to issues of inequity, diversity and injustice in the greater Madison area to promote a culturally inclusive learning environment in PLATO. 
  • New recommendations will be added on an on-going basis. We welcome your suggestions - contact Committee Co-Chairs Kathy Michaelis (ksmichaelis@gmail.comor Mary Jo MacSwain (mjmacwi@earthlink.net).

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DID YOU KNOW? Current feature

Articles, Movies, Videos 
     NEW: The Banker (movie)  
 Report on "Mayors for a Guaranteed Income 2021-22" 

Recommended Books 

DID YOU KNOW? Archive of past posts


Is our biweekly feature highlighting the many contributions by non-mainstream individuals you might not have learned or read about. A brief fact will be posted in PLATO's Tuesday WEEKLY UPDATE email and more background on the individual and their accomplishments will be provided here.

DID YOU KNOW? for  September 13--26, 2022:  

Did You Know…14-year old Harini Logan is the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion after a first-ever spell-off at the 94-year old event. The Texas 8th grader received a trophy and check for $50,000 after going head-to-head with Vikram Raju, of Colorado. The spell-off, a format that tested the contestants on how many words they could correctly spell within 90 seconds was necessary because the 2 finalists remained tied after 18 rounds—the maximum number of rounds the Bee allows. In the spell-off Harini spelled 21 of 26 words correctly, while Vikram got 15 of 19 words right. The 2 finalists had already eliminated 232 others during the June championships.

I honestly think it's so surreal, it is my fourth time at the Bee '', Harini said on stage holding the trophy.  “This is such a dream, this is my fourth bee and I’m just so overwhelmed.”  On the first-ever-spell-off, Harini said, “At first I was a little uneasy and I decided to take it in stride… I just had to take a deep breath and tell myself to go out there and do my best and whatever happens, happens.”

The 2022 Championship Round included words like: 

For the full 2022 Championship Round word list see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/94th_Scripps_National_Spelling_Bee

Learn more…


Click here for a review of recent DID YOU KNOW? articles.
Check back every 2 weeks for our next DID YOU KNOW? feature!

Articles, Movies & Videos

  • NEW MOVIE RECOMMENDATION: The Banker (2020 period drama; 2 hrs; PG13) tells the story of 2 Black men with great business acumen forced to hire a working-class white man to pretend to be the head of their business empire while they pose as a janitor and chauffeur. (Film is based on actual occurrences in 1954.) Directed by George Nolfi; stars Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult.
    ~Winner of the 2021 NAACP Image Award--Outstanding Independent Motion Picture.
    ~Streaming on Apple TV+, Netflix, Hulu, Prime, and other services.
    ~17-minute promo is available at:  https://youtu.be/jYvcRZ7QKOU

  • FEATURE ARTICLE: "Mayors for a Guaranteed Income YEAR IN REVIEW, June 2021-2022"
    reports on the results from pilot guaranteed income projects from around the country.  Madison's recent initiative on guaranteed income (MadisonForwardFund.com) is part of a larger network of cities grappling with solutions for economic insecurity.

  • Women of the Movement - This 6-episode series is based on the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley, who in 1955 risked her life to find justice after her son Emmett was brutally murdered in the Jim Crow South. Unwilling to let Emmett's murder disappear from the headlines, Mamie chose to bear her pain on the world's stage, emerging as an activist for justice and igniting the civil rights movement as we know it today. View on:  https://abc.com/shows/women-of-the-movement(Also available on Hulu, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Apple TV,  or possibly your cable provider’s On Demand service.)

  • "It’s easy to see why they consider books dangerous..." says Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr in his September 29, 2021 Opinion column He continues, Those who ban and burn books seek to ban and burn the courage it takes to grapple with that which might leave you challenged, unsettled or changed.”

    Banned Books Week 2021 was at the end of September. Pitts' column appeared in the Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, and other news outlets.

