Archives for October 2011
by Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr.
With an affable, easy-going style, a ready smile, gregarious sense of humor and a ready opinion on the issues of the day—whether it be the state of Black Milwaukee, politics, even sports—noted photographer Harry Kemp was more than just a “guy who took pictures.”
No, to Milwaukee’s Black community Harry was our Griot.
With his always present camera Harry put into pictures what the African Griots did with words and memory: Record the births, celebrations big and small, tributes, marriages, sporting events, children playing, community forums and meetings on critical issues, political campaigns from aldermanic to presidential.
Harry photographed festivals and block parties, parades, protest demonstrations, social gatherings, church functions, funerals (but not many of those; it didn’t fit Harry’s personality, which was always upbeat and positive) the arts, fashion shows, beauty pageants (among Harry’s “favorite” assignments—even if he wasn’t assigned them), sporting events, entertainers and celebrities, concerts, the well-known and the unknown.
In other words, Harry “recorded” life, our lives, the life of a people and a community he loved with all his heart. That love came through in the black and white, color images hard copy and later digital images we and other Black and Latino newspapers he worked for printed on its pages.
I use Harry’s first name after first reference because his relationship to me—first as a reporter and later editor (and defacto photo editor) and the staff of the Community Journal, as well as others who knew, worked with, admired and loved him is too personal, too long and too impactful on me and this newspaper to simply refer to him by his last name, the required journalistic rule when referring to a subject after first using their whole name to introduce them in the story.
To know Harry was to know him as a friend, mentor, father-figure, uncle, brother and an elder, which is a powerful title and position he carried with great modesty, but was so richly deserved
I’m also using first person in writing this obituary because Harry’s death hit me harder than I expected. Like most Black Milwaukeeans who probably first heard publically of his passing Friday morning, September 29 on radio station 1290 WMCS’s “Morning Magazine Show” with Eric Vonn.
My wife and I did a simultaneous “what” when Eric announced the news. According to his sister Yvonne, (who for the last 13 years has been his business partner, apprentice, secretary, photo cataloger, assignment taker, chauffer, guardian and confidant), Harry died in his sleep early Thursday morning. He was 78.
I had seen Harry only three days before his passing. For the last few weeks of his life when his sister Yvonne Kemp’s schedule made it impossible for her to pick him up and bring him to the office, I’d hop in my car and pick-up Harry, who would be waiting for me at one of his favorite haunts.
Once back at the office, I’d get his photos and information of the events he took and drop him off at one of his “hangouts” before he went to cover a Brewers game or other event.
Several months earlier, Harry had suffered a stroke. Fortunately there was no permanent paralysis. After rigorous rehabilitation, Harry went back to photographing our community, albeit a little slower. But he was still Harry. Still gregarious and willing to share his knowledge and ideas with who ever was lucky enough to come in contact with him.
Though he was walking and talking fine after the stroke, I just didn’t like the idea of him traversing across town on bus and then on foot to get to the MCJ’s offices—which are located in a neighborhood I can only describe as “challenging,” even for someone younger and healtier.
To and from the office, as well as between looking at photos he took at an event, we would talk about a wide range of topics. As I had done for the 20-plus years I’ve known and worked with Harry, I’d hang on every kernel of wisdom he shared, absorbing it for future reference and use in my life.
Yvonne believes Harry went to the Brewers game and took photographs of them clinching the home-field advantage for the division playoffs by defeating the Florida Marlins Wednesday evening at Miller Park.
“He must have left the ballpark and celebrated at either Mykanos (an eastside restaurant) or Victors (a nearby bar), both his favorite places to hang out,” Yvonne theorized Monday at the MCJ where she came to take care of some affairs for Harry between fulfilling her own photographic assignments and making arrangements for Harry’s funeral, which would be private and for family only on Thursday, October 6.
“Harry probably stayed till closing and went home. He must have sat down in his chair, emptied his pockets and took a nap…and never woke up. That’s where I found him. I thought he was asleep.”
Yvonne had gone to Harry’s East side apartment concerned that she had not heard from him about attending the festivities celebrating the Brewers’ division championship.
