Fall 2017 Madison Free Skool Series on Non-Violent Struggle and Direct Action!

Tue. Dec. 19th 6:30 pm  Wil-Mar Center (953 Jenifer St.)  Screening of Un Poquito de Tanta Verdad/A Little Bit of So Much Truth – the 2007 documentary about the popular uprising in Oaxaca. When a broad-based, non-violent, popular uprising exploded in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, some compared it to the Paris Commune, while others called it the first Latin American revolution of the 21st century. But it was the people’s use of the media that truly made history in Oaxaca. A Little Bit of So Much Truth captures the unprecedented media phenomenon that emerged when tens of thousands of school teachers, housewives, indigenous communities, health workers, farmers, and students took over fourteen radio stations and one TV station into their own hands, using them to organize, mobilize, and ultimately defend their grassroots struggle for justice.


Beyond Marching: Grassroots Resistance for Troubled Times!

faceoffstandingrockTues. May 2nd 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm Christ Presbyterian Church (944 E. Gorham)

Beyond Marching: Grassroots Resistance for Troubled Times!

Sixth session in a spring 2017 series hosted by the Madison Free Skool, Madison IWW, Young Gifted and Black, and the Peregrine Forum. Join us to discuss nonviolent direct action, including theory, historical examples, and relevance to our current situation. This session will continue exploring concepts in Gene Sharp’s activist handbook: How Nonviolent Struggle Works http://www.aeinstein.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/How-Nonviolent-Struggle-Works.pdf This session we will specifically be discussing the tactics of boycotts and strikes, looking at the 1960s United Farm Workers Grape Strike and Boycott (chapter 14 in Sharp’s larger Waging Nonviolent Struggle book) and the 1933 WI Milk Strike (for a reading on that, check out: http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/wmh/id/18916/show/18864

Paper copies of all suggested readings are available in the front window at Lakeside Press (1334 Williamson St.). You are also welcome to bring a dish/snack to share. Please share the Facebook event with others: https://www.facebook.com/events/308394812914280/ For more info, visit: https://madinfoshop.wordpress.com/ or call #284-9082


Madison Infoshop is Moving! New Home as of Nov. 2016 is at 1202 Williamson St. #106

gow2_wide-b0b52bdeb765cb65cf87c6fa9fa8df110eea72a0-s900-c85The Madison Infoshop will be relocating to 1202 Williamson St. #106 (within the Social Justice Center) beginning in early Nov. 2016 – thanks to a new collaboration with Madison Community Cooperative!   After decades of serving the community, Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative will be closing (another victim of gentrification and amazonification), but many of the projects Rainbow supported for so many years will still endure and thrive thanks to new friends!  We are still in the process of relocating our free lending library, zine archive, and other wonderful community activist resources, but stay tuned for updates and join us for an open house once we have settled into our new space!  We are also interested in jumpstarting our volunteer collective, so if you are interested in participating please let us know.  The Madison Infoshop is YOUR space for changing the world!  Come be part of this amazing tranformation!

Another World Is Possible! Spring 2016 Discussion Series hosted by the Madison Free Skool, the Peregrine Forum, the Madison Infoshop and the IWW Social Action & Solidarity Committee.


Tues. April 5th 6:30 pm Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative (426 W. Gilman St.)  Solidarity Unionism: a Fresh Take on How Workers Can Actually Win! Third Session of a new Spring 2016 Discussion Series “Another World is Possible” hosted by the Madison Free Skool, the Peregrine Forum, Madison Infoshop, and the Madison IWW Social Action and Solidarity Committee.  This session is meant to be more of an open discussion than a lecture, so, please bring your ideas, or, if you’d just like to come and listen in, that’s cool, too!  For those who are interested, copies of new Solidarity Unionism zine compiled by Felix Bunke are also available at Rainbow Bookstore.   Info?  Check out the Facebook event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1570657226583071/


Future dates are also available if you are interested in hosting a discussion! Come to an earlier session and let other folks know what you would like to do – the Free Skool is whatever the participants wish it to be!


