Remembering the Past, Mapping the Future:

Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 8:17am

A commemoratin of the 50th Anniversary of Key Civil Rights Events

The kickoff event of the City of Madison 50th anniversary of Civil Rights events commemoration will be Friday, August 30th, 2013 from 11:30am to 1:00pm. At 11:30am the city will kick off the celebration with Mayor Paul Soglin and Department of Civil Rights Director, Lucia Nuñez followed by a spoken word performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of Multicultural Arts Initiative (OMAI). From noon to 1:00pm the city will host a History Panel with Madison Civil Rights leaders Mother Wright, Milele Chikasa Anana, Dr. Richard Harris, Dr. Eugene Farley and Sofia Snow.

The year of 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of a number of key historical events of the Civil Rights Movement nationally as well as locally. At the national level we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. This year also marks the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. At the local level we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the City of Madison Equal Opportunities Ordinance which was signed in December of 1963.

"The City of Madison recognizes that while we have made great strides in the past 50 years, there are current Civil Rights issues that require continued commitment and attention," said Mayor Paul Soglin.

The Office of Multicultural Initiatives, which houses the pioneering First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community, along with the JVN Project have teamed up with the Madison Department of Civil Rights to celebrate the life and legacy of John Vietnam Nguyen who was a modern day version of an old school civil rights crusader. Although he passed away too soon, John Vietnam made a substantive impact on those he met in Madison, his hometown Chicago and across the globe. August 30th, 2013 will be proclaimed John Vietnam Nguyen day in Madison which is an appropriate way to kick off the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.

"I never envisioned that we would ever recruit a student of John's unparalleled characteristics - as a world class scholar (Academics), a brilliant artist (Arts), and a cutting edge community leader (Activism). We call these the three A's in First Wave which is the underpinning of our operating philosophy," said Willie Ney, Executive Director and Founder, OMAI-First Wave.

This kickoff is part of a series of events the City of Madison is organizing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of key events of the Civil Rights Movement. For more information go to


  • Charlyn Cruz-Nunez608-266-4828
  • Katie Crawley608-266-4611