During his recovery, Yvonne added another title to her resume: Caretaker, a title and duty she took on with love and affection for her brother.
“I worked with Harry for the last 13 years. I learned a lot, especially about the community, political officials, and community activists,” Yvonne said.
“During that time I came to realize how much he loved what he was doing; and he passed that love to me. I can’t fill his shoes, but I’m going to do the best that I can do.
“I hope I can make my brother proud by trying to do as good a job as he did. I’m going to miss my brother.”
Born in Racine to Marie Gaines, herself a community legend who helped give charm and grace to many young girls—a number of whom grew up to be community and business leaders themselves, Harry grew up in Milwaukee where he received his first camera at age 12: A Brownie.
Reportedly, Harry studied journalism while in Texas and studied photography. Harry served in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s. After the service, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service and Internal Revenue Service.
Harry was also active in the community. Reuben Harpole, another community icon who knew Harry since he was 16-years-old, noted that Harry was one of the key members of Triple O (Organization Of Organizations) along with Larry Harwell, a former key aide to former State Rep. Polly Williams.
“Triple O worked to correct a lot of problems in Milwaukee’s public schools before he took his first 50,000 photos,” Reuben said, adding Harry’s photos are “our history, a living history of the African American community.”
Though quiet, Harry—according to Reuben—was a tremendous listener. “He had this tremendous capacity to listen and he had good common sense. Whatever he said was meaningful. He was knowledgable. He knew our community and everyone in the community.”
Harry’s first job with the Black press was with the old Milwaukee Star newspaper, owned by Jerrel Jones and Robert (Bob) Thomas.
“He had a concrete personality. Once it’s set it’s there. He wasn’t wishy-washy,” said Mr. Thomas (as I address him), now associate publisher of the Community Journal. He knew Harry for 50 years.
“Like the (Frank) Sinatra song, Harry did it ‘his way.’ He was on his feet doing what he loved until the end,” Mr. Thomas continued. “God has received a great soul.”
Community Journal Publisher Patricia O’Flynn Pattillo, who knew Harry for over 30 years, called him the consummate “iconic” Gordon Parks “always viewing the world, critiquing it transferring his vision to the pages of the Community Journal and other outlets. He loved life!
“Harry was the ‘pulse’ of the community. He asked questions, culled opinions and used his camera to portray his observations,” Mrs. Pattillo (hey, she’s the boss) said in a statement. “Harry knew what he had taken, why he had taken it and what the ultimate outcome would be when readers got the newspaper and saw his photographs.”
The Community Journal recently honored Harry for being the visual pulse of our people at its 35th anniversary Gala.
“The shutter of his lens is now closed,” Mrs. Pattillo said. “He will be greatly missed.”
MCJ Associate Publisher and former Editor (my old immediate boss) Mikel Holt called Harry a “photographer extraordinare.” But what Mikel remembered most about Harry was his “endless wisdom.”
“I, like hundreds of others who knew him were privileged to have had the opportunity to sit at his feet and absorb his unique insights and philosophies.”
Lynda Jones, daughter of Jerrel Jones and editor of the Milwaukee Courier said Harry was more than a photographer for her paper. He was a family member.
And as a family member, Jones said the Courier didn’t mind sharing him with other publications like the Community Journal and thousands of families throughout Milwaukee whose events he photographed.
“I personally do not know of a time when he wasn’t a part of the African American press in this city,” Jones said in a statement. “Every other photographer that I’ve worked with has always expressed the greatest respect for Harry, and now know sorrow for losing him.”
Linda Jackson-Conyers, publisher of the Milwaukee Times, said Harry was one of the most resourceful persons she ever knew.
“He was very knowledgeable. He knew a lot about Black Milwaukee and was very positive. As long as I’ve known him, I never knew him to make a negative comment about anyone,” Linda said.
“He saw the positive in everyone and saw everyone as a contributor to our community.”
Remembering Harry as one of the first individuals he met upon arriving in Milwaukee, Community Journal contributor and educator/historian Taki Raton said he was impressed by Harry’s recall of history and his “refined oral passage of our knowledge. He was truly—in my mind—symbolic of an esteemed African Griot.
