Larry Waters (pictured above at right), Director of Multicultural Relations for MillerCoors Brewing Co., accepts the 2011 NNPA Foundation Chairman’s Award that was presented to him by NNPA Chairwoman Dorothy Leavell (at left) during the Merit Awards Gala held at the recently concluded annual convention of the NNPA in Chicago.
“If it happened in Milwaukee between 1968 and 2007, Clayborn Benson probably captured pictures of it,” writes Laura L. Hunt in a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee periodical writing “Telling Milwaukee stories both vintage and modern.”
“A videographer in television news for a whopping 39 years,” she adds, “Benson was only the second African American in the profession in Milwaukee when he began. Today, he’s focused on events far more vintage.”
This current day focus as we all know and love in our support of him is the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum (WBHS/M) which he founded 24 years ago in 1987. Located at 2620 West Center Street, the WBHS/M will sponsor its “Open House” this Saturday, July 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Events will include arts and craft projects, tours, guest speakers and presentations on the rich historical legacy of African Americans in Wisconsin, African traditions, the Civil Rights Movement, the Underground Railroad and related reclaimed presentations highlighting African contributions and Black achievement.
While working for WTMJ-TV (NBC Affiliate) in 1983, Benson began working on a project exploring the history of African Americans in the State of Wisconsin. Taking more than three years to complete, the effort was titled “Black Communities in Wisconsin.”
Benson discovered while working on this project that the records and documents on the history and roots of Black people in Wisconsin “were widely scattered and poorly preserved.”
“Wisconsin’s African American history was found spread out all over the entire state, from cardboard boxes in basements, to individual’s home and garages, to information only to be found in the minds of individuals who lived through history making times,” notes the WBHS founder.
He further discovered in his attempt to uncover our history that in many cases, “important archival documents were sitting in the dark of historical societies, buried under boxes and files of other papers or set aside for lack of knowledge as to their importance or usage of the information.
These documents did not seem to be of value to some of the established historical societies while other institutions refused to share their information,” he adds.
Once released, the video generated so much interest that Benson, along with other community leaders established the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum. The WBHS/M first announced its opening in February 1987 at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Finlayson. The Society has since been accepted as an affiliated member of the State Historical Society.
The WBHS/M features themed exhibits on “Work’n In The Promised Land: The African American Labor Experience in Wisconsin,” “The NAACP Civil Rights Tribute Bus Exhibit” depiction of local and national civil rights pioneers, and the artist George Gist’s mural “Ancient Egypt to Modern Milwaukee”:
“This exhibit tells of the hard work, the labors of our forefathers and foremothers,” says Benson. “So, we ask the greatest of our greatest grandmothers and the greatest of our greatest grandfathers, and all of the ancestors who have gone before us for help in telling this story about the work we have done.”
He adds that, “We must see ourselves through our own eyes and reflect the true nature that is our heritage. Our legacy for future generations is at stake.”
The WBHS/M Online exhibit listing includes such themes as “African American Firefighters: Our Brothers Under Fire,” “40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement: March on Milwaukee 2007,” “The Black Heritage in Milwaukee Project,” and “The Charles Warren Exhibit.”
Lesson plans and worksheets on Wisconsin’s African American history for elementary and secondary levels and biographies of significant Wisconsin African American historical stakeholders are additionally a feature of the WBHS/M offerings.
The WBHS/M founder earned his undergrad degree from UWM in 1987 while still working at WTMJ. On October 2, 2010, he was inducted into the prestigious Silver Circle as a member of the 2010 Milwaukee Silver Circle Honors.
Sponsored by The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Silver Circle recognizes outstanding individuals who have devoted a quarter of a century or more to the television industry and have made a significant contribution to local broadcasting.
Benson is one of five nominees for the media category in the coming Academy of Legions Recognition Awards Ceremony Saturday, August 6 at the Italian Community Center.
The mission of the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum is to document and preserve the historical heritage of African descent in Wisconsin.
The museum exhibits, collects and disseminates material depicting this heritage and serves as a resource center for persons interested in Wisconsin’s rich African American heritage.
For additional information on the WBHS/M July 30 Open House or on programs offered, please call (414) 372-7677 or visit their website at www.wbhsm.org.
Chicago Atl/Rock Singer Esh continues to defy all odds, commanding center stage among her dominant male counter parts. Her signature spitfire red hair and sexy, but edgy black wardrobe signifies her glam/punk rock style. Her innovated combination of glam/rock & progressive rock projects waves of energy and excitement in every performance. Esh’s sound revisits artist from the early 80’s like the Rock duo Heart, Tina Turner & Pat Benatar; which she names as some her musical influences. This well- sought after Indie artist is currently working on her highly anticipated first EP, to be released this fall, while touring the Midwest with her band members; Lead Guitarist Nick Jaffe, Bass Guitar- Terrance Lee & Drums Brandon Tigner. Her self-titled show, (The Esh Experience) takes you on an extraordinary rollercoaster of emotions. She covers songs that range from Radiohead’s “All I Need”–where she adds a spiritual awakening to this smash hit—to The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” in which she electrifies the stage with her raw vocals leaving the audience craving for more. Before the show ends, she opens a window into her personal thoughts & feelings with countless original songs. Esh is more than just a singer/songwriter; she continues to stay culturally and socially active. She puts tremendous value in giving back to her community. She works for a non-profit organization where she puts her God-given talents to use. She teaches urban youth visual/ performing arts. She states: “…exposing children to the arts can not only influence their lives, but change their destiny.” The Esh Experience recently performed at The Elbo Room in Chicago. You can find upcoming tour dates & new music @ EshThesinger on Facebook, ReverbNation & Youtube. Before the end of the interview, the soft spoken singer with the powerful voice encouraged her fans and others who don’t yet know her or have heard her music to “dream big and step out of your comfort zone, never allow others to place you in a box.
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.
Free and Reliable Help Will Be Offered on August 4th Milwaukee – People in the Milwaukee area who face the possibility of losing their homes to foreclosure can get free and reliable assistance at the upcoming Milwaukee Foreclosure Prevention Event. The event takes place on Thursday, August 4th from 1:00 pm until 7:00 pm inside the Bruce Guadalupe Middle School at 920 South 9th Street in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Foreclosure Prevention Event is sponsored by both the City of Milwaukee and Take Root Milwaukee, the city’s leading consortium working to prevent foreclosures and promote homeownership. “Often, homeowners nearing the possibility of foreclosure are unaware of help that’s available. This upcoming event is the best way for people to get information and take action so they can resolve a difficult situation,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “We want to keep all our neighborhoods as strong as possible, so preventing avoidable foreclosures is a priority.” While the rate of foreclosure filings is slowing, there are still thousands of people in our area who could benefit by participating in the Milwaukee Foreclosure Prevention Event. Event participants will have the opportunity to speak with area lenders and local housing counselors who will be on hand to conduct loan workout sessions, offer mortgage refinance options, and provide information about financial literacy programs. There is no charge for participating in the Milwaukee Foreclosure Prevention Event. More information is available by calling Take Root Milwaukee at 414-921-4149 or online at www.takerootmilwaukee.org. Take Root Milwaukee provides free or low-cost, confidential assistance to help you purchase and keep your new home, or help you find alternatives to foreclosure. Take Root will connect you to professional, established nonprofit organizations right here in Milwaukee – people and resources you can trust.