Andre Lee Ellis, an activist, community leader, and theatre director, and Rose Daitsman, a lifelong advocate for many human rights issues, have been named the 2016 recipients of the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award.
Mr. Ellis and Ms. Daitsman will each be presented with the Zeidler award during a special ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 20 in the third floor Council Chamber Anteroom (prior to the start of the regular meeting of the Common Council) at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St.
“The Committee’s decision recognizes these two outstanding leaders from different segments of our community, who share the common vision of empowering young people to overcome special obstacles in our society. Their positive examples and inspiring messages are things that our city needs to honor and grow,” said Arthur Heitzer, chair of the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award Selection Committee.
Mr. Ellis has worked diligently to improve the lives of young African American males, while also investing in and improving the community, Mr. Heitzer said.
Mr. Heitzer continued: “Mr. Ellis’s creative and hands-on work to improve the lives of young African American men and boys on the north side has won well-deserved local and national recognition, including his appearance earlier this year on the Steve Harvey show and being named a ‘Harvey’s Hero.’ Every Saturday morning, young people, and their mentors, can be seen at 9th & Ring Streets, beautifying the area with a community garden.”
Mr. Heitzer added: “Their involvement has also decreased violence, and inspired many young men to work positively for their neighborhood while breaking negative cycles and committing themselves to high and realistic goals. His leadership in the ‘We Got This’ movement shows what caring and listening people can do in some of the most challenged situations in our city.”
About Ms. Daitsman, Mr. Heitzer said: “Rose Daitsman has truly been an indefatigable, lifelong advocate for many human rights issues, including gender, racial and economic equality. An activist for peace for many decades, she lives and breathes the understanding that we can only have a secure peace if it is based on justice.”
Alderman Robert J. Bauman, vice-chair of the award selection committee, said Mr. Ellis and Ms. Daitsman are role models who have worked to make Milwaukee a better city. “Andre Lee Ellis exemplifies what an engaged activist and mentor looks like – putting forth his own energy and vision for improving the lives of others in our city and doing it for the pure joy of watching others prosper, of seeing the betterment of total strangers,” he said.
“Over the years Ms. Daitsman has selflessly pursued causes that are of great import to our city, looking to bring human rights and social justice issues such as human trafficking and equal rights to the fore, and keeping her energy and focus strong for an extended period of years. Her work is worthy of recognition for any number of reasons,” Alderman Bauman said.
June M. Perry, a member of the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award Selection Committee, said Mr. Ellis “is someone who takes action when he sees a need in the community.”
“He saw young African American boys who didn’t know what it meant to get dressed to go out to dinner…and he did something about it….the 500 Black Tuxedos project that brought together men and boys who were all dressed in tuxedos to go out to dinner,” Ms. Perry said.
“He saw boys who wanted to work but had no jobs so he created ‘We Got This’ to pay them $20 for showing up on time on Saturday mornings to plant and grow vegetables in a community garden. He is a role model, mentor, activist and father figure to many who look to him for guidance and advice. Andre is saving lives and helping boys become responsible men. I wish we could clone him!” Ms. Perry said.
Mr. Ellis moved to the Borchert Field neighborhood in 2011 and instantly began questioning the negative behavior he witnessed there. He took his interest a step further when he asked the young African American men he engaged with how he could help and what assistance they needed. His four decades of experience in theatre has helped him build relationships with the young members of his community and initiate programs that directly impact them and the community in which they live.
In the summer of 2014 Mr. Ellis started the nationally-recognized and aforementioned “We Got This,” campaign. It began when one 12-year-old boy asked Ellis for advice on how to stay out of trouble. He responded by putting him to work and paying him $20 in exchange for the boy’s improved behavior. Mr. Ellis’s idea grew, and now “We Got This” sponsors nearly 100 boys every Saturday to clean up their neighborhood. Ellis uses social media to find black men to help pay each boy $20.
