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Proposal would rename Madison elementary school after late Black community leader

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A Madison elementary school may soon bear the name of a local Black community leader who died earlier this year.

In May, Madison lost Milele Chikasa Anana -- editor and publisher of Umoja magazine, Wisconsin's first Black school board member and champion of people, rights and prosperity.

"Her legacy is a very proud legacy," said longtime friend Richard Scott, Sr. "It's something that we wanted the community to be aware of and to be a part of it."

Scott says Miss Milele spent her life inspiring others, and it was important for that legacy to live on.

"We talked about a street sign. We talked about a park. We talked about a number of different things," he said.

Scott consulted with her daughter, Treater Prestine.

"For her, education was really, really important," Prestine said.

They came up with an idea -- a school.

"No hesitation at all," Prestine said. "Absolutely a great way to honor my mom."

It just so happened that a Madison school was looking for a new name.

"Two summers ago, we became aware of some research that had been done that had been commissioned by Chancellor Blank at UW-Madison looking into the KKK's presence at the university," said Adam Zingsheim, principal of Philip H. Falk Elementary.

Zingsheim says that research found Philip Falk -- a former Madison superintendent -- had also been a member of a KKK student group.

A committee was formed to look at the name of the school, and Miss Milele was the right choice.

"It became very apparent very early on that this was really a bullseye match to exactly the sort of person we were looking for in honoring with a new school name," Zingsheim said.

He says more than 300 people have already signed the proposal to change the name of the school, which the committee is planning to present to the school board on Monday.

While it's just a proposal for now, Prestine hopes any child who walks through a building bearing the name Milele Chikasa Anana will bear the values Miss Milele championed her whole life.

"That they are important, they are smart, intelligent and worthy of being talked about and contributing to their community," she said.

It could be months until a final approval, but if approved, this would be the second school in Madison this year to be renamed.

In January, the school board approved renaming Glendale Elementary School on the east side in honor of Dr. Virginia Henderson.

Henderson was the district's school psychologist for two decades and served as the special assistant to the superintendent for minority student achievement.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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