“He will be truly missed. But I will carry his respectable teachings and prideful model as an elder with me always.”
I spoke to three photographers who worked with Harry or were often covering the same events he was. They remember Harry as a friend first and a teacher second, someone who was always willing to share his knowledge of photography.
Photographer Kim Robinson, whose work (especially his Packer photos) graces the pages of the Community Journal, said Harry was an inspiring mentor and a pioneer in the area of photojournalism. “He had a certain eye for capturing news (with his camera),” Kim said.
“The community events that he covered for so many years told a story about Milwaukee. When he and Mattiebelle Woods (a journalism legend in her own right) worked as a team, there was always coverage of small and large events that touched the reader as well as the person in print.”
Another MCJ photographer, Bill Tennessen, knew Harry for over 30 years through media events they both covered.
“Harry was a nice guy and fun to be around,” Bill said. “I don’t think he ever offended anyone in his life.”
Nationally known photographer Frankie Cole, known for his iconic photos of the Great Circus Parade and photos of actor Ernest Borgnine who would come to Milwaukee for the parade and dress as a clown and entertain the crowd, was a MCJ photographer “back-in-the-day” and knew and worked with Harry.
Like a number of individuals quoted for this tribute, Frankie called Harry the community Gordon Parks. If anyone would know, it is Frankie. Parks was Cole’s idol and inspiration. He even had an opportunity to meet and work with Parks, whose photos are legendary.
Frankie praised Harry and his dedication to photographing the community. “He was unreal, unstoppable; doing all kinds of great things (with his camera). He was a die-hard kind of guy.
“He always showed up for an assignment, and there were a lot of assignments he did I wouldn’t do,” Frankie admitted in an interview. “He just did it. There was nothing he wouldn’t do photography wise.”
Calling Harry an “even-keeled kind of guy,” Frankie said Harry was very creative but would often play down himself, his skills and the famous people he knew and met.
Frankie recalled seeing photos Harry took and being blown away by them, as well as the photos of celebrities and political figures Harry had been photographed with like former President and First Lady Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Yes, Harry had that ability to charm anyone regardless of their status, ethnicity or religious beliefs and political affiliation, young or old.
He made everybody who came in contact with him feel special. And to Harry, everybody was special whether they were in front of his camera or on the bus Harry was riding to another assignment, holding a cup of coffee and regaling someone with his insights on politics, the battle of the sexes, race relations, or how the Brewers were doing, as well as his commentary on life in general.
The community will have an opportunity to return the love and special-ness Harry bestowed on all of us on Friday, Oct 7, 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum, 2620 W. Center St.
Don’t bring your sad face to this “celebration” of Harry’s life. Come with your stories and be ready to laugh and remember our Griot, our own Gordon Parks.
Antoinette Jackson and her family helped celebrate the last book check-out at Villard Avenue Library on Fri., Sept. 30, which will be closed for two weeks in preparation for the grand opening of the new Villard Square branch at 5190 N. 35th St.
Antoinette grew up using the Villard Avenue library and often brings her family. The free grand opening celebration on Sat., Oct. 15 will include a 9:45 a.m. parade of books from the old library to the new led by the Paradigm Drumline, remarks by civic officials, a ribbon cutting, performances by students from the Lincoln Middle School of the Arts, crafts for kids, refreshments, giveaways and more. Find more information at www.mpl.org.
A long-time neighborhood small business owner (Villard Washer & Dryer Repair) and frequent Villard Avenue Library patron, Charles “Chuck” Belin, checks out the last book from the Villard Avenue library branch, assisted by branch manager Kirsten Thompson. He is a member of the Villard Avenue Business Improvement District, managed by the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, which actively fostered support for the new library. The Villard library will be closed for two weeks in preparation for the opening of the new Villard Square branch at 5190 N. 35th St. The free grand opening celebration on Sat., Oct. 15 will include a 9:45 a.m. parade of books from the old library to the new led by the Paradigm Drumline, remarks by civic officials, a ribbon cutting, performances by students from the Lincoln Middle School of the Arts, crafts for kids, refreshments, giveaways and more. Find more information at www.mpl.org.
