The Capitol Times Newspaper
Madison, WI

By Doug Moe
Saturday, November 29, 2005

Big News For Black Uw Alums

IT'S ALWAYS news when Rev. Ronald Myers, M.D., comes back to Madison, but he'll arrive next week with an especially ambitious agenda. Myers is scheduled to give a press conference Tuesday afternoon and then be the featured speaker and performer that evening at a Madison Jazz Reception at the Inn on the Park. He plans big announcements at each, including a proposed $10 million Wisconsin African-American Alumni Center in South Madison.

Myers, a 1985 UW Medical School graduate, has earned a national reputation as a crusader for social justice. People magazine profiled the then-48-year-old Myers in September 2004. Myers practices medicine in desperately poor areas of Mississippi -- "America's Third World," in Myers' terms.

Myers told the magazine he was inspired by a pastor in Madison to use his education to help the poor. That pastor, Myers told me Friday, was Rev. Joe Dawson of Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Myers had earlier met Mississippi voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who had told him he'd one day work with "her people" in the Delta. Myers visited and never left.

"When I first got there," he said, "I saw women who had never had a mammogram, who had tumors the size of a baseball. Of the first 200 breast exams I gave, six women had tumors. There was no way I could see that and just pack my bags and leave."

But Myers has never lost touch with Madison and currently serves as chairman of the UW-Madison's African-American Alumni Foundation.

On Tuesday at the Inn on the Park, Myers will announce -- in addition to the proposed African-American Alumni Center -- a University of Wisconsin African-American Alumni Reunion. Scheduled for July 20-23, 2006, it will include a concert honoring former UW-Madison Professor of Music Jimmy Cheatham and his wife, Jeannie Cheatham. Myers himself is an acclaimed musician, and there is a tribute to Cheatham, "Cheatham's Rap," on Myers' jazz CD "Doctor's Orders."

The July reunion will also include a talk by Dr. Ada M. Fisher, the first female African-American graduate of the UW Medical School. For more information on the events next week and in July, you can phone 217-9570...


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