Unity picnic prompts pledge in Madison

Black-Latino Unity Pledge introduced to empower minorities
Unity picnic prompts pledge in Madison

The Immigrant Workers Union (IWU) based out of Madison is getting people of different races to sign a pledge of unity.

The group’s annual Black-Latino Unity Cookout was where the IWU chose to kick-off this new commitment to create a stronger network of minorities in and around the city.

“Together, we can really make a change,” said Alex Gillis with the Immigrant Workers Union.

Dozens of African-American and Latino neighbors came together in Penn Park Sunday afternoon to grill out and talk about the challenges that all ethnicities are facing.

The picnic’s coordinator Clarissa Pearson admitted that the two groups of people don’t always get along, but she’s hoping that this event will be the start of important relationships across racial lines.


“Really just trying to knock down those scapegoats, those stereotypes, and also there are a little bit of racial undertones there as well,” Pearson explained.

This year, the IWU introduced the Black-Latino Unity Pledge, a statement committing anyone who signed it to show solidarity and look beyond barriers of race and ethnicity in all environments.

“I’m not going to tolerate this any more in my schools. I’m not going to tolerate this in my neighborhood or in the workforce, and we’re not going to let these issues divide us, but bring us together,” Pearson said.

Pearson believes some serious school violence has actually been caused by tensions between Latinos and African American students, when often it is linked to gangs.

Gillis sees a big part of the problem related to the economy, such as races blaming one another for filling valuable positions in this tough job market.

“Some black people will say that the Latinos have taken the jobs, the Latinos are saying the blacks are taking their jobs, especially on the down turn of the economy,” Gillis explained.

The IWC hopes by bringing together African American and Latino neighbors, the communities can help each other tackle racism issues.

Gillis said, “This is not just about Latinos and blacks. It’s about whites and any other color. But the reality is low income families in Dane County today do not have a lot of power.”

“Definitely together, we have more power,” Gillis added.