Anarcho-Syndicalism! Fall 2015 Madison Free Skool Series – next session Wed. Dec. 2nd 6:30 pm at Rainbow Bookstore – 426 W. Gilman

cntWhat do Lucy Parsons, Noam Chomsky, and Ursula LeGuin have in common? How would a society based upon reciprocity, mutual aid, and solidarity function? Could our economy actually be managed by workers themselves? Join us for the second session of a new bi-weekly Madison Free Skool series, co-hosted by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the Peregrine Forum, and the Madison Infoshop. We’ll be reading Rudolf Rocker’s classic 1938 book, Anarcho-Syndicalism, along with discussion of other more contemporary readings and perspectives. Copies of the 2006 AK Press edition of Rocker’s book are available for purchase at Rainbow, the text is also available online at https://libcom.org/files/Rocker%20-%20Anarcho-Syndicalism%20Theory%20and%20Practice.pdf ) This class is whatever the participants wish it to be, so bring your own thoughts to stimulate the conversation! Our final class date is Dec. 16th, but we could also continue the series into the new year if there is enough interest.

Madison Print & Resist 2015!

Madison Print & Resist 2015 is a day-long festival of political print media, zines, experimental publications, and workshops related to the world of art, DIY culture, and political action. We’re looking for subversively creative print/media artists including zinesters, printers, poster-makers, and activist designers.


Tables available include 3’ x 6’ rectangles or 5’ circles. Tables are shareable, so let us know if you require a full or ½ table. Printers and poster-makers please note that there are spaces well-suited for combination wall + table displays. If you would like such a space, please indicate this as a preference when you apply. There is no fee, but we will ask for a 5% commission on any sales, with all proceeds going toward future event costs.

To apply for a table, please send us a description of the work — zines, posters, prints, books, etc. you intend to display. What are they about? How are they made? Do you have a philosophy or purpose? Are you a distro? Pictures, or links to images online, are preferred but not required. If you are able to bring your own table please let us know.

There will also be space for workshops (!!!), so if you’d like to propose a workshop, demonstration, skill-sharing, or presentation, please send a description of your proposal and indicate the length of time, facilities features, or A/V equipment you’d require.

Application deadline is Oct. 1st. We will get back to applicants no later than October 8th. Applications or questions may be sent by email to: madisonprintandresist@gmail.com

For more info:   http://madisonprintandresist.wordpress.com

Black Lives Matter! – the Legacy of Black Power Politics in Wisconsin

By John E. Peck

On March 6th, 2015 an unarmed black man, Tony Robinson, was shot down by Madison Police officer, Matt Kenny on the near East Side – my old neighborhood.   For days the bloody evidence of this latest episode in our nation’s sordid history of systemic racism was visible to anyone walking, biking or driving by on Williamson Street. Within hours, a memorial to Tony appeared and since then dozens of protests, marches, forums, and other actions have been organized by the Young, Gifted, and Black (YGB) Coalition. Adding insult to injury, the landlord of the apartment recently sent an eviction notice to Tony’s former roommates, along with a $1200 bill for “bio-hazard clean-up.” The Dane County District attorney, Ismael Ozanne, has yet to decide whether to press charges, but it is widely suspected nothing will happen to Kenny.

In early Feb. 2015 a couple dozen people had started gathering biweekly at Rainbow Bookstore to kick off the latest round in an ongoing Madison Free Skool series dedicated to exploring the radical roots of grassroots resistance in Midwest history.  Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement that grew out of violent racist policing in Ferguson, New York City, and elsewhere, the goal of our discussion was to strengthen the knowledge of those now challenging white supremacy by learning about the amazing legacy of black power politics in our own state spanning back 150 years.  Tony Robinson’s murder soon came to overshadow the discussion series, and made our effort even more relevant.

How did systemic racism become so entrenched in a “liberal bastion” like Madison? Why is the largest community of color in many rural areas of Wisconsin now found inside a state prison – where inmates count as part of the electorate but can’t actually vote?   Why are there more African students than African American students at such a highly rated public school like UW-Madison? These were just some of the questions we have been tackling the last few months.

