Archives for April 2011
Pick ‘n Save and the Roundy’s Foundation recently donated more than $31,000 to Milwaukee area food pantries. The donation was part of Roundy’s Foundation’s “Focused on Feeding Families” tour, which donated a total of $225,000 in food and money to 50 food pantries in five days. Each pantry will receive approximately 3,000 pounds of food valued at $4,000, in addition to $500 to purchase perishable food items. The foundation does this two times a year.
Working families are visiting area food shelves in record numbers. In fact, last year visits to emergency food shelves jumped 14 percent. The photos above and at right are from a news conference held April 15 announcing the donation of more than $31,500 in food and money to seven local pantries. The area pantries helped by this year’s spring tour are: Ascension Lutheran Church Food Ministry, Cross Lutheran Church, Fishers of Men Outreach Ministry, Inc., Grace Bible Church of West Allis, Greater Philadelphia Church of God/Mother Melissa Nath’s Food Pantry, Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, and Sherman Park Community Ministries Food Pantry.
Question of the Week: “Monday, April 18, was the deadline for taxes. Were you prepared this year?”
Photos and question by Yvonne Kemp
David Skinner: “Yes (I did) and I don’t have to pay anything back.”
Willie McFarland: “Yes (I did) and I had to pay the IRS.”
Marva Green: “Yes (I did) and since I’ve reached retirement age, I get a little money back.”
Geneva Harris: “Yes (I did) and I’m always prepared. I get a refund every year, so I file early.”
by Mikel Kwaku Osei Holt
I’ve been all but awestruck with the barrage of Civil War documentaries dominating the media over the last two weeks.
Since April 12 marked the 150th anniversary of the attack on Fort Sumter–which historians mark as the official beginning of the Civil war—we have been inundated with articles and broadcasts commemorating that tragic—albeit defining chapter of American history.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looked at the role Wisconsinites played in the war, including the introduction of beer by German Americans involved in the fighting.
Regional and national newspapers focused on various aspects of the war, most highlighting how their native sons sacrificed and died for ‘The Cause,” which depending on which side you were on meant to hold the nation together and end the cruel practice of slavery or to fight off federal opposition to states’ rights, a simplistic way of saying local control and the independence of local property tax payers.
A thread that can be found through many the articles and broadcasts was that the Civil War also cemented bigotry, racism and prejudice as an American institution. Moreover, several of the commemoratives revealed that while the war freed ‘some’ of our ancestors from the whip, rape and murder, the shadow of slavery remains in place, clouding the minds of the ancestors of slaves.
That shadow manifests itself today in the form of Black self-hatred and an inferiority complex among a majority of Black Americans. Obviously, the shadow is so thick it is like a fog that blocks our vision, disallowing us from seeing the greatness that flows through our veins; our contributions on these shores and back in the Motherland where our ancestors invented math, science and the first college and medical school known to mankind.
Instead, our ancestors were brainwashed into believing their lives were ordained by God to be one of toil and servitude, with rewards coming in the afterlife. They were given selected and modified Biblical scriptures, and force-fed a daily dose from another southern holy book, the Willie Lynch Bible.
It’s no coincidence that those freed slaves who remained in the south after the war were left without the resources to farm or the education to fend for themselves. For the most part they were illiterate, and without a home.
The southern code and caste system quickly overwhelmed them, both in the South and–despite claims to the contrary–in the North, where thousands of freed slaves were greeted with hostility when they applied for jobs native Northerners and immigrants believed were theirs exclusively.
From that scenario evolved a system of permanent White privilege, a system that has been passed down from generation to generation.
That’s one of the untold stories of the Civil War, one that should be reexamined, along with the dozens of lies and distortions that have become a part of Americana.
While Africans have been on these shores since the beginning of the 17th century, it was decades later that the institution of racially grounded slavery took root. That fact was recognized in the declaration of independence and constitution, documents signed by slave owners who hypocritically talked about equal rights for all men. Under God no less.
Of course, slavery existed on every continent, but what made America’s version so hideous and unique was the unusual level of cruelty associated with it; barbaric savagery that was unlike any system in human history.
