The UW-Milwaukee African American Alumni Chapter (UWMAAA) and the Milwaukee Center for Leadership Development (MCLD) today announced that it has partnered to provide solutions for dealing with the low enrollment and the poor retention of African American students. Over the past few years, while UW- Milwaukee has seen a very slight increase in its enrollment of African American students, the numbers remain low. Moreover, the initial enrollment of the majority of these students is in remedial courses.
According to the UW-Milwaukee 2005 Fact Book, the total number of new freshmen was 6075 and 578 were African-American. Of the 578 freshmen (new and transferred), 361 or 62% were enrolled in the Academic Opportunity Center (AOC) which provides remedial instruction for incoming students. While studies have shown that a mere 24% of African Americans graduate from college each year, they also state that it is far less likely that completion will occur for students who must enroll in remedial courses. At this past spring 2011 UW-Milwaukee graduation, only 46 undergraduate degrees were conferred for African-Americans which amounts to an 8% graduation rate.
The UWMAAA and the MCLD are committed to providing college preparatory courses, social and academic, in an effort to increase the number of African American students going to and graduating on time from college. “A lack of preparation and retention are at the core of the problem,” says Tamiko Jordan-Obregon, the executive director of the MCLD and UW-Milwaukee alumnae. “Our young people are not succeeding in college because they are unprepared academically and socially.”
The UWMAAA will begin offering tutoring and support services this coming fall semester. “We had to modify our mission,” says Peter Robinson, President of the UWMAAA, “to appropriately serve the future generation. Typically, alumni associations engage in “friendraising” in support of the university; however, it is clear to us that we need to concentrate our efforts first, on retention or we will have fewer alumni to engage.”
The MCLD is based on the youth development model of the CLD of Indianapolis which has established a 34 year track record of empowering African American youth to excel in academics, life and their careers. By providing a variety of youth development programs, the MCLD is positioning itself to become a premier force in college access.
The partnership of the UWMAAA and the MCLD will include combined programming, support services and fundraising events. The goal is to simply prepare African American students for success in college and in life by providing experiences that help students develop personally and strengthen their academic ability.
Both Peter Robinson and Tamiko Jordan-Obregon are alumni of UW-Milwaukee. “Together, we are demonstrating a commitment not only to our alma mater, but more importantly to the young African Americans who seem to have lost hope or who simply want to succeed, but have no idea how to achieve their dreams,” says Tamiko. Peter agrees that “this partnership is about bridging the gap between higher education and secondary education. Our young people are coming on to campus totally unprepared. UW- Milwaukee is a great school, right here in the heart of the city. More students need to take advantage of it and we will do all we can to make sure they are prepared to succeed as they do so.”
Florida nonprofit uses spirituality to take on “fear of water” prevalent inblack community
(BLACK PR WIRE) ORLANDO, FL (JULY 27, 2011) – Summer is here, and as pool and beach trips surge, black children remain the most likely group to have fatal swimming accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the drowning rate of African-American children is three times that of white children. That fact is likely due to the 70% of black children that cannot swim, and the even higher percentage that are not proficient in the water. Aimed at reducing these numbers, Camp LifeSavers (CLS), a Florida nonprofit, is taking on the challenge to teach anxious black children to be at home in the water through – however unlikely – spiritual training.
“The Earth is 70% water; our bodies are 70% water; water is clearly meant to be a vital part of our lives,” shared Shunda Wilkin, president and CEO of Camp LifeSavers. “Blacks have such a long history of being fearful of water and never learning to swim that generation after generation grows up with this fear implanted in their heads. My goal is to stop the cycle enabling our people to connect with water as they should.”
Founded in 2009, Camp LifeSavers operates the “I Can Swim” program designed to introduce water safety and swimming habits in a safe, encouraging environment. To date, the program, coupled with Wilkin’s for-profit Sunny Days Swim School, has graduated more than 550 students, including an American Red Cross Water Safety Certified Instructor now working with her. Wilkin personally developed a unique lesson plan with components both in and out of the water to ease timid students of all ages into comfortable water experiences. An empathic Christian, Wilkin uses spiritual tie-ins, allowing God to do a “new thing” in her students.
“Water is the realm of God in our world, just as the air we breathe and ground we walk on,” continued Wilkin. “My desire is to help others learn to replace the fear of water with respect for water so they can learn to love to swim.”
Bible scriptures and stories are used throughout her detailed lesson plans with passages like “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power” providing inspiration for her traditionally fearful pupils to find peace while swimming. With her all her lesson plans compiled and easily understandable, Wilkin intends to eventually have instructors across the U.S. teaching her distinctive approach to swim lessons in the next few years.
