Veterans Program Funding, African American History Competition, The Golden Age Of Comedy

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Between Netflix stand-up specials, sketch comedy shows, and late night TV, there’s no shortage of places to get a laugh. We talk to a guest who thinks it all adds up to making today the golden age of comedy. A State Representative also joins us to talk about why she’s asking the state to allocate more funds to veteran’s programs. Plus, hear about the Wisconsin students who competed in a national quiz bowl on African American history.

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  • Madison Team Takes First At National African-American History Challenge Bowl

    Some of Madison’s sharpest history students aren’t even old enough to drive.

    They’re a group of students from Madison’s Wright Middle School, who won first place at the 2017 National African-American History Challenge Bowl last month.

    “We were nervous,” said Jaden Wynn, an eighth-grade member of the team. “We were just studying and studying … When we won, we felt pretty good about it.”

    Madison teams aren’t new to the quiz bowl scene. Over the 19 years that Madison teams have entered the competition, sponsored by the 100 Black Men of America organization, they have won five times and placed as runner-up four or five times, said Enis Ragland, founding president of 100 Black Men of Madison.

    “It’s a credit to our school system, and our students and our parents,” Ragland said. “We are known as one of the powerhouses in the organization for the national history challenge bowl.”

    The competition is set up as a traditional college quiz bowl, in which competitors can press a buzzer to answer a question. Answer wrong, and lose points.

    Ragland said it gets competitive. And with nearly 400 years of African-American history to study, the subject matter is no small task.

    Students prepare by studying once a week for months on end.

    The Wright Middle School team first qualified through a local competition against the 11 other Madison-area middle schools. Any interested student is welcome to join each school’s team.

    The competition began two decades ago as a way to increase academic involvement among black youth and increase confidence, Ragland said.

    “We feel it’s important that everyone understands and learns our culture as well,” he said.

    Wynn was pulled onto his team by his social studies teacher, who noticed his passion for history, he said. Originally, he was set to be an alternate for the team.

    But with a last-minute lineup change, “I had to step up my game,” Wynn said. “Everything turned out well, as you probably know.”

    Wynn said he has especially enjoyed learning about segregation in the 1950s, as well as migrations and movements among African-Americans.

    And, set to enter high school this fall, he said he’ll be going in with even more confidence.

    “After winning, not many things make me as nervous anymore,” he said. “Normally I’d be super nervous talking on the radio, but being in front of all those people, really studying and just not wanting to fail, it really makes you less nervous about other things.”

  • Democratic Lawmakers Request Emergency Funding For Veterans Programs

    With a budget bill nowhere in sight, four state lawmakers sent a letter to Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Secretary Dan Zimmerman last week requesting funds be released to assist the state’s struggling veterans programs.

    “We want immediate action on investing in our veterans, so we requested that the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs file a 13.10 request with the committee on finance,” said state Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, one of the authors of the letter. “What that does is essentially allows us to release the funds immediately, which we believe is not only necessary, but urgent.”

    According to The Capital Times, a May audit of the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King in Waupaca County found the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs transferred millions of dollars away from the home, while the facility remained understaffed and in need of improvements.

    Shankland said the audit shows serious issues at the home that require urgent improvement.

    “There has been questionable drinking water … there have been moldy walls, stained floors, potentially unsafe equipment,” she said. “We believe that when it comes to the water supply, the electrical substation replacement, and just the capital improvements that are needed at King, we need to release those dollars right now, and that comes about to $12 million to make some improvements at King. And we think there should be even more than that.”

    Shankland said she hopes the letter will get people talking more broadly about veterans programs. She said next year, two of the state’s three veterans homes will no longer house homeless veterans.

    She hopes lawmakers can reconvene publicly to discuss the issues as they wait for a new budget bill.

    Her three colleagues who co-authored the letter are also Democrats, but she said she hopes this can be a bipartisan issue.

    “Everybody’s waiting for the budget to pass. Why don’t we meet to discuss veterans? Let’s make that our next first vote,” she said. “Why don’t we make sure our homeless veterans have a place to go?”

  • State Lawmakers Call On Wisconsin Department Of Veterans Affairs To Release More Money For Programs

    Four state lawmakers sent a letter to Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Secretary Dan Zimmerman requested funds be released to bolster veterans programs. We speak with Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) about the letter.

  • Madison Teams Are A Force To Be Reckoned With At National African-American History Challenge Bowl

    Each year, the national 100 Black Men organization hosts the African-American History Bowl Challenge, and Madison is often the team to beat. We talk with an organizer and one of the students who brought back the first-place trophy this year about their experiences.

  • Are We Living In A Golden Age For Comedy?

    It seems like comedians have risen to a new level of popularity in recent years. With massive social media followings and countless Netflix specials, we talk to a comic who interviews other comedians about today’s comedy boom and the influence it has on people.

Episode Credits

  • Judith Siers-Poisson Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Haleema Shah Producer
  • Jaden Wynn Guest
  • Enis Ragland Guest
  • Katrina Shankland Guest
  • Tim Barnes Guest

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