DoIT Presents: Reckoning With Our History: UW–‍Madison’s History Of Discrimination And Resistance

We’re pleased to extend an invitation to you to participate in what promises to be an impactful event focusing on the historical context and origins of racism and discrimination on our campus.

Sponsored by DoIT’s Equity & Diversity Committee and open to all on campus, please join us for a Zoom event on Tuesday, June 29 from 10-11:30am: Reckoning With Our History: UW–‍Madison’s History Of Discrimination And Resistance.

Uncovering and giving voice to the histories of discrimination and resistance on our campus is difficult work, revealing uncomfortable truths while taking stories of hate and violence out of the shadows of UW–Madison’s past.

At the same time, these acts of reflection and reckoning can also be “a balm for the soul” as we work toward building a more equitable campus community, says our event presenter, UW–Madison Public History Project Director Kacie Lucchini Butcher.

We hope you will consider joining us for Kacie’s presentation, which will include the following topics:

  • The experiences of marginalized people on our campus, including African Americans and Indigenous Americans; with a brief overview on how the United States historically funded land-grant universities with expropriated Indigenous land
  • Some “notable firsts” (including the first African American male and female graduates of the university, their journeys, accomplishments and struggles)
  • Historical stories and context about housing discrimination on campus
  • Information on resistance movements on campus, reflecting a long history of protest, activism and fighting for change

The first known American Indian students on campus were in 1903 and 1904 with Milton Baine and Thomas St. Germane who both were listed as playing football for UW-Madison, but were not actually allowed to play. Thomas St. Germaine, was already a football star when he was admitted to the Law School in 1904. And yet, he didn’t start in a single game that year. The Janesville Daily Gazette noted that “no colored or red-skinned athlete can have a place on a team” under the coach at the time. Faced with a hostile environment, St. Germaine left in 1907. He later graduated from Yale Law School, became the first attorney to play for an NFL team, and then became a tribal judge and the first Native American in Wisconsin to be admitted to the bar.

However, the first known American Indian graduate at UW-Madison was not until 1946, and 33 Native Americans graduated from UW-Madison between 1946-1975, including Ada Deer (former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Interior) and Chadwick Smith (former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation).  Looking at the entire 20th century from 1946-1999, there were 553 Native Americans who graduated at UW-Madison.  Today, there are approximately 1,000 Native American alumni of UW-Madison, and many have gone on to distinguished careers as elected tribal leaders, representatives in tribal government, artists, lawyers, scientists, doctors, information technology specialists, professors, athletes, and business professionals.

Registration is not required for the event—feel free to simply click on the Zoom link and join us for the presentation and discussion, with the opportunity to ask questions.

The event has been added to the UW–Madison events calendar, so please feel free to add the event to your own websites and intranets:

You may also read more about the event on