“I’ve heard every excuse in the world, from ‘I don’t know what to do with my hair’ to ‘blacks have no business in the water!’” she exclaimed. “How much longer will we put our children at risk of death before we do something about it? God has laid it on my heart to meet this challenge, and I intend to erase this epidemic of fear so we can have fun and enjoy the water safely as we are supposed to.”
Camp Lifesavers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with a goal to reduce the percentage of black people that cannot swim to less than 10%. If you are interested in supporting the CLS cause, or getting involved in your community, please contact Shunda Wilkin at (407) 694-6168, or visit the Camp LifeSavers website at www.camplifesavers.com.
NEW YORK, July 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — BLACK ENTERPRISE leads its seventh annual report on the Best Companies for Diversitywith July’s cover feature, “Black & Gay in Corporate America.” Written by Editor-at-Large Carolyn M. Brown, the editorial takes an unflinching look at the cultural and professional obstacles facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) African American professionals and how a growing number are coming out and breaking through isolation and fear within their companies.
“We’re not going to pretend this was an easy topic for BLACK ENTERPRISE to consider. The LGBT community is one that our society still whispers about, mocks, ignores, and in extreme cases, vehemently rejects,” says Careers/Lifestyle Editorial Director Sonia Alleyne. “For black members of this community, the emotional backlash can be even more intense. Due to the topic’s controversial nature, we had some difficulty finding subjects. Even some of those who participated felt trepidation about how revealing their sexual orientation would affect relationships with family, friends, and associates.”
The story also delves into the fear factor concerning coming out to employers. Racial discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by a number of federal and state laws, but gay rights activists say anxiety around denied promotions, dismissal, discrimination, and harassment for being gay is all too real since there’s no federal law that protects LGBT individuals on the job except in the federal workplace.
“Being a double minority, you choose what you present. I could hide being gay, I definitely couldn’t hide being black,” says cover subject Sabin D. Blake, a dealer organizational manager for General Motors Corp. (GM). Blake, 34, kept his sexual orientation hidden for years while navigating the professional obstacles of being African American and gay. Once keeping the secret became too disheartening, he made the decision to gradually reveal his sexual orientation to fellow GM employees and business associates. Each time he told someone he was gay it became easier. “It allowed me to be more productive, more creative, and more innovative at work,” he says. Blake attributes his level of comfort to GM’s workplace and the high visibility of gay senior-level executives and straight allies.
“Many professionals are out in their community but private in the world. They don’t desire to open themselves up to public scrutiny,” saysSharon J. Lettman-Hicks, executive director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition. “There’s a healthy black, educated, LGBT professional class in this country but there’s no recognition of their existence. There’s no protection for their rights—for silent or overt discrimination. Black people in general treat the existence of gay, lesbian and transgender people in the African American community like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ the former U.S. policy governing homosexuality in the military.”
“That code of silence is the reason why BLACK ENTERPRISE singled out those companies within our ’40 Best,’ according to the Human Rights Campaign, that have implemented policy to ensure that LGBT professionals are protected from additional discrimination and gain access to opportunities for advancement,” continued Editorial Director Sonia Alleyne. “It signifies that these firms believe in the power of full inclusion.”
The July issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine is on newsstands now through Sunday, August 14. In addition, visitwww.blackenterprise.com/blacklgbt for expanded editorial highlighting the struggles and successes of the black LGBT community in the workplace and beyond, including Black and LGBT in the Black Church; Being Black & Transgendered; Gay Rights vs. Civil Rights;Homophobia in Sports: The Other Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; Gender Identity & Sexuality Discrimination in the Office; 49 Milestones in LGBT History; LGBT Trailblazers – Still Black & Proud; and Black LGBT Entertainers: Out & Proud
BLACK ENTERPRISE, your ultimate source for wealth creation, is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970, BE has provided essential business information and advice to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers. Every month, BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine provides four million readers with information on entrepreneurship, careers, and financial management. As multimedia company, BE produces television programming, business and lifestyle events, Web content and digital media. BLACK ENTERPRISE is the definitive source of information for and about African American business markets and leaders, and the authority on black business news and trends.
By his own example and his advocacy, Vincent Toran has left a legacy to Milwaukee’s skilled trades’ community. Toran is the first documented African American construction apprentice in Wisconsin. Sponsored by an instructor and a Milwaukee Vocational and Adult School counselor, he entered the union trades in 1948—37 years after Wisconsin became the first state to write a law for apprenticeships.
