Gene Parks is angry, Isthmus news editor Bill Lueders reports in his cover feature on Madison's embattled affirmative action officer. "All of a sudden, I'm the problem," Parks says. "Now they're censoring me down on the fourth floor, or trying to. They won't let me distribute what I just gave you." Parks refers to copies of two anonymous letters he has received. One bears an obscene cartoon with a scribbled dedication to Parks. The other reprints a photo of Parks with the typewritten caption, "I am Madison's official nigger and I am going to sue." The mayor's office prevented Parks from using its media folders to distribute the handout. Parks says this is typical of the way he is treated. "The system is trying to spit me out. No matter what I do, I have continuously been told... you are unwelcome. You are unwanted...because you're serious about change." Parks won't be intimidated. "I figure that if Nelson Mandela is willing to sit in somebody's jail for 20-some years, I'm certainly willing to risk my job if necessary.... What am I saying that's so unreasonable? That there should be a community for all of us? That justice should be given for everybody? That it's time to get tough with racist criminals? What am I doing that's so wrong other than fighting racism?" Ousted later in 1988, Parks sues the city, wins a six-figure settlement and is reassigned to supervise the city's sign-painting shop. An iconoclast to the end, Parks mounts a failed run for mayor in 1999 but remains outspoken until his death in 2005, at 57.