Posted on January 16, 2020

GOP State Rep Blasted After Pushing Resolution to Honor Whites as Part of Wisconsin’s Black History Month

Tanasia Kenney, Atlanta Black Star, January 16, 2020

A clash over how Wisconsin will honor the state’s Black history came to a head last month with lawmakers facing off on who should be celebrated — and who absolutely should not.

Republican Rep. Scott Allen ignited a debate after introducing a Black History Month resolution honoring 10 Wisconsinites, most of whom are white, who helped enslaved Blacks to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Other honorees, which included members of the Stockbridge-Munsee band of the Mohican Indians, were either Black or played a pivotal role in helping the enslaved escape to Canada, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The decision was drafted with zero input from the Legislature’s African-American members, drawing outrage among Democratic lawmakers who criticized Allen for commandeering an occasion meant to celebrate Black history.

“The one thing we do get to have control over — we can’t even have that,” said Black Rep. David Bowen of Milwaukee, calling the resolution “pretty disrespectful.”

“The same way we would not expect to have insight and control over who’s being honored for Italian History Month or for German History Month, we would respect the German lawmakers in the Legislature, Italian lawmakers in the Legislature, and we would allow them to lead on that,” he added.

Others like Sen. Lena Taylor likened Allen, who’s white, to a slave owner.

“Thank you Massa Allen for pickin’ whose we should honuh suh,” Taylor, who’s running for mayor of Milwaukee, addressed the congressman in a December email. “We sho ain’t capable of thinkin’ fo ourselves, suh.”