We Honor Our Black Veterans

A new mural celebrating Wisconsin‘s veterans of color, has been installed on the exterior of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, at 30 W Mifflin Street in Madison. The multi-panel mural celebrates veterans from Wisconsin’s black community and features the faces of service members from multiple branches of military service. Made possible by the Veteran Print Project, the mural reflects the experiences of seven Wisconsin African American veterans from the Vietnam War to present day. The artwork will remain up for the next several months.

Featured Veterans and artists include:

• Major General Marcia Anderson, US ARMY Reserve; Portrait by Portia Adney, Daughter of a veteran; lettering.   by Wade Lambrigtsen, USMC

• Bryan Foster, US ARMY; Portrait by Scott Lenaway, US Army Veteran

• Jon E. Smith, USMC; Self-Portrait from Vietnam

• James “Groovy” Cocroft, US NAVY, Portrait by A.H. Romero, US ARMY

  • Carolyn Morgan, Julius Morgan, Joseph McGonigle, Verona Morgan, USAF Family; Portraits by Shawn Ganther, USAF
  • Will Williams, US Army; Portrait by Jerry Butler

Local artist Jerry Butler is completing the final piece of the installation with a powerful mural illuminating the storytelling of Vietnam Veteran, Peace activist and social justice advocate Will Williams. That panel will be installed by Thanksgiving.

In addition to the artwork, Madison’s Poet Laureate Emeritus, Fabu, generously agreed to share her poems that can be read alongside the murals. Fabu is the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and her mother was a civil rights activist in Memphis, TN. 

A brief history of the featured veterans includes, Major General Marcia M. Anderson, the first black female to reach the rank of Major General in the US Army Reserve.  Bryan Foster, a retired Army Sergeant First Class, best known for opening the first black funeral home in Madison’s history. His portrait was created by Scott Lenaway, also a US Army veteran. Carolyn Morgan, is Madison’s first black VFW commander, shares a family legacy of Air Force veterans. She is a Gulf War veteran and mother of Joseph McGonigle, also an Air Force Veteran. Her father, Julius Morgan, served in the Air Force from 1956-1968 and passed away in December 2019. The family’s legacy was captured by Air Force veteran artist Shawn Ganther of Chili, Wisconsin.

“It takes a village.” ~Unknown

Military veteran artists from around the country, as well as several artists with parents who served, provided the imagery. Traditionally, a project of this scope would involve extensive community engagement and in-person participation. Due to COVID restrictions, a more responsible and socially distanced approach was necessary to complete the project.

The founder of the Veteran Print Project and the originator of the mural, is Yvette Pino.  Ms. Pino, a native of Albuquerque, who is of Mexican and Spanish decent is also an Army veteran, with two tours in Iraq. As the Veteran Print Project, Founder and Director it was she who reached out to members of the community asking for recommendations of veterans to honor. She also sought community artists to collaborate with. Finally, she contacted her network of fellow veteran artists and asked if they would provide imagery that could be reproduced in Madison with a small group of local artists. ”There are many stories within the black community and I wanted to bring attention to and have people start the conversation about everyone who served.”  

I wanted to participate, as way to honor my father (Robert Atkinson, WWII) and other family members, who served for our country.  I accomplished this goal by bringing my artistic skills to the table. It was informative, very humbling and a pleasure to have been a part of this extraordinary project.

Thank you Yvette Pino, for your service to our country and our community.  

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Artist, Writer, Graphic Design, Jazz Radio Host here to Inform, Inspire & Ignite you to live the life you really want.

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