ABOUT THIS BOOK
Only a fraction of what is known about Madison’s earliest African American settlers and the vibrant and cohesive communities they formed has been preserved in traditional sources. The rest is contained in the hearts and minds of their descendants. Seeing a pressing need to preserve these experiences, lifelong Madison resident Muriel Simms collected the stories of twenty-five African Americans whose families arrived, survived, and thrived here in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While some struggled to find work, housing, and acceptance, they describe a supportive and enterprising community that formed churches, businesses, and social clubs—and frequently came together in the face of adversity and conflict. A brief history of African American settlement in Madison begins the book to set the stage for the oral histories.