Artist Simone Lawrence, 29, poses in front of her portrait of Malcolm X on State Street in downtown Madison, Wis., on June 11, 2020. "This is my way to get involved," said Lawrence, who said she's been unable to participate in the marches and protests against police brutality. "I wanted to contribute to the movement. Art activism is a way to protest." Lawrence also worked on a portrait of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling, saying she hoped to "spark conversation and spark thought. I think art can speak louder than other methods of protesting. For people unwilling to protest in other ways, it sparks thought and thought is the first step towards change." "State Street is often completely inundated by white people. Seeing it transformed, forcing people to look at black bodies is important," said Lawrence, who is originally from California but has lived in Madison for seven years. "I want people to recognize that we're here. Being here as a Black artist and having white people stop and talk about what I'm doing is a first step." Credit: Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch
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Students hit hard by WI voting rules; State Street murals, Juneteenth in MKE; voters deterred in April 7 election; MKE still striving — and failing — to reach equity


Of note: This week we highlight reporting by Kayla Huynh, a University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism student who explored how Wisconsin makes it difficult for college students to vote, especially those living away from home. The pandemic — which abruptly uprooted thousands of Wisconsin college students before the April 7 election — erected another barrier. An estimated 6.9% of the state’s eligible voters are college students — a small but potent bloc in a state where elections often are decided by 1 percentage point.

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Asher Bernick-Roehr, a freshman at University of Wisconsin-Madison from St. Paul, Minn., casts his ballot during early voting on March 13, 2020, at the City Clerk’s office in Madison, Wis. He is assisted by absentee ballot clerk Teresa Holmes. College students in Wisconsin have additional requirements for voting that other voters do not face. Credit: Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Wisconsin erected barriers to college voters. The pandemic added more.

Wisconsin Watch — June 20, 2020

On the day of the Wisconsin spring primary in February, Peter German was determined to vote. In between strained breaths, German — a freshman from West Bend attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison — said he had been running from building to building in an attempt to cast his ballot. “I haven’t missed an election yet,” he said, “so I’ll be damned if I’m going to now.”

Artist Simone Lawrence, 29, poses in front of her portrait of Malcolm X on State Street in downtown Madison, Wis., on June 11, 2020. Credit: Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Mural project brought Black voices to a shuttered State Street

Wisconsin Watch — June 23, 2020

On May 31, the day after violence first broke out on State Street in Madison during demonstrations in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, a transformation began. Wisconsin Watch also visited Juneteenth celebrations in Milwaukee, which commemorates June 19, 1865, the day enslaved African American people in Texas were notified of their freedom — more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

A poll worker wearing protective gear assists a voter at Marshall High School in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020. Credit: Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Study: Poll closings, COVID-19 fears, kept many Milwaukee voters away

Wisconsin Watch — June 24, 2020

Significant numbers of Milwaukee voters were dissuaded from voting on April 7 by the sharp reduction in polling places and the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic — with the biggest effects seen among Black voters, according to a new study.

Wisconsin DACA recipients vow to ‘push on’ after Supreme Court ruling on immigration program

WPR — June 22, 2020

For Lupe Salmeron, life in the United States is conditional. Her parents brought her to Madison from Mexico when she was 6. She learned English quickly. She made friends in her neighborhood. Her parents told her they were living in the country without documentation, but she didn’t fully understand what that meant until she was in her teens. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the program that allows Salmeron to avoid deportation — at least for now.

Jesse Ambos-Kleckley, 30, marches with others in downtown Milwaukee to bring attention to police brutality on June 16. Credit: Angela Peterson / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Fannie Lou Hamer’s declaration ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired’ is still a rallying cry for Black people in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — June 25, 2020

Milwaukee has made little progress in the decades since a civil rights activist made her impassioned plea for equal rights, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter James E. Causey’s special report. 

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (wisconsinwatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, PBS Wisconsin, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.