Street sign honors Willie Lou Harris, 1930s community leader in south Madison

MADISON, Wis. — A street sign in south Madison now pays tribute to a 1930s community leader.

On Thursday afternoon, family members and community leaders held a special unveiling of a sign at the corner of Bram and Baird streets honoring Willie Lou Harris.

A community leader of south Madison in the 1930s, Harris helped build the first neighborhood in the area using two Air Force barracks.

According to Ald. Sheri Carter, who represents the area, her mother called Harris “the salt of the Earth.”

“The salt of the Earth is someone who is reliable, respectable, dependable, and always reaching out,” Carter said. “She wanted south Madison to thrive, and today that’s what we’re doing, we’re thriving.”

During Thursday’s ceremony, Michael Johnson, the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, announced the group will rename its welcome center after Harris. The club is also setting up a $100,000 endowed fund to keep Harris’ legacy alive.

Johnson also announced the club received a $1 million donation from one of Madison’s largest developers.