My nerves ease a bit seconds before I start an interview for a story. I’ll glance over my notes and prewritten questions then jump right in.  When conducting the interview in person, typically a firm eye-to-eye handshake gives me confidence, too. 

But not in times of COVID-19. A video call will have to do. 

My online interview with Madison’s new Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins was rare. The screen-to-screen conversation wasn’t a barrier to my abilities to pick up on his unwavering compassion for students, families and the community. His glass-half-full attitude is refreshing. And his vision for leaving no child behind is commendable.

I was conversing with history. Dr. Jenkins is the first Black leader of Madison schools. In fact, he’s the first person of color in the role. He surrounds himself with an exceptional team who stressed that the superintendent gained the position on his own merits.

One cannot ignore the fact, however, that despite generations of closed doors, Dr. Jenkins is living proof that diligence, discipline and perseverance can unlock opportunities.

Read more about Dr. Jenkins’ life and his return to Madison.

This Back to School issue offers tips for child safety online while stuck at home during this novel coronavirus pandemic and what college students in Madison should expect this school year.

Our Black Lives Matter coverage continues as UMOJA talks to M. Adams, cofounder of Freedom Inc. She works tirelessly on the frontlines of the fight against racial injustice. We also provide the history of the raised fist and ask what the powerful symbol means in today’s civil rights movement.

Check out how innovative community organizations became when hosting events such as the Gospel Run, Black Restaurant Week and the Urban League’s Unity Picnic.

Finally, hats off to all of our teachers and parents in these unprecedented times. The usual day-to-day rhythms are gone. It’s going to take practicing patience and kindness to get through. Please know we all have your backs, as our thoughts and support are with each and every one of you.