That same summer Mr. Ellis founded another program to empower young African American men in Milwaukee. His “500 Black Tuxedos” event invites black men to sponsor boys in renting a black tuxedo for a day on the town. In the first year, 50 boys and 50 men participated, and under his leadership, the program continues to grow both locally and nationally.
Mr. Ellis has dedicated his life to “putting ‘neighbor’ back into our ‘hoods’” and has served as a positive influence to many. He also helped establish Milwaukee’s Juneteenth pageant as well as Garfield Avenue Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Arts Festival. He previously worked with Jomandi Productions, an African American theatre company in Atlanta, Georgia, before moving back to Milwaukee, where he was born and raised.
Rose Daitsman has been a resilient, lifelong advocate for many human rights issues, including gender, racial and economic equality. When Ms. Daitsman notices inequalities, she aims to correct them through working with existing organizations, or creating coalitions to unite around that particular issue.
With a background in Chemical Engineering, Ms. Daitsman has been a longtime proponent of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. She personally developed an engineering program for minority students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as well as a Peace Studies curriculum for Milwaukee Public Schools. Mr. Heitzer noted that “one of her special and unique contributions was promoting the involvement of Native American Indian students in the fields of science and engineering.”
In 2006, Ms. Daitsman created the Greater Milwaukee Human Rights Coalition, which soon after produced a report in 2007, titled: “The Status of Racial Discrimination in Criminal Justice, Employment and Housing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” She assembled 10 endorsing organizations and 20 individuals to help research and publish this 30-page report, which was later submitted to the U.S. Human Rights Network and the U.N.’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Committee. This report then led to her involvement in the revitalization of the city’s Equal Rights Commission, which was reinstated in 2009.
Ms. Daitsman has been nationally recognized for her dedication and advocacy. She was also instrumental in forming the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee. Now 90-years-old, Ms. Daitsman leads the Milwaukee branch of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). She earned her B.A. in Chemical Engineering from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art and her M.A. in Educational Research from Xavier University.
Alderman Cavalier Johnson, along with Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton and Mayor Tom Barrett unveil a new program intended to help address the achievements gap by making books available to kids at their neighborhood barbershop.
“Wisconsin is, sadly, home to the largest achievement gap in the nation between black students and white students,” Alderman Johnson said. “Making books available in a familiar venue like the barbershop sends the message that you don’t have to read scholarly articles to improve your reading comprehension. You can read mystery novels, sports stories or comic books, as long as you’re reading something.”
The program is a partnership with the Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee Public Schools, Sharp Literacy and Northcott Neighborhood House, utilizing participants in Northcott’s programs to build bookshelves that will be installed in barbershops throughout the city.
Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs is again seeking properties in the 6th Aldermanic District which deserve special recognition for outstanding garden or landscaping efforts, and invites residents to nominate a neighbor or themselves for a property that has been well-landscaped or is especially eye-catching.
Alderwoman Coggs is committed to consistently supporting and encouraging the beautification and improvement of neighborhoods. The landscape award is a part of Alderwoman Coggs’s Clean City Project.
“Property owners who consistently work hard to keep their properties looking great help make our district a beautiful place to live, and they deserve recognition,” Alderwoman Coggs said. “When a neighborhood has that visual beauty and appeal, I believe it helps to boost the quality of life for residents.”
Nominees’ names and addresses can be emailed to [email protected] for consideration. Supporting digital photos are also recommended.
Nominations are due by the close of business on Monday, September 26.
Alderwoman Coggs said she will announce landscape award winners at the next 6th District Town Hall meeting, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28 at Siloah Lutheran School, 3730 N. 21st St.
By Russ Feingold, candidate for U.S. Senate
I’ve always been a firm believer that if you want to represent the people of Wisconsin, then you have to actually get out and listen to them. You can’t simply give big speeches or go on cable TV and declare that you have the solutions. If you’re not listening to people right here, you don’t truly understand the priorities and concerns that families have for the future.