Many people do not know that in 1854 Wisconsin’s Supreme Court declared the Fugitive Slave Act “wicked and cruel” effectively defying the federal government and reflecting the rising power of the abolitionist movement and in particular popular support for the case of Joshua Glover. Glover had escaped from St. Louis in 1852 and was living as a free man in Racine when Glover’s ex-master, Benammi Garland, showed up, having already placed a newspaper ad offering a $200 reward for his lost property.   Federal Judge Andrew Miller issued a warrant for Glover’s arrest and a posse grabbed him from his home and took him to the Milwaukee Jail. Word spread like wild fire and thousands of abolitionist supporters including the Racine County Sheriff marched to the jailhouse intent on freeing Glover and arresting Federal Marshal Cotton and his cronies instead on kidnapping charges. Their attitude quickly shifted from being allies to accomplices when they took a battering ram to the jail house door, rescued Glover, and then ran a gauntlet of slave catchers to hide him in a series of farm houses near Waukesha. Glover later escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad, while many abolitionists who led the “mob” were in and out of court and prison for years as result of their felony activity.

Another often forgotten episode of black history in Wisconsin was the amazing rise to power of the KKK across the state and especially in Madison during the 1920s. The Invisible Empire dispatched organizers to every county and the capitol city proved a fertile recruiting ground since the population then was dominated by white Protestants with less than 25% being Jewish or Catholic and under 300 black residents total. The KKK front group, the Loyal Businessmen’s Association, was soon holding packed meetings at the Woodmen of the World Hall on Madison’s Main St. and even sponsored its own UW-Madison fraternity. A major goal of the Madison KKK was to “clean up” Madison’s Greenbush which was teeming with the “wrong people.” Former Police Chief, William McCormick, boasted that “pretty near all the men in the department were Klansmen” as were many elected officials, making it rather easy for Klansmen to be deputized by law enforcement agencies to harass bootleggers. After dark on Oct. 4th, 1924 nearly 2000 Klansmen marched around the Capitol and through the Greenbush in a show of strength. Grassroots resistance to the KKK’s corrupting influence steadily grew. When the KKK held a cross burning in a pasture near Waunakee, locals raised the alarm and an irate crowd of farmers chased the Klansmen away. When the KKK hosted a state-wide konklave in Madison to celebrate Labor Day in 1925, a spectator rushed a parading Klansmen, dragged him off his horse, and then managed to escape from the police.

By the late 1920s the KKK had returned largely underground, though it has reemerged many times since – often in conjunction with other white supremacist organizing efforts. For instance, during the civil rights struggle in the 1960s in Milwaukee the KKK was implicated in the fire bombing of the NAACP Youth League’s Freedom House (as police blocked fire trucks from responding) and mobilized their members to “defend” the homes of elected officials exposed for ebing proud members of the “whites only” Eagle Club. In 1992 a “hate summit” was held in Janesville, WI drawing white supremacists from across the country. In 2002 the KKK supported a rally in response to racialized violence at Milwaukee’s Sommerfest, and in 2006 Nazis and their allies held another white pride rally on the steps of the WI State Capitol How much synergy now exists between racist policing and white supremacy is unclear, though it is disturbing to see uniformed officers and costumed klansmen chatting and showing off their respective tattoos at WI protests.