  • "Who's afraid of critical race theory? Not the students in my classes" An interesting article on the currently very hot topic of Critical Race Theory by Ohio University Associate Professor of Political Science Vincent Jungkunz (The Washington Post Opinion, June 23, 2021)

  • ARTICLE: Asian-Americans express their concerns about identity in this May 28, 2021 YES! magazine interview, "9 Artists Explore the Pride and Joys of Being Asian American and Pacific Islander" by Enkhbayar Munkh-Erdene.

  • Anti-Racism and Racial Justice
A collection of PBS programs focusing on Anti-racism and racial justice.  An amazing range of great content.

Be sure to explore PBS Wisconsin's new (2021) on-demand digital series, Why Race Matters as Host and Producer Angela Fitzgerald examines issues of importance affecting Wisconsin's Black communities.
Tim Wise, June 1, 2020, 8 minutes read via Medium
Emmanual Acho,  YouTube Series Started in June 2020, each runs 10-20 minutes
  • A Case Study in White Allyship:  Seeing Our Schools Through the Eyes of Black Parents

    Black Like Me Podcast, S4 Ep. 87, March 31, 2020

    Dr. Alex Gee talks with three white parents of kids in a local Madison school who have been joining anti-racism efforts in reaction to an incident with a black child. Listen in to the revealing conversation with Kate Kaio, Jeremy Holiday, and Eli Steenlage as they navigate their own equity journey while trying to support the black family, the African-American community, and the school community.

    Read the Cap Times Article, "Fragile Trust," about the family involved in the school incident.

  • Article from The 1619 Project, New York Times Magazine: What Does a Traffic Jam in Atlanta have to do with Racial Segregation?  Quite a Lot
Caire lists over 100 reports and news articles about racial disparities in Madison dating back to 1931.  You don't have to read each news article - just the titles tell the story.
    • Movies with a racial equity themes

    Recommended Books

    A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America

    (Little Brown & Co., 2021)
    by Clint Smith 

    The UW-Madison "Big Read" Selection for 2022-23

    A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, "How the Word Is Passed" illustrates how some of our country's most essential stories are hidden in plain view—whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted.

    Informed by scholarship and brought to life by the story of people living today, Smith's debut work of nonfiction is a landmark of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in making sense of our country and how it has come to be.

    NOTE: In conjunction with the UW-Madison "Big Read" program, author Clint Smith is slated to speak about his work writing "How the Word is Passed" on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, 7 pm at the Memorial Union.  Check the "Big Read" website for details.

    Just as I Am: A Memoir

    (Harper Collins, 2021)
    by Cicely Tyson

    “Just as I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside…And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.” 

    Cicely Tyson was an actress, lecturer, activist, and one of the most respected talents in American theater and film history. Her work garnered critical and commercial applause for more than 60 years. Her 2 Emmys for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman made her the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress.

    In 2013, Ms. Tyson won the Tony Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Trip to Bountiful. A capstone achievement came in 2018, when she became the first Black woman to receive an honorary Oscar. Another highlight from her lengthy list of honors was being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. 


    (Dutton, 2021)
    by Jason Mott

    bookcoverOne of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction | One of Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2021 | One of Shelf Awareness's Top Ten Fiction Titles of the Year | One of TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books | One of NPR.org's "Books We Love" | EW’s "Guide to the Biggest and Buzziest Books of 2021" | One of the New York Public Library's Best Books for Adults |…………..[list of awards goes on and on!]

    "An astounding work of fiction from a New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott, always deeply honest, at times electrically funny, that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans, and America as a whole."

    In Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and urgent: since Mott’s novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

    As these characters’ stories build and build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it’s also about the nation’s reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.

    Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind?  Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, Hell of a Book is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years. And in its final twists it truly becomes its title.

    Available at Madison Library – print and audio versions.


    (Crown Publishing; Oct. 2021) 

    by Jay Caspian Kang

    "A riveting blend of family history and original reportage by a conversation-starting writer for The New York Times Magazine that explores-and reimagines-Asian American identity in a Black and white world. In 1965, a new immigration law lifted a century of restrictions against Asian immigrants to the United States.