My belief was only reaffirmed in the wake of last weekend’s shooting and the ensuing unrest. We should remember that this strife is directly linked to the fact that people do not feel that their leaders adequately hear them, their concerns, and their hopes for the future. Too many politicians fail to realize the very real institutional barriers of racism facing our communities and too many refuse to seriously consider how to address these barriers and their economic symptoms going forward.
So when I kicked off this campaign, I listened to as many people as possible. And whether it was sitting down with seniors at Clinton Rose or visiting with Andre Lee Ellis and other volunteers for a community garden cleanup, over and over I’ve heard the same thing: people tell me that they want to live in safe, thriving neighborhoods. They want an economy that works for them – not just for those who are already well off. They want to be able to pay the bills, send their kids to a good school, and plan for a secure retirement without having to worry that it could all fall apart in a moment’s notice.
People tell me that even though those at the top are doing well, in too many of our communities, families are still struggling to get ahead.
They’re tired of Washington politicians like Sen. Johnson simply ignoring our communities. Instead of listening to the people they’re supposed to represent, they go off to Washington and work to protect a system that only benefits corporate CEOs and Sen. Johnson’s fellow multi-millionaires who don’t care at all if our communities have the jobs, schools, and resources they need to thrive and compete.
In fact, Sen. Johnson has proven that he’s more concerned with protecting Donald Trump’s bank account than he is with investing in the working families of Milwaukee.
That’s simply unacceptable. Milwaukeeans deserve leaders who will put their needs first. Sen. Johnson has refused to do so. Since heading off to Washington as a part of the Tea Party wave, he’s completely abandoned the working families that serve as the backbone of this community. On the issues that matter most, Sen. Johnson has consistently sided with the corporate CEOs at the expense of our friends and neighbors.
I believe that Milwaukee’s families deserve a raise. That’s why I’m proud to support the fight to increase the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour. If you work hard and have a full-time job, you shouldn’t be forced to live in poverty. Sen. Johnson simply disagrees. In fact his position is so extreme, that he doesn’t even believe there should be a federal minimum wage at all. If he had it his way, big corporations could pay absurdly low wages to our workers without regard to the families who depend on them to put food on the table.
But Sen. Johnson’s concern is not with Milwaukee’s families – it’s with the profit margins of the powerful corporations. He’s spent years in Washington protecting corporate loopholes while the same corporations turn around and ship more and more Wisconsin jobs overseas. And he’s voted for every bad trade deal to cross his desk while in the Senate. He even voted to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership – the latest bad deal that would see even more Wisconsin jobs lost to countries like China.
We’ve seen too many jobs in Milwaukee disappear, too many once flourishing neighborhoods blighted, and too many hardworking Wisconsinites unable to get ahead while the corporations grow bigger and reap record profits. We simply can’t afford another six years of Sen. Johnson’s corporate handouts.
Instead of handouts to big business, I think the best way to get our communities back on track is to actually invest in our young Wisconsinites. After all, they’re the ones who will buy the new homes and start the small businesses that will drive our economy.
But one of the things I’ve heard more than anything else is that for too many families, the promise of a brighter future for their kids is dimmed by the increasing burden of paying for a good education. In 2014, 70% of Wisconsin students carried loan debt. Of those students, the average burden was some $28,000. This is staggering, and it’s only made more burdensome by Washington politicians like Sen. Johnson who won’t let these students refinance their loan debt.
Sen. Johnson is so extreme, that he calls federal student loans “free money” and doesn’t even believe there should be any federal student loans at all.
Sen. Johnson is not only out of touch on this issue, but he’s actually making it harder for our young people to succeed. We should be expanding opportunities for young people in this city – not limiting them. That’s why I want to let students refinance their loan debt just like you can a mortgage. Higher education and a path to a more comfortable life shouldn’t just be for the rich. Parents in Sherman Park should be just as confident as those anywhere in the country that their kids will have greater opportunities in life.
That’s what this election is about. Sen. Johnson has spent years in Washington looking out for the richest Americans and the powerful CEOs who only care about their own bottom line. Our campaign will always be about the middle class and working families who have suffered because of his disastrous record. These families tell me that they want leaders who will listen to and fight for them. If I’m lucky enough to earn your vote this November, that’s exactly what I’ll do in the U.S. Senate..
