Here’s the thing about history: it’s messy and sometimes ticks people off.
For the second straight session, black members of the Wisconsin Assembly are blasting white Republicans because a resolution marking Black History Month reinforces only a part of history that’s acceptable to whites.
The Assembly passed a resolution drafted by the Legislature’s black caucus yesterday honoring Black History Month, but only after removing a reference to history that’s too hot for the whites: Colin Kaepernick’s protest for racial equality.
“It is critical for this body to recognize the black caucus and recognize the resolution we put forward,” Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee said during floor debate. “Many of these people that you don’t agree with will still be in the history books that your children and grandchildren will be reading.”
The white lawmakers exhibited a “textbook example of white privilege,” he said.
Kaepernick, who was born in Milwaukee and has donated to a Milwaukee organization that works with teens, led a protest against police shootings of black people by kneeling during the National Anthem at NFL games when he was a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers. He’s been unable to find work in the league since.
In its resolution, the legislature cited more than two dozen black leaders but Republicans balked at Kaepernick.
“I think it’s important to recognize the contributions of literally thousands and thousands of African-Americans to our state’s history but also trying to find people who, again, bring us together. Not look at people who draw some sort of vitriol from either side,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said.
The Republican alternative resolution removed Kaepernick.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the debate will move to the Senate today.
Republican Sens. Alberta Darling of River Hills and Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield signed onto the version of the resolution honoring Kaepernick, according to the lead sponsors of the measure.
“It’s outrageous that some Republicans feel they can censor African-American legislators in this way,” said Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee, who co-authored the resolution. “So while we celebrate the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, evidently the Republicans don’t think the 1st Amendment rights should be afforded to African-Americans.”
In 2018, Republican Rep. Scott Allen of Waukesha said he and other Republican lawmakers objected to the black caucus’ resolution that year because it didn’t include black Wisconsinites he believed should be honored, including U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and former Milwaukee Sheriff David E. Clarke Jr., who has been criticized for demeaning black residents of the state.
“He decided to take on ownership of a problem that he saw, which was police brutality, and the fact that we hope everyone in this room recognizes that black lives are important and yes, they do matter,” Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, said, quoted by the Capital Times. “Whether you dislike the method that he used, understand that it is a part of America’s DNA, not just African-Americans. Protest. The personal ability to show one’s dissent.”
A Republican representative tweeted — then deleted — a response.
Tweet has since been deleted ⬇ pic.twitter.com/xKZtqjJBJS
— Jessie Opoien (@jessieopie) February 12, 2019
Rep. Barbara Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, told reporters, however, that she did not send the tweet.