But I digress…
My near morbid preoccupation during the last two weeks with documentaries and articles about that defining chapter of American history leading up to and beyond the Civil War became even more intoxicating as I pieced together the various components that explain why America is no closer to exorcising the demon of racism. In an ironic twist of fate, the Civil War poisoned the minds of millions of Northerners who were at least empathetic to the plight of Africans, if not morally opposed to the institution of slavery.
Many of the articles and television programs I read and watched—appropriately starting on “April Fool’s Day”—cast light on the invisible herd of elephants in the room, some even touching on what can only be considered a grand conspiracy to rewrite American history, to downplay the role of slavery as the root cause of the war, and, I suspect, to cloud the fact that many Americans today still benefit from that “peculiar institution,” as it was appropriately described.
The conspiracy was (or is) facilitated by presidents and preachers, educators and elitists, historians and hypocrites to ease guilt and conscious, to mask the genocide of Native Americans and African captives, and to apparently trick God into believing the oppressors were following His biblical mandates.
That latter assessment may sound bizarre, but that’s only if you are ignorant of true American history.
(OK, for the misinformed, you need but know that to many Americans–slave owners, politicians and businessmen–slavery was condoned by their interpretation of the Bible. They believed, or wanted to believe, that we were the descendents of the cursed Children of Ham. They also subscribed to the notion that there is no opposition to slavery anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the Bible repeatedly tells slaves to obey and serve their ‘masters’.And maybe that’s not a theory worth debating.) Sorry, I’ve digressed again.
Anyway, a noted Black theologian wrote several years ago that Black people are wasting their time arguing against that biblical belief, and instead should view the conflict over slavery as abolitionist John Brown did—a moral fight over whether America should subscribe to the teachings of the Old Testament, or the New Covenant.
One of the most interesting articles about the Civil War was published in Time Magazine last week. It reinforced many of the same conclusions featured in a National Geographic series titled, ‘Civil Warriors’ and the PBS award winning series, ‘The Civil War.’
The three presentations each exposed the myth, or assumption, that Northerners, including many Wisconsinites, were supportive of emancipation, and were willing to fight to slavery.
In fact, Time Magazine’s brilliant cover story debunks long held myths that racism was endemic to the South. Not only were there many Northerners opposed to the war and blind to the plight of the Black slave/captives, but in fact thousands of freed Black and escaped slaves were murdered in a dozen northern cities to protest the Union Army conscription—or draft (which essentially only applied to the poor, as rich families could buy their way out of the draft).
Northern Democrats murdered and lynched free Africans and escaped slaves to express their support for the Confederacy and White superiority. Republicans, who at that time were the party of Lincoln, shed Black blood throughout the North prior to, during and after the war, often to protest war, or in some cases to discourage Africans from competing for scarce jobs.
Viewers of the two documentaries and the Time Magazine article didn’t have to read between the lines to conclude that racism, prejudice and false claims of genetic superiority were byproducts of the Civil War.
My two week sojourn through the Civil War commemoration was all the more intriguing because it reminded me that little of what was offered this month was remotely similar to what I had been taught in school.
And from what I understand, little has changed over the four decades.
That too was part of the conspiracy, to fertilize the seeds of Black inferiority and to downplay the entire country’s complicity in the resulting plight of Black America.
Moreover, to tell the truth about the causes and effects of the Civil War is to bring into question our interpretation of Christianity, White privilege and the roots of Black self-hatred. Study the Civil War and you may finally remove your own shackles.
The civil war was foretold by Brown a decade before the attack on Fort Sumter. Brown’s action on Harper’s Ferry was in response to U.S. Senator David R. Atchinson’s (D-Missouri) attack on Lawrence, Kansas in 1856.
Atchison’s slaughter of residents in that town was described as “the happiest day of (his) life.’ It was a signal to impress “the damned abolitionists; a Southern lesson that will be remembered until the day they die.”
