September 7, 2011

Milwaukee Community Journal Legacy Award

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

First, let me thank you, the readers, who voted for me to be honored with the Milwaukee Community Journal Legacy Award in the area of elected officials. It was truly a privilege because my mother was present and I was able to present the award to her. She was the person who had vision for me when I had none for myself.

Second, I would like to thank the Community Journal for being a long time vehicle for us to learn what is happening in our world, and for giving me an opportunity to have direct exchange with all of you. I am truly delighted for us to have the opportunity to share information and communicate, and I pray that this inspires us to be actively involved in the change we want and need in our community. My sole purpose for running for office was to bring my skills and talents to the table for my community and to be the bridge between government and the community. I believe this column is major cornerstone in accomplishing that goal.

With this column, I hope to keep you posted on what is going on in Madison, improve our knowledge on how to affect policy and interact with your legislator, and answer various questions that you may have. With your input, I think this process can be challenging, yet fun and informative. All I need you to do is send your questions to sen.taylor@legis.wisconsin.gov or mail them in to the Community Journal. You ask, and I will try to answer as many as possible each month.

Okay, so the first update on Madison. On September 13th, we will be ushering in a new legislative session - we have no knowledge of the agenda as of today, despite the fact that the Governor and members of the GOP have claimed that they intend to pursue a bipartisan agenda. Although I hear his words, he still has not responded to my request to meet. Nevertheless, I did my part by creating a list of solutions we can both work on, and in areas that are truly in crisis and demand our attention - jobs, corrections and education. Shortly after he said he wanted to work with Democrats, I sent a short, focused list of items to the Governor that dealt with the crucial points I just mentioned. Only time will tell if there is any truth to his claims of a bipartisan approach.

I will continue to be a voice for our community with a work ethic that I hope you can see, and which respects my motto: Here to Serve! This column will offer you a place to learn about Madison and for you to speak up, but I hope it will inspire you as well. This week, I want to remind us of Wisconsin's history regarding voting rights for non-whites. 

In 1849, Wisconsin had a statewide referendum that provided "suffrage for colored people" - voting rights. It was not until 1865 that one of my favorite Wisconsinites - Ezekiel Gillespie - demanded his right to vote after being denied. He sued Milwaukee and took it all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where they unanimously ruled in his favor in 1866! Now in 2011, in this state, we have gone from George Wallace to Scott Walker, and Wisconsin has a legislature that created a bill that creates challenges for people of color to vote.  BE LIKE EZEKIEL, STAND UP AND FIGHT BACK!  Let's make sure our family, friends, and neighbors have IDs and then let's demand our right to vote!  It has always been the Wisconsin way!

Here to serve,

Senator Taylor