Helping young girls understand and use the four pillars of for success is the focus.
“Staggering Statistics propel Girls Empowered to Make it 22 (G.E.M 22) to dedicate two years for research and development to ensure that we begin with the end in mind,” The pilot was held at Providence Missionary Baptist Church (3865 N 82nd St) on August 22, 2011.
“The purpose of the pilot was to increase the self images of the one-day retreat participants. Months went into the development of one strategic day of leadership development programming where the goal was to fulfill the purpose,” said Domonique Barley, CEO and Founder of G.E.M 22. She also said statistical data from pre and post surveys will also allow for more strategic planning for the 2013 launch.
Building relationships while introducing G.E.M 22’s leadership pillars; known as the G.E.M Compass of Self-Confidence, Spiritual Guidance, Social Civil Service, and Scholarship was the focus of the pilot. Andrea Williams of Jammin’ 98.3 FM, Teresa Barley of North Milwaukee State Bank, Gulbaz Gill of Mr. Gyro, Gloria Games of Providence Missionary Baptist Church and New Horizons Center Inc. were among the community leaders who support G.E.M 22 and its proactive mission to effect immediate change among girls aged 10 to 15 years.
The 2013 vision includes twenty-two young ladies acquiring life-long skills that will propel each one individually to strive for self-actualization through travel. A new group of 22 young ladies will participate in a seven day retreat bi-annually. The retreat will concentrate on workshops developed from the four “S’s, peer-mentorship programming and developing relationships. Sponsors are needed for 22 GEM’s and donations of any kind are appreciated. Please contact Domonique Barley.
About GEM 22
Nurturing leadership capabilities, advancing dreams and goals while preparing young ladies for womanhood through travel and personal development is the ultimate mission of G.E.M ~22~, which is based in Milwaukee. The acronym stands for Girls Empowered to Make it. Developing and fostering positive self-images of girls 10 to 15 by getting them accustomed to the four “S’s”: Self-confidence, Spiritual guidance, Scholarship and Social civil service. To learn more about what is coming up for GEM 22 please contact Domonique Barley at Barleydt03@gmail.com
North Division High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee is hosting its 3rd Hall of Fame Athletic Awards Banquet on Saturday October 22, 2011 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 11600 West Park Place, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53224. The Hall of Fame was created to recognize and honor North Division athletics who excelled in sports while maintaining elite character as a representative of the school. Fourteen (14) athletes and two (2) coaches/administrators/supporters will be honored at a banquet held on October 22, 2011.
The inductees for 2011 in alphabetical order are: Gisela Benning, Cullen W. Carey, Garner Currie, Douglas Houston English, Elton Gillie, Eugene Hamilton, Curtiss Harris, Theresa Wright Hudson, Milton Johnson, Harold Lee, James E. Love, William Malone, Sr., Jeffrey May, Thomas Nitzsche, David M.L. Reneau, and Ervin Terry.
For ticket information please call Jim Smith at 414-372-9246 or Michael Cummings at 414-464-5350.
Abuse Survivor Offers Tips For Alternative Punishments
Esther Joseph doesn’t need to read studies or statistics to understand the problems of child abuse. She survived it.
Joseph, an advocate against corporal punishment in the home, spent her childhood alternately suffering physical abuse from her mother and emotional abuse from her father. But she doesn’t consider herself a victim.
“I’m a survivor of child abuse,” said Joseph, author of Memories of Hell, Visions of Heaven—A Story of Survival Transformation and Hope (www.unityinherited.com). “In overcoming the damage of an upbringing riddled with violence, I was adamant that I would not grow up to be an abuser, as well. I know the dangers of striking a child to discipline them and then explaining that you’re doing it for their own good and because you love them. All that does is teach the child that violence is an acceptable part of love, and as they grow up, they accept violence in their adult relationships because they’ve been taught that it’s completely normal.”
Joseph believes that discipline is important, but that it can be delivered without making violence an acceptable part of life.
“No matter how out of control a child may be considered, a beating is never an effective way to get their attention, obedience or respect,” she added. “Parents must understand that there are other disciplinary measures, less violent and degrading methods that will garner the results they seek, while raising children to become emotional health and fulfilled adults.”