    Nobody, including the lawmakers who passed the bill, expected it to transform the country's demographics. But over the next four decades, millions arrived, including Jay Caspian Kang's parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. They came with almost no understanding of their new home, much less the history of "Asian America" that was supposed to define them.

    The Loneliest Americans is the unforgettable story of Kang and his family as they move from a housing project in Cambridge to an idyllic college town in the South and eventually to the West Coast. Their story unfolds against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding Asian America, as millions more immigrants, many of them working-class or undocumented, stream into the country.  [From book jacket]

    FORGOTTEN - The Untold Story of
    D-Day's Black Heroes, At Home And At War
    (Harper Collins 2015)

    by Linda Hervieux

    The injustices of 1940's Jim Crow America are brought to life in this extraordinary blend of military and social history--a story that pays tribute to the valor of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributors at D-Day have gone unrecognized to this day.

    In the early hours of June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African-American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. Their orders were to man a curtain of armed balloons meant to deter enemy aircraft. One member of the 320th would be nominated for the Medal of Honor, an award he would never receive. The nation’s highest decoration was not given to black soldiers in World War II.

    Drawing on newly uncovered military records and dozens of original interviews with surviving members of the 320th and their families, Linda Hervieux tells the story of these heroic men charged with an extraordinary mission, whose contributions to one of the most celebrated events in modern history have been overlooked. Members of the 320th—Wilson Monk, a jack-of-all-trades from Atlantic City; Henry Parham, the son of sharecroppers from rural Virginia; William Dabney, an eager 17-year-old from Roanoke, Virginia; Samuel Mattison, a charming romantic from Columbus, Ohio—and thousands of other African Americans were sent abroad to fight for liberties denied them at home. In England and Europe, these soldiers discovered freedom they had not known in a homeland that treated them as second-class citizens—experiences they carried back to America, fueling the budding civil rights movement.

    In telling the story of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, Hervieux offers a vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America, and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice.

    Available through Madison Public Library

    Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man
    by Emmanual Acho

    book coverAn urgent primer on race and racism, from the host of the viral hit YouTube series, "Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man". Emmanual Acho as both video host and author takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, that many white Americans are afraid to ask - yet questions which all Americans need the answers to, now more than ever. 

    Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho started his online video series to give white people a non-judgmental space to ask questions about race and racism.  "You cannot fix a problem you don't know you have" says Acho. “There is a fix,” he feels, “But in order to access it, we’re going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations.”

    The Sum of Us:  What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
    by Heather McGhee

    A 2021 New York Times Bestseller and Amazon Editors' Pick: Best History 

    One of today's most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn --racism has a cost for everyone-- not just for people of color.

    I 'm Still Here:
    Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

    by Austin Channing Brown

    In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value "diversity" in their mission statements, I'M STILL HERE is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric--from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.

    I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness is a 2018 memoir by Austin Channing Brown. The book became a bestseller during the mid-2020 resurgence of national interest in racial injustice following the George Floyd protests.


    by Ibram X. Kendi, Published by One World, 2019

    Kendi is a on a mission to push those of us who believe we are not racists, who support ideas and policies affirming that the “the racial groups are equal in all their apparent differences—that there is nothing right or wrong with any racial group”. This is a 21st century manual of racial ethics.

    Kendi is also the author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, 2017.

    New York Times Bestseller

    Grand Avenue - A Novel in Stories

    by Greg Sarris

    Grand Avenue runs through the center of the Northern California town of Santa Rosa. One stretch of it is home not only to Pomo Indians making a life outside the reservation but also to Mexicans, blacks, and some Portuguese, all trying to find their way among the many obstacles in their turbulent world

    “Grand Avenue” by Greg Sarris - One of the very best works of fiction by and about Native Americans - A compelling sequence of interwoven stories about a Native American community - “a gritty, power-filled book, unsparing and unapologetic”.  1994, 244 pages

    PLATO is proudly supported in part by Oakwood Village.

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