When Milwaukee became a national pilot for the Labor Education Advancement Program (LEAP), a federally funded initiative whose mission was to recruit, train and place more minority and female candidates in better-paying skilled jobs, then deputy director of the Milwaukee Urban League, Elmer Anderson, immediately pegged Toran for the job. For the next 20 years or so, under LEAP and eventually a new program called Big Step (Building and Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program), Toran gathered, nurtured, taught and mentored workers, opening doors in the skilled trades that were previously closed for minorities and women.
Born in Iowa, Toran moved to Milwaukee as a young boy and eventually completed carpentry courses at Milwaukee Vocational and Adult School (later MATC). He completed an apprenticeship through the Milwaukee Area Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee until he took the job with LEAP.
Though he was a first, Toran is quick to point out that his job never came without his being the victim of discrimination. He had the talent, the skills and the credentials, but he still encountered racism. That said, his reputation, determination and tenacity eventually knocked down barriers for those he helped and those who came behind him.
Toran is now retired, but his legacy lives on and recently more than 150 came out to pay tribute to and show their appreciation to Toran as part of a fundraiser for an apprenticeship preparation lab named in his honor.
Mildred English Parrish wasn’t very tall in stature, but she had big ideas and made her presence felt throughout the Milwaukee community and beyond.
Married to Judge Clarence Parrish, she earned two bachelor degrees—one from North Carolina Central University and another from Marquette University. She also attended the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison.
The mother of two daughters—Sheila and Sharon—Parrish never walked in the shadow of her husband. She was co-owner with her husband of Ben-Hur Real Estate Company and Burial Assurance Company, co-founder/organizer of Squaws-Milwaukee chapter, and owner, editor, founder and publisher of Excellence Magazine, an international publication that promoted local Black businesses, education and historically Black colleges and universities.
And, as if she didn’t have enough to do as wife, mother, student, and entrepreneur, Parrish was very involved in civic and community organizations. She was past president Milwaukee Chapter of Links Inc; co-organizer of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.-Pi Upsilon Omega Chapter in Freeport, Grand Bahamas Islands-1987; past president Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc-Epsilon Kappa Omega; Jack & Jill of America Inc – Milwaukee Chapter; first African-American member of Alverno College Board of Trustees; past president Wisconsin Court and Civic Women; board member Marquette University Business Department board; co-founder of Clarence and Mildred Parrish Christmas fund for needy families; board member Milwaukee YWCA; member Calvary Baptist Church; active with Milwaukee Chapter NAACP; college scholarships in the name of Clarence & Mildred Parrish-Milwaukee Foundation, Omega Psi Phi-Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin Law School-Madison, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc-Pi Upsilon Omega Chapter-Freeport Grand Bahamas Islands.
Though no longer with us, Parrish’s enthusiasm and passion for volunteerism and making a difference in the community are legendary. She left a legacy of service that continues through her daughters.
by Leon Todd
Afro Fest 2011 at the Washington Park Band Shell is the place to be this weekend, July 23-24, to experience a weekend of free family fun, community culture and the traditional array of African and Soul Food to delight your pallet.
Unity, Family and Culture will be emphasized at Washington Park when Afro Fest makes its triumphant annual return. The event is free to the public and all are welcome to this family oriented gala. Enter the Band Shell Grounds off Lloyd Street, just west of 49th Street.
There will be a traditional African opening ceremony; a basketball tournament between the Milwaukee area law enforcement agencies, the fire department and the Afro Fest All-Stars; children’s activities, a Civil War reenactment, an African Marketplace, food and “Sermon In the Park” on Sunday, which will include praise dancing and preaching.
Using a grass roots approach to community organizing and involvement, with an emphasis on African Culture, the theme of Afro Fest is organized to inspire unity, family and cooperation in festival-goers.
Michael Brox, founder of the original Afro Fest said in an interview Tuesday that the goal of the community festival once again is to break the cycle of self-hate and despair among our people and have us look upon each other as family in an atmosphere of self-love and respect.
Brox was joined by several members of the Afro Fest committee who are in charge of various aspects of the festival: Bunny Lambert heads the dry goods vendors committee, Malcolm Hunt, a former Milwaukee Police officer, is in charge of security and entertainment; chef and caterer Greg “Gumbo Man” Johnson, is responsible for a delicious festival Gumbo spread and Leon Todd has coordinated media and public relations for the festival.
Hunt, who once again stressed the importance of bringing the community and churches together to deal with many of the community’s problems, feels this festival can be a launching pad in that effort of community unity for peace, positive parenting and employment.
“Instead of drug dealers talking to youth, we need lawyers, doctors and more professional business adults reaching out to our children,” he said. Not only does he want the festival to create a “synergy of unity in the community,” Brox, a retired MPS teacher, added the festival is also a “young people’s event.” Brox wants young people to be involved in running the event while making a positive contribution for the community.
