Why Now

Black excellence can be found in every part of Madison if you look for it: in business, leadership, education, artistic expression and more. This excellence, this affirmation of the vitality of our Black community, is worth cultivating and celebrating.

Now is the time to bring all that Black Madison has to offer to the forefront. Now is the time to celebrate our excellence.

Now is the time for The Center.

Tale of Two Cities

Year in and year out, Madison is recognized as an ideal place to live in the US. However, Dane County’s racial disparities are among the state’s most extreme, and Wisconsin is named one of the country’s worst states for Black people.

Over the last three decadesthe team behind The Center has seen Madison’s Black youth leave the city once they reach adulthood. 

It’s Not Hard to See Why 

Wisconsin’s Black families are 5x more likely than white families to live in poverty

In 2018, 61% of Black households in Dane County had income near or below the poverty line

There were more established Black-owned businesses in Dane County 75 years ago than today

Systemic inequalities are everywhere, from the education and criminal justice systems to the housing and healthcare industries. It’s not just unjust; it’s a catalyst for chronic, debilitating stress. 

Black people have infused Madison with an extraordinary amount of energy and talent. The starting point for positive outcomes in every segment of society is the same—culture. Culture is the snapshot of society that explains how and why we function. Culture gives us a sense of place in the world, allowing us to survey the past and assess the present to determine our future.

The Center as a Solution

Relief is possible. Research proves that social support and a sense of meaning are extremely beneficial in lowering the burden of chronic stress. The Center will offer visitors both. 

Together, we can build a space where the Black community in Madison can truly gather for the first time in decades; where visitors can feel the physical, mental and emotional relief of culture; where Black youth and elders alike can laugh, talk and see themselves represented; where they can refresh and reenergize from the exhaustion of everyday life.

“The Center is so needed for our children and every generation that follows. They need to see firsthand Black progress and our great history in a place of their own.”
- Edith Lawrence Hilliard
Lifetime Madisonian, Civic and Community Leader

Together, we can build a space that helps Madison live up to its reputation as one of the best places to live – for all of us.