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The Diversity Awareness Committee offers information on select 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. 

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 McSwain mjmacwi@earthlink.net.


Is our new 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 July 27 - August 9, 2021:  

Mario Jose Molina-Pasquel Henriquez (known as Mario Molina), Mexican chemist, was the first Mexican-born scientist to receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his role in discovering the threat to the Earth’s ozone layer from chlorofluorocarbon gases.

Learn more….

Dr. Molina held research and teaching positions at various renowned universities in the US and at the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom on August 8, 2013.  https://en.wikipedia.org (search for Mario Molina)

Click here for a review of recent DID YOU KNOW? articles.
Come back on August 9th for our next DID YOU KNOW? feature!


When we celebrate our heroes of war, let's remember those heroes who were never celebrated:  FORGOTTEN - The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War by Linda Hervieux (description below).

Articles, Movies & Videos

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

    THE TALK is a two-hour documentary about the increasingly necessary conversation taking place in homes and communities across the country between parents of color and their children, especially sons, about how to behave if they are ever stopped by the police.

    Aired: 02/20/17; Expires: 06/03/22 Rating: NR

    • 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

      FORGOTTEN - The Untold Story of
      D-Day's Black Heroes, At Home And At War

      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.

      Harper Collins, 2015  (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

      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.


      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

      The DID YOU KNOW? Archive
      a review of recent DID YOU KNOW? features

      DID YOU KNOW? - 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 July 13 - 26, 2021:  

      Effie Waller Smith, a black woman with Wisconsin ties, was an early twentieth-century poet known for her books of poetry, Songs of the Months (1904), Rhymes from the Cumberland (1909), and Rosemary and Pansies (1909).

      Learn more…

      Effie has only recently been recognized as a poet who, not only revered her Appalachian home and its landscapes, but “pushed readers to reconsider and perhaps reject hierarchies of race, class, gender and place.” She expressed both feminist and environmental awareness and addresses both racism and classism as well.  

      DID YOU KNOW? for June 29 - July 12, 2021:  

      Marcellus Gilmore Edson, who patented peanut butter, (US Patent #306727) was an African-American chemist from Canada.  Edson developed the idea of peanut paste as a delicious and nutritious food for people who had difficulty chewing solid food, a common issue in those days.

      Read More

      Edson was awarded his patent in 1884.  His cooled product had "a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment" according to his patent application.  He included the mixing of sugar into the paste to harden its consistency.  The patent described a process of milling roasted peanuts until the peanuts reached "a fluid or semi-fluid state."

      Interested in more?
      Marcus Gilmore Edson 
      (Wikipedia bio):  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcellus_Gilmore_Edson and 
      Who invented peanut butter:

      DID YOU KNOW? for June 15 - 28, 2021:  

      The inventor of laser cataract surgery was Dr. Patricia Era Bath, a black American ophthalmologist and inventor. She holds patents in Japan, Canada and Europe.

      Read More

      Dr. Bath's invention was called the Laserphaco Probe (1986). “Harnessing laser technology, the device created a less painful and more precise treatment of cataracts.” Bath received a patent for the device in 1988, becoming the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. In 1976, Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, which established that "eyesight is a basic human right." She was also the first African-American woman to serve on staff as a surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center.

      Interested in more?   https://www.biography.com/scientist/patricia-bath

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