In response, Brown initiated a holy crusade. His plan was to start a slave revolt and end the system of slavery with a “righteous sword.” It was, as I said, to force the “new Covenant” down the throats of racist Americans.
That may sound somewhat cavalier, but it is a theory many historians have embraced. If nothing else, Brown was a true believer in the U.S. Constitution and righteousness of his cause.
What Brown probably didn’t consider was how his actions would become a catalyst for a Confederate initiated revolt, an assault by the South not just on the North, but on the Bible and Constitution as well.
The fact that the colonel who captured Brown and his men at Harper’s Ferry was in fact commanding officer Robert L. Lee, a Union colonel at the time. Brown’s actions should have opened Lee’s eyes to a plot twist that would change America.
One of Lee’s first acts after surrendering in 1865 was to pen a book that not only justified the Confederate rebellion, vainly pushing the role of slavery in the conflict to the background.
Southerners could not win the moral debate. So during, and after the war they sought to confuse the issue, and simultaneously create a caste system to replace slavery.
They also appealed to the base instinct of the working class that they may not be equal economically to the rich plantation owners, but they were at least superior to Brown and Black people.
Many historians—ranging from so-called esteemed pundits James Randall, to U.B. Phillips later echoed that strategy, justifying slavery and calling it a “civilizing force for African captives.” What was never taught to us in elementary, middle or high school was how they were aided and abetted in that grand conspiracy by U.S. presidents from George Washington to Woodrow Wilson, himself a historian who according to Time Magazine described the Ku Klux Klan as “an empire of the South created by men roused by a mere instance of self preservation.”
Most public schools still don’t mention that slaves built New York, (which was a slave auction headquarters), the White House (which last I heard was in Washington, D.C.), or that the institution of slavery wasn’t abolished in Connecticut until 13 years before the civil war.
While swept under the carpet, no one can deny that slavery benefited the North as much as the South.
Nor can you ignore that the conflict between North and South was predestined as slave owners and many in the industrial North sought to expand “slave territory to the pioneer western territories.”
You can understand the influence of the conspiracy when you scrutinize the other root causes of the “other Civil War,” the one waged in Texas.
Most Americans idolize the heroic actions of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Travis. What they ignore is the fact that the intent of those so-called revolutionaries’ was not to usurp a tyrannical Mexican governor, but instead to expand slavery into the west.
All three of those ‘heroes’ were slave owners, and they opposed the Mexican government’s policy against slavery.
The history course we were provided even lied about the Emancipation Proclamation, which was actually first introduced by a Union general in 1862 but originally “rejected” by President Lincoln. In truth, that executive order (it was not a law), only freed Southern slaves. Their Northern brethren were still held in bondage.
There are even questions about Lincoln’s true motivations. Lincoln, like Thomas Jefferson and several other “founding fathers” believed “Negroes” to be inferior, which is a separate question from whether they should be freed.
Most historians say Lincoln, who admitted that he would allow slavery to continue if it would save the Union, only freed the southern slaves as a military and psychological ploy.
Our school history texts also didn’t tell us that many Union soldiers mutinied when they heard of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Several generals, including George McClellan, General-in-Chief of the Union Army, who ran against Lincoln when he sought re-election in 1864, rebelled against the president.
McClellan, according to Time Magazine, asked: “How could slavery be the cause of the war when so many in blue had no interest in emancipation.’
Of course there were many true abolitionists in the Union Army, including General Robert Millroy, who eagerly put the proclamation into action, not only freeing slaves but providing them with escorts to the North where, sadly, many found a less than warm greeting.
There were also untold thousands of abolitionists and supporters of freed slaves in the North, including Wisconsin.
And there were thousands of true supporters of human rights who served in the military and fought for Black freedom and equal rights, like Abby Horper Gibbons, one of the nation’s first nurses.
At age 59, she left her family to nurse Union soldiers, and fight for Black emancipation.
She even challenged prejudicial and racist Union soldiers who mistreated “Negroes” in and out of the army.
But when you read about Gibbons, you’ll also discover that her home was put on fire and her daughters’ lives threatened by angry New Yorkers during a riot against the draft in which hundreds of Black people were murdered in the streets.