“True faith stands up for the oppressed and the broken.”
Christian hip hop artist Lecrae has often been vocal about standing up for black lives on social media and beyond. And in the days since the police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the Grammy-award winning musician has once again used his social media presence to talk about systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter movement
“True faith stands up for the oppressed and the broken…” he wrote in a post. “Christians saying that ‘preaching the gospel is all we need’ ignores how sin affects infrastructures and societal systems.
“If you ever trusted in anything I’ve said, if you’ve used my words to stir your hope or joy, then trust that same voice now,” he continued. “This is an epidemic that school books or church services haven’t taught you.”
Read the full post below.
Earlier in the week, the musician also tweeted that the freedom America celebrates on July 4 doesn’t apply to everyone. The tweet quickly went viral.
In an op-ed about race relations he later wrote for Billboard, he explained his reasoning: “I posted a picture of slaves in a cotton field instead because that was the vantage point of my ancestors on July 4, 1776. They weren’t free.”
The rapper, whose fan base reportedly includes many white evangelical Christians, wrote in the Billboard piece that many of his supporters were upset by that tweet. When Lecrae talks about race on social media, he often gets pushback from fans who claim he’s teaching a divisive message that is causing more racial tension. The comments in his posts are often littered with sentiments like “The race card needs to go, and Christ needs to be at the center,” or “How is saying that all lives matter selfish and rude?”
But, the rapper wrote, “There’s a difference between creating division and exposing the division that’s being ignored.”
For Lecrae, understanding begins with humility and with listening to voices you may not agree with. It takes humility, he writes, to hear another person’s vantage point and life story.
“A lot of times, when you don’t have to deal with some of the circumstances that affect minority culture, you just don’t think they exist. This is a conversation I have with lots of my white friends all the time,” he wrote. “When I share my experiences with them, they’re like, ‘Oh. Really?’”
Statistics show that there is a difference in the way white and minority Protestants perceive police brutality towards black lives. According to a 2015 study conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, 57 percent of white evangelical Protestants believed the killings of black men by police in Ferguson, New York and Baltimore were “isolated incidents.” In contrast, 70 percent of minority Protestants ― including black, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islanders, and mixed-race Protestants ― agreed that these deaths are part of a broader problem and a pattern of injustice towards African Americans.
From his advocacy online, it’s clear that regardless of the opinions of his critics, Lecrae is intent on doing his part to close this gap in understanding.
“This is a moral issue across the board for humanity,” he wrote in the Billboard op-ed. “If you subscribe to any moral code that says you should care for humanity, obviously black people will fit into that category. So why would you not advocate for justice and truth unless you have something to lose?”
Previous Editions Found Here
The City of Milwaukee Youth Council has recommended the allocation of $138,755 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to six agencies that will use the money for initiatives ranging from leadership development, expungement services and job skills training, to reducing crime and preparing Milwaukee youths for their futures.
The allocations were recommended following agency presentations that took place Monday, June 20, 2016 during a regular meeting of the Youth Council at City Hall. During that meeting, agencies presented details about their proposals and answered questions posed by Youth Council members.
The funding recommendations will now go to the Common Council’s Community & Economic Development Committee and later to the full Council for a final vote.
The recommendations were:
- $30,000 to the Center for Self Sufficiency to fund a summer mentorship program focused on personal development through experimental learning and healthy relationships education.
- $33,755 to Clean Slate to provide legal expungement services that can open the door for new opportunities.
- $25,000 to Grateful Girls, Inc. to educate and empower young women through internships with local businesses.
- $15,000 to Riverworks Development Corp. to hire youth ambassadors from the 53212 ZIP code to improve the safety, cleanliness and attractiveness of commercial corridors.
- $15,000 to Running Rebels, Inc. to provide leadership training during out-of-school and summer time programs.