Joseph offered a few simple tips for alternative means of helping children behave. They include:
- Be a Good Example – Parents must live by example, allowing their actions and not just their words to exemplify the kind of person they would like their child to become.
- Be One Step Ahead – Don’t wait until your child has done something “wrong” to have a talk with them. Parents can circumvent many foreseeable challenges by addressing them before they become an issue.
- Be Creative – One type of punishment does not work for every child. Parents must figure out and utilize a form of reprimand that would work best for their child’s particular temperament.
“Every spanking, no matter how mild, has an impact,” Joseph said. “Parents should be aware that a spanked child becomes a emotionally crippled adult who goes out into the world and plays this handicap onto others, perpetuating the idea that abusive relationships are just a normal part of life. Now, I understand that people justify it by thinking, ‘I was spanked as a child and I turned out okay,’ but that equation doesn’t work for everyone. When we begin to justify violence as a part of our children’s lives, it becomes a slippery slope when we try to determine how much is too much? A spanking every once in a while? Using a belt or a hairbrush instead of a hand if a child is really misbehaving? At what point do you say it’s too much? The bottom line is that once is too much, because it makes a second, third and 20th time that much easier to rationalize. But for those who have been abused, no matter their pasts, it does not define them nor does it determine their future. Everyone can break the bonds of their past experiences and find their way to the life and future they crave.”
Milwaukee area men who are shining examples of fatherhood will be honored at the 6th Annual Fatherhood Summit. The Summit will be held Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 8 at Destiny Youth Plaza at 7210 N. 76th Street.
The Super Star Fathers will be honored at a luncheon program on Saturday at noon where they will be presented with the Al Homes Outstanding Father Award. They will be singled out at the Fatherhood Summit for being involved, responsible and committed fathers.
Recipients include Mike Anderson, John Steinmiller, Andrew Schlesigner, LaTroy Hawkins, Rick Schlesigner, Akpan Blake, Dwight Gilbert, Parris Nash, Rodney Evans, Montez Smith, Jarvis McCoy, Ruben Hopkins, Anthony Higgins, Carol Sloan, and Monte Mabra. Special recognition will also be made for Fatherhood Summit supporters Levy Foods, ReDonna Rogers of the Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Jermaine Reed of Fresh Start Counseling Center, Johnnie and Debra Fields of Asentu Rites of Passage Institute, and Thomas Mitchell of the Milwaukee Community Journal.
The Milwaukee Fatherhood Summit is being organized by the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative (MFI) and the Social Development Commission (SDC) as a way to teach and encourage men to become better fathers, making stronger families and stronger communities. For more information on the Fatherhood Summit, visit the MFI website at www.milwaukeefatherhood.com or the SDC site at www.cr-sdc.org.
Community Partners Embark on Crusade with G.E.M 22 and its Dynamic Pilot for Adolescent Girls
North Division High School Athletic Hall of Fame to hold 3rd annual Hall of Fame Athletic Awards Banquet Oct. 22
Schedule of events
“Everything a pregnant woman could ever want or need,
featuring a huge selection of Maternity Fashion”
10:15 AM – 11:15 AM Mommy & Me Yoga
5:45 PM – 6:45 PM Prenatal PiYo
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga & Relaxation
7:30 PM – 8:30 PM Prenatal Belly Dancing
10:15 AM – 11:15 AM Prenatal Yoga
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Prenatal Yoga & Relaxation
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Prenatal Yoga
10:15 AM – 11:15 PM Baby Yoga (no class 11/24)
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Prenatal Yoga (no class 11/24)
10:15 AM – 11:15 AM Strong Mom’s Strength Training (no class 11/26)
11:15 AM – 12:15 PM Prenatal PiYo (no class 11/26)
Please call to pre-register for class! Class size is limited. If you are going to be more than 5 minutes late please call to reserve your spot!