Such is the dichotomy of the Civil War. If you really want to figure out why we are where we are today, take time to really study American history. Let the Civil War be your catalyst. Who knows, you may just come to the conclusion that the war continues to this day.
Compiled by MCJ Staff
The Milwaukee NAACP has asked the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to delay finalizing the county’s new district map so citizens have a chance to get involved in the important process of redistricting.
In a letter sent to every county board supervisor, the local NAACP branch expressed serious concerns about the current redistricting proposal, as it manages to simultaneously dilute the African American vote and harden Milwaukee’s segregation.
The organization also expressed dismay with a decision by the Milwaukee County Redistricting Committee to conduct the redistricting process “in such a rushed and opaque manner” less than one month after the county received the 2010 U.S. Census data pertaining to the county.
County residents would have less than six days to review the proposed map before the committee and the county board vote on it. The deadline for redistricting is late May. The board reportedly may take up the proposal at its next meeting this week Thursday.
“If this is the outcome, it will be without dispute that the actions of the county board will have diametrically opposed the public interest,” the letter states.
The letter goes on to urge the board to take every step necessary to encourage substantive citizens an opportunity to review the proposal and generate their own proposals.
This includes taking advantage of the 60-day period afforded by the state to develop a redistricting map that abides by the Voting Rights Act, retains minority representation that is proportional to county population and bolsters the diversity contained in the district maps.
“There is absolutely no justifiable reason for rushing through this very important process.”
The NAACP also expressed concerns about the proposal itself, saying it contains one less majority African American district than the current map and lacks diversity.
“Out of the 18 proposed district,” the letter states, “11 districts feature a racial majority of over 70% while only one district features a racial majority that is less than 55%. Amazingly, fully one-third (six) of the proposed districts feature a racial majority of over 80%. These are all White majorities.”
The civil rights organization noted more diversified districts would give different constituencies more of an opportunity to work together to further the cause of their district and county.
“Given our county’s significant issues in the areas of poverty, segregation and other qualities of life, as well as Milwaukee County’s long-term fiscal conundrum, it is critically important that you take great care when doing something as important as redistricting.”
Called Black Milwaukee’s “Visual Griot,” noted photographer Harry Kemp has been taking photos of the city’s Black community for over 50 years for various local and national publications, capturing our peoples rich history, unique culture and rich traditions on film.
Harry has aimed his camera lens at countless historic events, social functions, political gatherings, entertainment performances, educational lectures, forums and sporting events and legends.
He’s also captured more personal moments for prosperity for individuals and families such as weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties and funerals. A native of Racine, Wisconsin, Harry received his first camera at the age of 12. However, he didn’t seriously pursue photography until after a stint in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1950s. Harry’s first photography job was with the old Milwaukee Star newspaper. He’s also taken pictures for the Milwaukee Courier, Milwaukee Community Journal and Milwaukee Times.
Harry also taught photography for Milwaukee Public Schools from 1972 to 1974 at North Division, Hamilton and South Division high schools.
Evelyn Patricia Terry is not starving artist. She is a brilliant artist who has parlayed her talent into a lucrative career.
Her works have been displayed locally, nationally and internationally. She has artwork in more than 400 private, public and corporate collections, in addition to the collections of the Haggerty Museum at Marquette University and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
After earning a master of science degree from the School of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Terry went on to earn a master of fine arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). As a full time professional artist, writer, educator, and curator, Terry works diligently to help establish historically disenfranchised artists. Her artwork, transforming a variety of themes into various bodies of work over more than 35 years, has been collected internationally with a concentration of private patrons and corporations in the Midwest.
In 1998, Terry completed a commission for the Midwest Convention Center as part of the John and Murphy Burke permanent collection. Other awards during the past 10 years include the Milwaukee Individual Artist Fellowship and the Intermedia Arts/McKnight Interdisciplinary Fellowship.
