African American Voices

“When I came back to America, I became more confident in who I was.”

My mom and dad are both from Somalia, and they came to the United States with their families when they were really young. They were fleeing the civil war in Somalia. Photos by Kara Counard “For the first 14 years of my life, I lived in Minnesota. In Minneapolis there’s a huge Somali population, but …

“When I came back to America, I became more confident in who I was.” Read More »

Yasmin Nur | Green Bay, WI

Directing the UW Marching Band During the Coronavirus

“I didn’t go to college intending to become a band director, although the reason I went to the University of Alabama, in large part, was because I liked their marching band. I majored in music, but wanted to be a lawyer. That was the plan. Photo by Bryce Richter | UW-Madison The shift happened somewhere …

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Corey Pompey | Madison, WI

“I really love what I do.”

In this series, we are featuring the Odyssey Project, a University of Wisconsin humanities class for adult students facing economic barriers to college. With its whole family approach to breaking the cycle of generational poverty through access to education, this program has been transformational. Albert Watson is an alumnus of Odyssey. I’m originally from Kankakee, …

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Albert Watson | Madison, WI

“I see myself as someone who knows both cultures—American and Somali.”

I grew up in Mogadishu, Somalia. Somalis have a very close culture, we take care of each other. If someone doesn’t have a car, you take them to work. If someone is not making enough money, we help them with the rent by chipping in. If something tragic happens, like someone becomes sick or gets …

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Mohamud Farah | Barron, WI

“I couldn’t see what the other kids were seeing.”

My maternal grandparents were a huge part of my life. They were at every school play, every softball game, every recital, every doctor’s appointment, everything. My father was not in our lives, but I lived with my mom and my sister, and my grandparents were basically like second parents. Especially my grandpa. I always felt …

“I couldn’t see what the other kids were seeing.” Read More »

Melinda Dresen | Madison, WI