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Why Wisconsin: Beloit

Written by Martinique Lewis, @marty_sandiego on February 1, 2022.

My love for all things Black history started early. I was born and raised in Oakland, California which has deep roots in the Black community, I was raised in the AME church which is very big on Black history and education, and many of my relatives, including me and my Dad, attended historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs). My Dad attended Wilberforce, which is in Ohio, and was the first Black-owned and operated HBCU. Being that he currently resides in the midwest I decided to invite him with me on my trip to Wisconsin. As we landed in Chicago and made the short 90-minute ride to Beloit, Wisconsin, we weren’t sure what to expect.

We pulled up to the beautiful Hotel Goodwin and I can’t lie, I felt a little nervous, two Black people from out of town arriving late at night, would we be seen as a threat? ​​As we walked into the hotel two other couples were there and greeted us with warm smiles. They were on their way up to the cutting edge Rooftop Restaurant and they held open the doors for us. As we walked past, one person said, “Have a good night.” My Dad and I let out a sigh of relief. We felt instantly welcomed and were ready to explore.

We were introduced to so many things in Beloit. I loved learning about the black population’s migration there through the Fairbanks franchise and hearing more about the area demographics. Growing up as a family we watched the same movies over and over and I have to admit my favorite piece of trivia learned was that Indiana Jones was inspired by Roy Chapman Andrews, who is from Beloit. My sister and I probably watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom over a thousand times, my Dad probably still has the VHS somewhere.

I also learned about an award winning young, gifted and African-American artist named Isaic Pulliam whose work was displayed and praised at the Beloit Art Center. Hearing the story about the evolution of his passion and how the community still supports his journey to this day made me honored to get to experience his work. His art show features images of black people and I was surprised this type of exhibit was given to feature his beautiful paintings. To me, this is proof that Beloit is committed to diversity in their city.

Artwork by Isaic Pulliam

We also had a chance to visit the Wright Museum at Beloit College. There is a painting called ‘’Station’’ by Billy Morrow Jackson that drew me in instantly. So much so that I still think about it, WHEW , If that painting could talk. It would definitely say ‘’come see me for yourself’’, no spoilers here.

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