In 1999, Terry ventured into the field of public art with an award from the Spirit of Milwaukee Neighborhood Millennium Art Initiative to transform an existing Milwaukee County bus shelter into a functional work of art. And, In 2000, she was awarded a commission to create 12 sculptures for Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport, which were installed near the elevators on each level in the new parking structure during the airport expansion project in 2002.
Today Terry maintains a studio at Milwaukee’s Lincoln Center for the Arts as she continues to break down barriers and build a prestigious career doing what she is most passionate about—capturing life in art form.
Milwaukee has always been proud that one of its own—Al Jarreau—has achieved such international acclaim as a singer and songwriter. Born in Milwaukee in 1940, Jarreau is the only vocalist in music history to receive Grammy awards in three separate categories (jazz, pop and R&B).
He has recorded more than two dozen albums over more than three decades.
Jarreau’s father was a minister so Al got his start singing in the church choir at the age of four. He attended Lincoln High School and later graduated from Wisconsin’s Ripon College with a degree in psychology.
During his college years Jarreau performed locally with a group called The Indigos on weekends. After earning his Master’s Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation from the University of Iowa, Jarreau moved to San Francisco where he worked briefly as a social worker.
There, his desire to sing persisted, and he found himself performing at a small jazz club with a trio headed by George Duke.
Jarreau moved to Los Angeles and began playing in small clubs on the West Coast, and later branched out to New York City where he gained national television exposure by crooning with Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin. His first album, 1965, was released that year.
After a 10-year break from recording, Jarreau returned to the studio to produce We Got By and over the next two decades, he released almost an album each year.
In 1977, he performed in his first world tour and won his first American Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. In 1985, Al Jarreau Live In London, recorded at Wembley Arena, helped cement his reputation as a world-class master of both studio and stage. Breakin’ Away won two more Grammy’s with awards for Best Male Pop Vocalist and Best Male Jazz Vocalist.
Now in his 70s, Jarreau has had some health issues, but continues to perform worldwide. His smooth and easy sound and stellar successes make Milwaukeeans proud of the legacy of its native son.
by Troy Sparks
At Clinton Rose Park in Milwaukee’s inner city behind the left field softball fence, you will see a monument of a famous Negro Leaguer who played for the Milwaukee Bears.
He was on the 1923 team, the only year there was a Negro League team here.
If you read the plaque and look seven lines down in the second paragraph, you will know that this famous Negro League player was Joseph Preston “Pete” Hill.
But here’s the problem: That is the wrong name on the plaque, which was dedicated in August 2008. The Milwaukee Historical Society failed to pay attention to detail, or they didn’t bother to double check to see if that was the right name on the plaque. The correct name, according to Ron Hill, of Pittsburgh, PA, should be John Preston “Pete” Hill.
“I called the Historical Society, and the first thing they said was, ‘We don’t know how we can change it because we don’t have any money,’ ” said Ron Hill by phone.
Ron Hill probably has never been to Milwaukee. With the help of some family members, he did research and found that John Preston “Pete” Hill was his great uncle.
When it was discovered that John Preston “Pete” Hill’s first name was wrong, Ron Hill got on the phone to try to correct the error.
“At first, the people at the Historical Society were acting kind of stupid, saying, ‘We don’t know where we’re gonna get this money at and blah, blah, blah.’ So I said, ‘Forget about it.’ ”
He made a call to Journal-Sentinel reporter Don Walker, who reported on his blog about the error on the plaque. Hill called Tyler Barnes, the Brewers’ Vice President of Communications and contacted the office of the Milwaukee Community Journal newspaper. Someone from the Brewers office returned Hill’s call, assuring him that if he “gives us a chance, we’ll correct that.”
So who dropped the ball, the Brewers or the Historical Society? I’ll call the kettle black by blaming the Historical Society, since they were responsible for the inscription of every word that went on that plaque.
Look at the other historical markers in our city. I believe that all the information on those markers is correct.
Said Hill, “My only thing was, then why would you have a plaque of a great baseball player that people see all the time?”
There’s no picture on the plaque, but the Historical Society could have added one of John Preston “Pete” Hill so people could see what he looked like. I would think that on an important historical marker, there would be a picture with the text.