Another little known fact is that housing segregation in Milwaukee is the worst in the nation (with Madison being not much better). Over 90% of Milwaukee’ growing black population has been concentrated in just a 72 block area on the north side – the inner core – thanks to restrictive covenants, red lining, and outright block busting where predatory realtors would create fear amongst white homeowners on the “blighted edge” and then cash in on the panic as they fled to the suburbs. Catholic parishes, though, are place-based, so as whites left the congregations became increasingly black, leading to the rise of a cadre of radical urban priests like Father Groppi. Similar to the struggle for recognition that Young Gifted and Black is facing today in Madison, activist black youth in Milwaukee in the 1960s were often marginalized or even ostracized from existing organizations that were more assimilationist and “friendly” with the establishment. Drawing upon a more militant philosophy of “non-violence” which allowed for self defense, the Youth Commandos became a formidable symbol of black nationalism. When the decision was made to directly challenge segregation by crossing Milwaukee’s “Mason Dixon Line” over the 16th St. Viaduct “from Africa to Poland”– it was the Commandoes – not the police – who protected the marchers from the barrage of slurs, bricks, bottles, and other racist garbage. The Milwaukee Police formed its own “goon squad” backed up by the vigilantes of the Milwaukee Citizens Council to crack down on community resistance and three people were eventually killed in subsequent “race riots” in Milwaukee. Dick Gregory noted that the strength of the Milwaukee civil rights movement was that “it was not a color but an attitude” which defined which side you were on, but those living in Milwaukee today would say the struggle is unfinished.

To conclude here’s a brief look at Wisconsin’s prison industrial complex. Wisconsin’s first inmates literally built their own prison – this was at Waupun back in 1852 – and this 19th century system of penal labor (some might call it modern day slavery – up until 1951 WI inmates had to work for free) continues well into the 21st century. These “rent an inmate” programs (for ex. Badger State Enterprises) still make quite a bit of money for the Dept. of Corrections, especially when inmate wages range from just 12 cents per hour up to a maximum of $1.46 per hour. Back in the 1970s there were less than 5,000 inmates in WI prisons, but now the figure tops 20,000 with 38% being African American. If you are black and between the ages 25 and 50 in Milwaukee there is a 40% chance you are or have been incarcerated. WI taxpayers now spend more on maintaining this bloated prison industrial complex – $1.2 billion annually – then they spend supporting the entire University of Wisconsin system! This prison pipeline program for youth of color begins with police arrest profiling and continues through the whole racialized criminal injustice process – from compelled plea bargaining and punitive sentencing to biased parole violations that send 4,000 people back into the system each year even though they have not committed a fresh crime. Others end up filling jail cells simply because they can’t afford a good lawyer or post a $500 bail. Thankfully there are many prison abolitionist groups working to change this lock ‘em up and throw away the key approach such as the No Dane County Jail Working Group and Madison Organizing in Strength, Solidarity and Equality (MOSES). Believe it or not, there are alternatives to incarceration.

There were many other inspiring episodes of black power politics in Wisconsin which the Free Skool series explored – such as free black farmers homesteading in the Kickapoo in the 1850s and 1860s, as well as the Black Student Strikes from Madison to Oshkosh to Milwaukee in the 1960s and 1970s that led to the creation of multicultural studies programs.  We also discussed efforts to provide reparations for the historic survivors of racial injustice and community based strategies for nonviolent conflict resolution that don’t require police.   Of course, the real take home lesson is not to talk about about such radical history for nostalgia’s sake, but to use this knowledge to inform and empower our current organizing. One way to honor Tony Robinson, is by not letting his memory and the legacy of the others who proceeded him in this struggle for justice to simply rest in peace.





Abridged Bibliography:


Cooper, Zachary. Black Settlers in Rural Wisconsin. WI Historical Society. 1977.


Giffey, David. People’s Stories of South Madison. Part of the Decades Mural Project. 2001. http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/WI/WI-idx?type=header&id=WI.MPLPeopleStory


Goldberg, Robert. “The KKK in Madison 1922 – 1927.” Wisconsin Magazine of History, Autumn 1974. http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/wmh/id/32417/show/32357/rec/1


Harris, Richard. Growing Up Black in South Madison. Roy Tek Publishing. 2012.


Jackson, Ruby West and Walter T. McDonald. Finding Freedom: The Untold Story of Joshua Glover, Runaway Slave. WI Historical Society Press. 2007


Jones, Patrick T. The Selma of the North: Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee. Harvard Univ. Press. 2009.