- $20,000 to Wisconsin Community Services, Inc. to provide career counseling and job training to youth at risk of becoming involved with gangs and to former gang members.
Follow the Youth Council on Twitter @mkeyouthcouncil or via the MYC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mkeyouthcouncil/.
Thursday, May 19, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI Safe & Sound, the Department of Neighborhood Services Youth Council at Carmen High School of Science and Technology, Milwaukee Police Department, representatives and community members gathered at 1929 S. 6th Street for an Artistic Mural Project Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony. The project of the Safe & Sound Youth Council @ Carmen is a visible demonstration of how youth hope to build up their community through acts of service. This year’s theme is Helping Yourself Involves Helping Others!
The mural project is carried over from a successful “artistic board-up” effort developed by Safe & Sound last year to identify a blighted and vacant property for the students to beautify. Working with students, the site was surveyed using a CPTED protocol (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) with help from the District Two Community Prosecution Unit team including a Safe & Sound CPU Coordinator, DNS and Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) representatives who identified ways to improve safety on the property. After the site was assessed, youth council members painted murals that were placed over broken windows on the blighted property. The murals represent “serving others”, “leadership,” and “higher education.”
The public reveal at the ribbon-cutting ceremony included remarks by
Safe & Sound Youth Organizer Daniela Orozco along with Captain Heather Wurth of MPD District Two, Stephanie Samarripa of Milwaukee DNS and Youth Council President M.J. Orozco.
“We’ve been seeing lots of news about the challenges of vacant properties to the health of neighborhoods. This property is on a main road and by doing an artistic mural project, the youth council students are sending a message to the neighborhood that young people want a safe and vibrant community,” shares Orozco who organizes the youth council for Carmen.
Earlier this year, she had contacted Carmen and asked to facilitate a Safe & Sound Youth Council which currently has nine members, including her sister M.J. who serves as the president. The council is voluntary and focuses on service projects related to healthy neighborhoods and safety.
The elder Orozco is herself a graduate of Carmen and
dedicated her extracurricular education and career to her
community. She now works at Safe & Sound as a youth organizerSand leads the group in performing community service at her alma mater.
Youth council prepares project location through a CPTED survey conducted by Safe & Sound, DNS and MPD.
Ribbon cutting included participants from Carmen H.S. youth council, Safe & Sound, Alderman Perez, Deparment of Neighborhood Services and Milwaukee Police Department. Daniela and M.J. Orozco, respectively, at far left.
Safe & Sound Youth Council painting murals for project to beautify blighted neighborhood home.
Carmen students with the Safe & Sound Youth Council, including M.J. Orozco to far right, show off one higher education themed mural.
As for her sister who will graduate from Carmen this year, she has also caught the community service bug and attends the regular meetings, project events and other Safe & Sound community activities. “We want what is best for our neighborhood and this is one way to help by making it look nice.”
Mayor Tom Barrett will be featuring the project in his upcoming Anti-Grafitti Spring Kick-off Press Conference on May 26, 2016 at the City Hall Rotunda, 200 E. Wells St. beginning at 10:00 a.m. which is open to the public. The Orozco sisters will each be speaking during the program, in their respective capacity, along with Alderman Jose Perez of District 12 where the project takes place.
“Raising up a community is lifelong and can be paid forward,” the Daniela Orozco believes. Both sisters are proud of the project and hope that the artistic mural project influences peers and neighbors to be active in their community.
For more information contact: Daniela Orozco, Safe & Sound, Inc. at (414) 308-4772 or Stephanie Samarripa, City of Milwaukee- DNS at (414) 286-3319
About Safe & Sound:
We unite residents, youth, law enforcement and community resources to build safe and empowered neighborhoods. Targeting neighborhoods with high levels of crime and poverty, Safe & Sound Neighborhood Safety Teams work together with residents and community resources to improve safety through 1) cultivating partnerships with law enforcement, 2) organizing residents and 3) nurturing positive youth development. Bridging these connections helps grow collective efficacy that is essential to improving community safety. For more information, please visit safesound.org