Why was the plaque placed at Clinton Rose field? It was near the place where the Bears played their games. Some people were lucky enough to see John Preston “Pete” Hill play the outfield and manage the Bears at Athletic Field (later renamed Borchert Field), which was located a few blocks west between N. 7th and 8th and W. Chambers Sts.
Did Dennis Biddle know about the error on the plaque? If he didn’t before, and if he reads this story, he will know now. Since Biddle is one of the remaining living Negro League legends who live here, he should check it out. After all, he was known as the man who beat the man who beat the man.
By the way, I contacted Barnes by e-mail, and he said that the correction will be made. Hill hopes that the revision will be made and presented on the field before the Brewers’ Negro League Tribute Game on Saturday, July 9, against the Cincinnati Reds. Barnes said that the revision and presentation won’t be tied to that game.
The same mistake was made at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The name Joseph Preston “Pete” Hill was also on that plaque. When the error was addressed, the Hall of Fame immediately corrected it.
John Preston “Pete” Hill was born in Virginia in 1882. Some say that he was born in Pittsburgh, but he wasn’t. In 1899, at age 17, Preston “Pete” Hill began his baseball career with the Pittsburgh Keystones. He later played with the Philadelphia Giants, Lelend Giants, Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, Milwaukee On three of the teams Preston “Pete” Hill played for, he was their best player.
John Preston Hill adopted the name “Pete” to avoid confusion with an infielder with the same name. He was called one of the most consistent hitters of all time and once hit safely in over 110 straight games.
As Preston “Pete” Hill’s career was winding down, he became a player/manager with the Stars and the Bears. The Bears had trouble scheduling games at Borchert Field because the minor league Milwaukee Brewers had first dibs to the field.
A losing record, money problems, small crowds and lack of newspaper coverage resulted in the Bears splitting up before the end of the 1923 season. He retired from baseball in 1925.
John Preston “Pete” Hill was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006 by the Negro Leagues Committee. Ron Hill wants his great uncle, who died in 1951 at age 69, to have a place in our hearts here.
“I want the black folks and white folks from Milwaukee to know who that man was because it’s good for our black humans to see that this man is in the Hall of Fame,” said Ron Hill.
César Estrada Chávez (March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was an American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW).
A Mexican American, Chávez became the best known Latino civil rights activist, and was strongly promoted by the American labor movement eager to enroll Hispanic members. His public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the late 1970s, his tactics had forced growers to recognize the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida. However, by the mid-1980s membership in the UFW had dwindled to around 15,000.
Chavez was charismatic: a self-taught rhetorical genius, he created commitment by inspiring well educated Latino idealists with undiscovered organizing potential and encouraged them to offer a liberating, self-abnegating devotion to the farmworkers’ movement. Claiming as his models Emiliano Zapata, Gandhi, Nehru, and Martin Luther King, he called on his people to “Make a solemn promise: to enjoy our rightful part of the riches of this land, to throw off the yoke of being considered as agricultural implements or slaves. We are free men and we demand justice.”
After his death he became a major historical icon for the Latino community, and for liberals generally, symbolizing militant support for workers and for Hispanic power based on grass roots
organizing and his slogan “Sí, se puede” (Spanish for “Yes, it is possible” or, roughly, “Yes, it can be done”). His supporters say his work led to numerous
Improvements for union laborers. His birthday has become César Chávez Day, a state holiday in eight US states. Many parks, cultural centers, libraries, schools, and streets have been named in his honor in cities across the United States.
ATLANTA —Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will join Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Dr. Christine King Farris, Dr. King’s sister; and Martin Luther King III to celebrate the completed renovation of Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Heritage Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall on Friday, April 15.
The church, where Dr. King served as pastor, was a focal point of the civil rights movement and is now part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site, managed by the department’s National Park Service.
The Heritage Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall will be open to public for the first time since 2007 when they were closed for a major restoration project to restore them to their 1960’s appearance.
Prior to the 1pm celebration at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Secretary Salazar will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at 12pm at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Tomb.