7th Annual Unity Picnic Brings Out Over 600

Dr. Ruben L. Anthony Jr, CEO & President of the Urban League of Greater Madison (far right), thanks Darren Price, co-owner of BP Smokehouse, and Kipp Thomas, owner of Kipp’s Catering, for their mouth-watering BBQ meals.

The Urban League of Greater Madison’s 7th Annual Unity Picnic served as a breath of fresh air for many seeking fun and community bonding, following months of physical and social isolation from pandemic mandated cocoons.

Held July 24, the annual Urban League event serves to bridge barriers between people of different backgrounds. This year, those who were hungry got fed. Those in need of employment were connected to companies hiring. And those seeking COVID-19 vaccines, got a shot in the arm.

“Village” elders, community partners and residents from across Dane County, lined up to receive lip-smacking barbecue, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese through a makeshift drive-thru along the Urban League’s parking lot. President and CEO Dr. Ruben L. Anthony Jr., along with his wife, Wanda, and various member of the Urban Leagues’ Board of Directors waved and greeted those passing through the picnic in their vehicles.

All of the food, packed in to-go containers, was provided by BP Smokehouse and Kipp’s Catering. Pepsi donated beverages. The Saturday afternoon event, beneath a blistering summer sky, catered to over 600 for free on the city’s South Side. 

Meanwhile, those seeking career opportunities had a chance to interview face-to-face with prospective companies including Amazon, the Madison Metropolitan School District, Target, SSM Health, Frank Productions, and others.

Additionally, SSM Health provided onsite COVID-19 vaccines. Anthony said it’s important for his organization to provide the life-saving shots because in Black and Brown communities, the stakes are incredibly high because this sector of the population suffer higher rates of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19.

Dedicated volunteers helped make the annual event run like a well-oiled machine.

The annual Unity Picnic has become a staple. The inaugural event began in 2015 as a chance for Madisonians to meet Anthony, who was newly hired to lead the civil rights organization.

Here are some photos from the day’s successful event.