WAUSAU, Wis. — A standing-room-only crowd packed a drab courthouse meeting room one recent night and tried to resolve a thorny, yearlong debate over whether Marathon County should declare itself “a community for all.”
The lone Black member of the county board, Supervisor William Harris, stood up and begged his colleagues who opposed the resolution to change their minds.
“I want to feel like I’m a part of this community,’’ he said. “That’s what a lot of our residents are saying. We want to contribute to our community. We want to feel like a part of this community.”
But a fellow board member was just as passionate at the meeting on Thursday in arguing that acknowledging racial disparities is itself a form of racism.
with a population of 135,000 that is 91 percent white, couldn’t agree on what to say.
A year later, they still can’t.
95 percent of the nation’s ginseng. The county has long been competitive politically, swinging between Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama before twice backing Mr. Trump.
The 1970 census found Wausau had four Black residents and 76 people listed as “other,” out of a population of nearly 33,000. In 1976, local churches began welcoming the Hmong, refugees from Laos who had aided the American war effort there before fleeing when the United States left Vietnam. The Hmong now make up about 9 percent of Wausau’s population — second only to St. Paul, Minn., by percentage. A statue commemorating the Hmong-American military alliance stands outside the county courthouse.
Among those who proposed the resolution was Supervisor Yee Leng Xiong, the executive director of the Hmong American Center in Wausau.