Please call 262-786-9872 to pre-register for class
This class is designed for new parents and their babies, birth to three months, and covers a variety of yoga techniques including: instant relaxation, soothing crying & colic, digestive and sleep problems for your baby! New parents also enjoy simple yoga based stretching and relaxation. If mom has received doc’s approval for exercise, the second part of class can help her regain her shape with a PIYO pilates/yoga fusion class. The focus is on balance, core strength, and realigning the spine, elements critical to getting fit after baby. No experience necessary…dads are welcome too!
Belly Dancing through Pregnancy and Postnatal
Belly Dance has a therapeutic advantage for pregnant women in relieving pain, strengthening the internal muscles involved in the birthing process, harmonizing the mother and child through prenatal interaction and instilling a sense of joy and celebration throughout the prenatal and birthing process. Dance through pregnancy enhances a sense of well being, control and body image, increases stamina, reduces swelling and improves abdominal control and awareness. Women receiving approval for exercise after their six-week checkup may return to class with baby placed in a sling. Enjoy the bonding experience and regain your pre-pregnancy shape with movements designed just for you!
Mommy & Me
This class is for new moms and babies 3 – 8 months and focuses primarily on forming a bond with baby, using baby yoga techniques and incorporating baby into yoga poses. During the second portion of class, new moms regain their shape through PIYO pilates/yoga fusion, focusing on balance, core strength, and realigning spine elements, all critical to getting fit after baby. It is highly recommended that you attend a baby yoga class, regardless of your child’s age, prior to attending this class.
This prenatal blend of Pilates and Yoga techniques provides a wonderful way to bring mind, body and spirit together with pregnancy. Each class will leave you calm, balanced and rejuvenated
Prenatal Yoga / Yoga & Relaxation
Certified prenatal/postnatal yoga instructors guide you through basic techniques to increase flexibility, strength, circulation, balance and the mind-body-spirit connection for expecting and postnatal Moms. In the Prenatal Yoga & Relaxation class, you will learn additional valuable tools to prepare for labor, such as breathing and guided relaxation techniques.
Strong Mom’s Strength Training
Jaime Wooten, Certified Prenatal Personal Trainer, will lead you through a complete, safe and gentle prenatal workout using small hand weights, and your own body for resistance. Jaime’s strength training routine will improve energy level, attitude and self-image. Please bring 3 – 5 lbs hand weights with you to class. After baby, return to class and bring 5 – 8 lbs with you to class!
16010 West Bluemound Road, Brookfield, WI 53005
Innovative program helps youth and adults focus on healthy relationship building
MILWAUKEE – October 4, 2011. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a $1.77 million grant, renewable annually for up to three years, to continue and expand the successful Vow to Succeed Program through the Center for Self-Sufficiency. This program was first developed in 2006 through a 5-year, $5.5 million federal grant in support of the Healthy Marriage Initiative, which was established to create recognition and awareness of the importance of positive relationships through outreach and community educational programming.
“We are very pleased to receive the funding for our continued efforts in this area,” says Angela Turner, president and CEO of the Center for Self Sufficiency. “The work we do, in collaboration with our partner agencies in the greater Milwaukee area, provides essential support for youth and adults in incorporating healthy relationships and marriages into their lives and fostering economic stability.”
The Center for Self-Sufficiency works with faith- and community-based organizations as well as schools to provide classes to youth, singles and married couples in the areas of healthy relationships, marriage preparation, marriage enhancement and teen pregnancy prevention.
“It is exciting to know that we will be able to continue participating in the existing programming now in place that assists people in recognizing the need for healthy relationships,” says Lupe Martinez, president and CEO of UMOS. “Vow to Succeed provides them with the tools they need to create them in their own lives. We are pleased to continue our work with this program.”
The Center for Self-Sufficiency will work with more than a dozen partners, and appreciates their support and the support of Eloise Anderson in particular. As Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, she was instrumental in developing a partnership between the Department of Children and Families and CFSS for this project to improve services to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families-eligible families and to create an effective domestic violence and child maltreatment service network.
With this funding, the Center’s Vow to Succeed will continue offering a variety of programming in the community, from full-day workshops to retreats and evening classes. All programming is free and open to the public. For more information on the Center for Self-Sufficiency and its Vow to Succeed program, including educational topics, upcoming events, community partner locations and how to get involved, visit www.centerinc.org or call (414) 332-0050.