Response to nominee requests magnificent!
The original nominations from the newspaper closed January 31st and on the web site February 15th. The response has been magnificent.
We are moved by the interest of young readers as they learn about history-builders of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. And, seasoned readers, who knew many of the icons of the past, have shared warm remembrances.
We have much of which to be proud! Nominees have given freely their time, money and families to make a difference in our community. We acknowledge their sacrifices.
By April 1, 2011, we will have arrived at the Top four (4) contenders for each category: Law; Medicine; Social/Civic Services; Education; Religion; Elected Officials; Arts/Music; Media; Business; and Legacy Builders (New faces in dynamic places). We will ask everyone to vote, again, from those choices.
The highest vote-getter becomes the Legend. The others will be honored with plaques, at the Gala, as well.
Every Nominee receives a Certificate of Nomination. The Gala will be long remembered.
Follow the paper, each week, as we learn more about the people you have nominated and the people who have already graced the MCJ pages.
You are Black History!
Mention the name “Mother Freedom” and everyone who has lived in Milwaukee for any length of time knows you’re referring to Claretta “Mother Freedom” Simpson, one of our legacies who has passed on, but who has left an indelible mark on this community’s history.
Simpson was born Nov. 29, 1901 in Smedes, Mississippi. Mother Freedom is truly deserving of her name, as she walked in major civil rights marches with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., fought for justice and continued the struggle for equal rights despite being jailed, hosed, and trampled by horses.
Along with her daughter Jeannetta Robinson, Simpson helped found CYD, a community-based organization that seeks to meet and respond to the desperate needs of the youth of this community especially those who have gone astray, gotten involved with youth gangs, juvenile delinquency, alcohol and drugs, school dropouts and truants, and illicit sex.
Founded in June of 1970, CYD was the first community-based alternative to the Juvenile Justice System in Milwaukee County. The organization started out in Ms. Simpson’s little home located on North 10th Street. Simpson and Robinson operated CYD for four years without seeking any funding. They did what they did out of love and using their own resources.
Today, the 40-year old agency occupies an entire block on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and provides such services as: Earn & Learn Summer and Year Round Youth Employment, Tiny Tots After School and Summer Youth Program, Adolescent Residential Care Center, CYD Food Pantry, Substance Abuse/Mental Health Outpatient Treatment Clinic, Adult Education/GED, First Time Homebuyers, and a Survivors of Homicide Support Group.
Simpson may have passed on, but her legacy and love remain a vital and vibrant beacon of hope for many of Milwaukee’s central city residents.
Willie Davis is known for tackling tough projects—on and off the field. Davis played in the Green Bay Packers’ first two Super Bowls in the 1960’s.
He made All-Pro five times during the Packer glory years. During his 12 year career, he never missed a game. That was just the beginning of Willie Davis’s path to success.
Davis took his place as one of the great defensive ends in pro football history.
He also took his place in the business community. Today, Davis owns radio stations in Milwaukee and California. As the product of a single family household, he said that one of his proudest moments was when he was able to let his mother retire so he could take care of her.
Davis grew up in rural Louisiana and graduated from Grambling State University. Always a hard worker, he earned a Master of Business Administration during the football off-season from the University of Chicago and went into business, succeeding first as president of West Coast Beverage Co., where he increased sales from $2 million to $39 million in 18 years, then in broadcasting, where, as president and owner of All Pro Broadcasting, he operates top-rated radio stations in California and Wisconsin.
Davis serves on the boards of numerous companies and philanthropic groups. Davis is one of few Blacks recruited to sit on corporate boards, including Johnson Controls, We Energies and Manpower.
President Ronald Reagan named him director of the 1984 Olympic Committee. He has been chairman of the Urban League and director of Junior Achievement. He also has lent his leadership skills to Marquette as a University Trustee.
Though he was a star on the football field and has earned wide respect in
the business community, Davis has never forgotten his roots.
He is known for his charitable giving and for spearheading numerous community initiatives—through the radio stations—and personally, that help those less fortunate. Indeed, he is a legend in his own time.
Annette Polly Williams
When she announced her retirement from the State Legislature in May of 20010 after serving for more than 30 years, former State Representative Annette Polly Williams had earned the distinction of being the longest serving woman in the history of the State of Wisconsin.
Williams is the author of the nation’s first alternative education choice legislation. She has lectured widely on school choice, at such prestigious institutions as Harvard, Yale, Marquette, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins University.
Her work on school choice has earned her multiple awards, including:
UW-Milwaukee Lifetime Achievement Award, UW-Milwaukee Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus, National Black Caucus of State Legislators President’s Award for Distinguished Service, and she was named as one of the New York Times Thirteen Innovators Who Changed Education in the 20th Century.
Williams stood out in the 1990s as a black Democratic politician who cast her vote with white Republicans in the Legislature, pushing a newfangled education reform called “school choice.”
This initiative allowed low-income students the same opportunities to attend private education institutions as more privileged students.
When Williams announced her retirement, she said that though she wanted to move on to the next phase of her life and spend more time with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, she would remain active in the community, particularly in areas related to education.
Williams is and has always been a David in a world of Goliaths, who was never afraid to stand up for her community and refused to be comprised by politics.
She has fought the good fight and deserves not only some rest, but a spot on the wall of fame among other Milwaukee legends.