About

Imagine a Space Dedicated to Black Excellence

While Madison’s racial disparities are well documented, many people don’t realize this tale of two cities isn’t just keeping Black people from moving here. It’s also causing Madison-born children to leave for cities where they see opportunities to build wealth, to access Black culture and to feel appreciated within their communities. There’s an immeasurable cost to this exodus of promising young Black people.

Imagine the impact on our community if we could keep Black talent in Madison and nurture and develop these future Black leaders. Imagine the Black voices we could amplify and the Black experiences we could share if we had the right space. Imagine how all of us would benefit if we worked together to change the trajectory of Madison’s Black community.

The Solution:
Bigger than a Community Center, Broader than a Cultural Center

Madison’s Black community needs a place to come together. 

A place to foster and accelerate the Black entrepreneurial spirit.

A place to celebrate the excellence we bring to this city and beyond.

A place to feel the physical, mental and emotional relief of our culture.

A place to laugh, talk and see ourselves represented.

Madison needs The Center for Black Excellence and Culture.

Affirming, Inspiring and Advancing Black Excellence

Rev. Dr. Alex Gee, a powerhouse team of Black leaders and hundreds of diverse Black voices are shaping The Center, ensuring it brings together a collective Black brilliance that affirms, inspires and advances the Black community in Madison and beyond.

Lord Cultural Resources, the world’s largest cultural sector planning practice and the team behind the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C., is helping establish The Center’s operations, staffing and facility recommendations and final business plan.

There isn’t a space quite like this anywhere else in the country. We’re excited to help the team at The Center bring a cultural gathering space to Madison that will definitely serve as a model for other cities to follow.”

Joy Bailey-Bryant, president of U.S. operations at Lord Cultural Resources

What The Center Will Mean for Madison Businesses

Recruiting Black talent to Madison is a well-documented challenge. The Center aims to change that in two main ways. First, The Center will educate Madison-based companies that they need to go beyond offering a welcoming environment for people of color and begin truly attracting Black talent by providing clear paths to success within their organizations. Second, The Center will give Black professionals a reason to keep their skills in Madison by providing viable opportunities to build wealth, ready access to Black culture and a place to collaborate and feel acknowledged and seen within their community.

Areas of Focus

Visitors will experience Black excellence in the following ways.

Innovation and Leadership Development

The innovation of Black people has helped to sustain and protect us for centuries. Our own leadership development is how we have passed along wisdom and survival skills from generation to generation. By giving Black entrepreneurial professionals a place in our community to meet, collaborate, share talents and find resources for their enterprises, we’re giving them a reason to keep their skills in Madison. The Center will celebrate Black business success, provide opportunities to receive true mentorship and teach young Black leaders how to build wealth while influencing the broader community.

History, Culture and Gathering

Any thriving community in the world has a cultural reference point that underscores stories as evidence of resilience, resistance and beauty. This third space, designed by the Black community for the Black community, will give Black elders, adults and youth a place to come together to celebrate the historic Black renaissance in Madison and beyond. The Center will enrich and nurture our community by affirming Black culture, teaching Black history and spotlighting the Black artistic expression that’s anchored so many souls in trying times. History is not merely how we look backwards, it is how we look to the future!

Performance

The Center’s state-of-the-art theaters, studios and gathering spaces will amplify Black voices and elevate Black talent as we welcome Black films, plays, lectures and entertainers from all over the country to our community to perform. Black visitors will feel at home in a space that promotes self-respect and joy while accommodating performances and events that proliferate the Black experience and inspire conversation, connection and cultural celebration.

Wellness

There is now medical and scientific proof that space for cultural expression and celebration in the Black community is a healing agent for stress, microaggressions, isolation and other expressions of racism. Social connectivity is now found to be a way to combat anxiety and depression and even for extending life expectancy for the Black community. The Center will offer wellness resources that correlate directly to the health and wellness experiences Black people encounter today.

Where to Find Us

Situated on 3.5 acres on the 700 block of West Badger Road in the historic Black neighborhood of S. Park Street, The Center will be a prominent landmark along the Beltline when it opens in the fall of 2023.
On the 700 block of West Badger Road and South Park Street, along the West Beltline Highway.