Lee, Gordon. The Ku Klux Klan in Wisconsin in the 1920s. Masters in History Paper. UW-La Crosse. Aug. 1968. http://murphylibrary.uwlax.edu/digital/wisc/LeeGordon.pdf


Quinn, Lois M. and & John Pawarasat. Statewide Imprisonment of Black Men in Wisconsin. UW-Milwaukee. June 2014.   http://www4.uwm.edu/eti/2014/WisconsinStudy.pdf


WI Council on Children and Families. Race to Equity – A Baseline Report

on the State of Racial Disparities in Dane County. WCCF. 2013. http://racetoequity.net/dev/wp-content/uploads/WCCF-R2E-Report.pdf


Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections (DOC). 150 Years of Inmate Work Programs. 2003.



WISDOM. 11×15 Blueprint For Ending Mass Incarceration in Wisconsin. WISDOM. 2014. http://prayforjusticeinwi.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/WISDOMs-Blueprint-to-End-Mass-Incarceration-In-Wisconsin.pdf

Fighting for Identity – UW’s Black Student Strike and Madison’s “War on Poverty” – Next Free Skool Session – Mon. April 13th 6:30 pm Rainbow Bookstore (426 W. Gilman)


Mon. April 13th 6:30 pm Rainbow Bookstore (426 W. Gilman) Fighting for Identity – 1969 Black Student Strike at UW-Madison and the “War on Poverty” gentrification “clean-up” campaign on Madison’s South Side. Part of the Black Lives Matter spring 2015 Madison Free Skool series on the History of Black Power Politics in Wisconsin! Suggested readings available at Rainbow Bookstore or by emailing: jepeck@wisc.edu

Wisconsin Black Lives Matter – You’re invited to Get Involved! Next Statewide Conference Call – Thurs. Feb. 5th at 6:00 pm!

Do you believe that Martin Luther King Jr’s dream has yet to be fulfilled? 

Have you been inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement across the U.S.?


Do you want to do more in your own community to address racial injustice?


The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice (WNPJ) invites you to get involved in ongoing efforts across the state! For over 25 years WNPJ has been challenging systemic discrimination, and we now seek your help in the latest struggle for racial justice in our state and around the country. How can WNPJ help your local organizing work?


1.) Join our next statewide conference call! Our last call on Sun. Jan. 11th had over 85 participants with four amazing organizers and activists: Nate Hamilton: Co-Founder of Coalition for Justice; Curtis Sails: Co-Founder of Coalition for Justice; M Adams: Co-Founder of Young Gifted and Black; and Jennifer Epps-Addison: Executive Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now. You can hear the audio here: https://soundcloud.com/zh-wnpj-org/wi-black-lives-matter and read the notes here: http://piratepad.net/LUrlckFCwU

Mark you calendar for our next conference call on Thurs. Feb. 5th at 6:00 pm.

You can call in at: #712-432-0900 access code: 985296#

2.) Host a community conversation or other event/action, especially during the week of MLKJ Day! And let us know what you are doing so we can share your efforts with others! If you need organizing tips or useful resources, check out our growing toolkit: http://wnpj.org/sites/default/files/WNPJ%20GW%20toolkit%20for%20RJ%20convos%20across%20WI-2.pdf

Working together we can make a difference!

For more info, contact: zh@wnpj.org or call #608-250-9240

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! End of the Semester Celebration and Fundraiser Party Fri. Dec. 19th 4:00 – 8:00 pm Rainbow Bookstore (426 W. Gilman)!

HogwartsFestJoin Infoshop volunteers and other lovers of Madison’s only independent co-op bookstore for a holiday shindig.

There is no better time to renew your membership in Rainbow Bookstore for 2015, plus 10% off all purchases throughout the day!

There will be silent auction with many great holiday gifts; a crafty corner to make your own cards, decorations and buttons; mulled cider and holiday cookies – and starting at 6:00 pm a community potluck, bring your own dish or drink to share!

This is a family-friendly alcohol-free event, so everyone is welcome!

Don’t forget to check out the newly expanded and reorganized Infoshop lending library and zine archive!

Info? #257-6050 or #262-9036