Lambert has spoken up in the past that another reason to hold the festival in a community park was to make its residents “look at each other as family. Blacks in the community need to acknowledge one another and embrace one another.”
Lambert has also stressed the need for more mentorship by elder men and women in the community. “It would be a great way to let youth know there is a way out.”
The organizers retain their strategic goal for the festival which they hope serves as a catalyst for the construction of a African Community Center built by African Americans in the heart of the African American community that will have a state-of-the-art auditorium, business offices and a recording studio. Let’s make it happened, Lambert reiterated.
Brox and the festival’s organizers are excited about the activities slated for the event and ask you to check out the slate of events programmed around the Washington Park Band Shell.
There will be an African Marketplace where vendors will be on hand to sell their wares, such as authentic African artifacts, clothing, jewelry and other items. A number of informational booths will be manned by representatives of community-based organizations, businesses, and professionals such as attorneys and those in the health care field.
The Washington Park band shell will be the festivals entertainment hub with various local acts participating. There will also be a children’s stage.
No festival is complete without food and there will be plenty of that at Afro Fest, thanks to caterer and food vendor committee. Sunday, July 24, starting at 12 noon will be the festival’s “Sermon In The Park” with a host of choirs from various city churches, soloists, praise dancing and preaching.
Brox and the committee stressed Afro Fest is a grass-roots community effort that is free and open to the public. “We’re aiming at a more family oriented festival.”
“Some people in the inner-city can’t afford the downtown festivals, which makes Afro Fest unique and more beneficial for all the people in the community to attend because it is free,” Brox said. “In some cases, a lot of older adults decide not to attend festivals or leave early because of all the activity that teenagers bring. Afro Fest is striving for a safe environment for all ages and making sure that there will always be something to do, whether its face painting or watching the basketball tournament,” Brox said.
Brox thanked the community for helping make Afro Fest possible with their volunteering and donations at various festival-sponsored events.
“Now it’s the business community’s turn to step-up to the plate” with donations and/or their participation, Brox stressed.
For more information about the festival, call Michael Brox at 414-748-1111. Those wishing to make donations to the festival can send them in care of: c/o Afro Fest Inc., P.O. Box 080071, Milwaukee, WI, 53208.
Bradford Beach, are you ready for the return of professional beach
volleyball? G1, Inc., IMG and USA Volleyball are proud to bring
professional beach volleyball back to Bradford Beach with the Jose
Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Tour’s Milwaukee Shootout on July 22nd, 23rd and 24th.
The Milwaukee Shootout is the launch of the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach
Volleyball tour with 2011 stops including Manhattan Beach, CA, Miami
Beach, FL and Hermosa Beach, CA. Sports marketing powerhouse
IMG and Bradford Beach promoter G1, Inc. are proud to work in unison
with USA Volleyball to bring a professional beach volleyball event
back to Bradford Beach and Milwaukee, a destination once immensely
popular on the pro beach volleyball tour in the 1980’s and 90’s.
The shootout will feature four men’s and four women’s professional
tandems competing for over $60,000 in prize money in a 2 day format.
Saturday’s program will feature a round robin pool play format
followed by semifinals and finals on Sunday. The professional
event will take place in a newly constructed stadium court and a side
feature court. The event is free to the public.
But that’s not all. In addition to the Jose Cuervo Pro Shootout,
G1, Inc has merged the annual BRADFORD BEACH JAM Sports and Reggae
Music festival to provide a festival like atmosphere all weekend at
the beach with amatuer sports tournaments for beach volleyball,
soccer and rugby. In addition, live reggae music will be at the
beach on Friday and Saturday featuring King Solomon, KoJo, RAS
Movement, Mount Zion Sound System and DJ Rick Jules. The live
music will take start at 3pm on Friday and Saturday.
Milwaukee Public Library Open Extra Hours During Current Heat Wave
Central and all branches to extend hours; Tippecanoe branch closed due to
lack of AC
Due to the extreme heat forecasted for the greater Milwaukee area this
week, and under the direction of Mayor Tom Barrett, all Milwaukee
Public Library (MPL) locations will extend their hours of operation
from Tuesday, July 19 through Friday, July 22.
MPL is already designated as a city “Cool Spot,” where people trying
to cope with the excessive heat can visit to cool off and relax.
The only exception is Tippecanoe branch library, 3912 S. Howell Ave.,
which is closed until further notice because of a broken
Extended hours for all 13 MPL locations are as follows:
Central Library downtown: 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily, July 19-22
All MPL neighborhood branches: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily, July 19-22
Library, 1960 W. Atkinson Ave.
