Radio Chipstone: Black Male Suffrage

Apr 7, 2018

Pictured: Ezekiel Gillespie
Credit Courtesy of Gianofer Fields

In the the early 1840s Wisconsin had a high enough population to meet the criteria for becoming a state. There was a diverse group of people living here, including native peoples, north easterners, and people from the upper south, many of whom originally came to the area during the lead rush in the 1820s. 

There was also a substantial population of black people, whose arrival in Wisconsin can be traced back to the 1720s. Many came to Wisconsin with French fur traders, others with southern officers, and some arrived as enslaved people. Despite their long history in the region, when Wisconsin finally became a state in 1848, they were not allowed to vote. 

Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara is an Associate Professor of Afro-American Studies at UW Madison. She believes Wisconsinites need to own that history, and understand the steps it took to get to where we are today. One major step? Gaining the right to vote. 

Material culture contributor Gianofer Fields curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is funded by the Chipstone Foundation, a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.