“We must be worthy of this symbol”: Madison unveils its first rainbow crosswalk | Multimedia







MADISON (WKOW) — Alders across the city have been pushing for a symbol of unity near the Capitol. On Thursday, their goal became a reality.

The colorful addition at the corner of State and Mifflin is more than a way to spruce up the crosswalk.

“It’s a symbol, but we have to be worthy of that symbol,” said Karin Wolf, arts program administrator for the city of Madison. “I hope it can inspire people when they see it to really experience it.”

Wolf was one of the people on the team to make this project a reality. In 2019, Alder alumni Lindsay Lemmer and Alder Patrick Heck approached the city with a plan to put up pride flags at different crosswalks in the city. Funding for each mural will come solely from community donations.

“The city has adopted this as a program because they want to signal that we are a welcoming and inclusive community,” Wolf said. “And so, it’s just a pilot, it’s the first and we could place them all over the community.”

Despite plans to spread their message, the mural’s sponsors and supporters secured a prime prime location. Mifflin and State is one of the city’s busiest crosswalks for foot traffic.

“I think everyone unanimously agreed that it should be near Capitol Square within sight of our capitol legislators,” said Kia Karlen, co-chair of the Friends of Madison Arts Commission.

The Alders, who sponsor the mural, and the Friends of Madison Arts Commission, one of the fundraising arms for the pilot crosswalk, wanted to send a very clear message – you are welcome here.

“State Street and Capitol Square attract visitors not just from Wisconsin, but from across the country and international visitors, so it’s wonderful to have a prime location,” Karlen said.

“As I walk into the Capitol for work, I hope my colleagues will think about this as they go to legislate and craft policy that helps all Wisconsin residents,” Rep. Francesca Hong (D) said.

Hong hopes this sends a message to Wisconsin residents everywhere that they should feel welcome to be the person they want to be and love the person they want to love.

“They are symbols of belonging,” Hong said. “And that’s really a sign for our young people. We want them to hope, we want them to dream and we want them to do it here.”

The flag painted on State Street is a progress pride flagwhich builds on the original gay pride flag by adding right-pointing chevron stripes – or the capital. LGBTQ Nation says the arrows symbolize forward movement.

“I think that means we’re fighting here to empower people to be who they want to be, to dream how they want, and to love whoever they want again,” Hong said.

If you would like to donate to the next rainbow crosswalk, visit the Madison Friends of the Arts Commission website.

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