2. Bay View Library, 2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
3. Capitol Library, 3969 N. 74th St.
4. Center Street Library, 2727 W. Fond du Lac Ave.
5. East Library, 1910 E. North Ave.
6. Forest Home Library, 1432 W. Forest Home Ave.
7. Martin Luther King Library, 310 W. Locust St.
8. Mill Road Library, 6431 N. 76th St.
9. Villard Avenue Library, 3310 W. Villard Ave.
10. Washington Park Library, 2121 N. Sherman Blvd.
11. Zablockli Library, 3501 W. Oklahoma Ave.
Tippecanoe Library closed until further notice due to an HVAC malfunction.
For more information on all MPL locations and hours of operation, go to
Growing up in Wisconsin, I have seen my share of snow. I believe we are prepared mentally and emotionally for snow in a way that others are not. We are undaunted when we open our front door and see that our cars are invisible because the snow is so high. We bundle up our kids without hesitation and send them into subzero weather as long as they have their coat, gloves, hat and a good scarf.
We clear the shelves of the supermarket, stack firewood, make sure that all of our phones are charged and we are fully prepared … sometimes joyfully accepting the possibility of being trapped by blizzards, gusting winds, sleet and snow too heavy to be shoveled by hand.
I have see Wisconsinites go out of their way to shovel for the elderly, push cars out of slick spots and throw sand and kitty litter to stabilize tires spinning without progress. In some ways, we are much kinder when it snows. We find ways to help the stranded motorist, provide shelter to the homeless and a jump to the person down the hall whose car battery gave up the ghost overnight.
Yet there is something about the heat that can change our very disposition. As soon as it gets hot, I have noticed that we get a bit grumpier. The rise in ill tempers coincides with the rise in temperatures. People who checked on snowed-in elderly during the winter may be too afraid of intruders to even open their windows to get fresh air during the summer.
Heat can make us tired, unable to focus and unwilling to hold unnecessary conversation as we run from air-conditioned space to air-conditioned space.
Heat will make us risk our hairstyles for a dip in a pool, be silly and run through a sprinkler or show our toes, flaws and all in an effort to stay cool. Heat makes us change our plans and leave early or work late after the sun has stopped it’s beating.
Yet in all of the heat, do we stop to realize that hell is even hotter than this? The truth of the matter: as hot as these days have been, we have no ability to truly conceptualize the depth of heat radiating through hell on any given day. Furthermore, I do not believe we have any real desire to have a firsthand encounter with hell.
None of us will have to find out firsthand if the expression “hot as hell” is accurate if we make a decision to accept the gift of salvation paid for on the cross by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The book of Matthew provides an excellent reference to the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of the Christ and if you have never been introduced to the Savior this book makes a wonderful introduction. This week, when you are hot and your children or grandchildren are near you complaining about how unbearable the heat is, gently remind yourself and them that you all haven’t even seen hot – and you don’t want to!
Wisconsin Northwest will host its 63rd Annual Holy Convocation Tuesday, August 2 through Saturday, August 6, 2011. Services will be held at Holy Cathedral COGIC, located at 2677 N. 40th Street. The theme for the convocation is: “Rediscovering God’s Holiness.” Bishop C.H. McClelland is Jurisdictional Prelate.
Annual Black Catholic Sacred Liturgy
The 14th Annual Black Catholic Sacred Liturgy will be held Sunday, August 7, at the Peck Pavilion (Marcus Center for the Performing Arts), 929 N. Water St. A musical prelude will take place at 9:30 a.m.; with Mass beginning at 10 a.m. Bishop Terry Steib, S.V.D-Memphis, TN will be the celebrant and homilist. The theme is “Listen! Someone is Calling Your Name.” Supported by a grant from Black & Indian Mission Office.
92nd Holy Convocation
Bishop Sedgwick Daniels and The Wisconsin First Jurisdiction will be hosting their 92nd Holy Convocation August 17-21, 2011. The theme: Pursuing Our Divine Calling Through Prayerful Strategies and Pentecostal Revelation.” Special Guest Speakers include: Bishop Noel Jones, Bishop George Bloomer and Dr. Jamal Bryant.
Daily Sessions will take place from 10 a.m. until 12noon with Simon Bailey, author of “Release Your Brilliance.” Evening worship will be held nightly at 7 p.m. at the Jurisdiction Headquarters, 3500 W. Mothers Daniels Way. Bishop Sedgwick Daniels is Jurisdictional Prelate and General Board Member. Bishop Charles E. Black is Presiding Bishop. Please call (414) 466-1800 for more information. Don’t miss this event.