Two mademoiselles joined the line of French Can-Can dancers at the recently concluded Bastille Days celebration along Kilbourn Avenue downtown.
Despite the heat, the celebration still drew thousands who wanted a taste of French culture. (Photos by Harry Kemp)
Just as Hollywood’s elite shines as they walk the red carpet, Milwaukee’s movers and shakers will sparkle as they attend the MCJ’s Academy of Legends Gala on Saturday, August 6th at the Italian Conference Center, 613 E. Chicago Ave.
Celebrating the city’s past, present and future pillars as well as honoring the scholastic achievements of
several area scholars, community leaders who made the Final Four in the categories of Law, Elected Officials, Social and Civic Services, Religion, Education, Business, Arts and Music, Legacy Builders; and Media will be honored. The top ten vote-getters in the aforementioned categories will be named to the distinguished 2011 Academy of Legends, while our academicians, the Terrence N. Thomas Scholarship award winners, will receive $2,500 to help fund their collegiate education.
Ready with her red-carpet look, the model (at right) is wearing a beautiful dress, compliments of Boston Store, and will shine the evening of the gala. You won’t want to miss this exciting event! For ticket information, contact the MCJ offices at 414-265-5300. See you on the red carpet!
by Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr.
When Eric Von returned to the radio airwaves on July 19, 2010 to host WMCS
1290 AM’s “The Morning Magazine” show, it was music to the ears
of his listeners and fans of talk radio who appreciated his direct,
no nonsense style and insightful analysis of issues important to
Black Milwaukeeans but given little—if any—attention by the
mainstream news media.
A year and half prior, the community was stunned to turn on its radio
in February of 2009 and find Von and three other popular station talk
show personalities no longer on the station that promotes itself as
“The Talk of the Town.”
Von reportedly resigned because of budget cuts at the station in response
to the nation’s economic downturn, which impacted all media.
When listeners (among them then state legislator Annette Polly Williams)
demanded the station replace national talkers with local
personalities committed to reading the pulse of Black Milwaukee,
station management listened and brought Von back to the “Morning
Magazine,” the show he hosted for 10 years until 2002.
That year, Von moved to Phoenix, coming back to WMCS two years later to
host “The Eric Von Show” in the late afternoon drive-time slot.
Reflecting on the one year anniversary of his return to the radio station, Von
said it feels good to be back behind the microphone talking to
listeners and interviewing local and national movers and shakers in
politics, education, health, teen-pregnancy, employment and law and
order, to name a few.
A veteran of Milwaukee radio (and television), Von has seen Black radio
in the city and nation grow from its singular focus on music to now
devoting more air time to issue-related broadcasts that inform
listeners and give them an opportunity to express their views.
“More (radio) stations are recognizing the need for the discussion and
debate of issues that impact the Black community,” Von said during
a recent interview.
But the growth of talk radio over the years—particularly in Black
radio—hasn’t been without its growing pains. Von said more
doesn’t necessarily mean good.
Von said radio stations—Black and White—devoted to talk radio must
make a greater effort to screen individuals who want to stand on the
bully pulpit that the radio microphone represents.
“(We need) more responsible people who understand the value of the
opportunity they’re being given; it doesn’t come lightly or
easily,” Von said.
Talk radio hosts, Von believes, should be able to do more than offer an
opinion. What they say should be fact-based and “not just argument
for argument’s sake; but because of legitimate issues.
“We can’t have less quality, we need more quality. African American
listeners deserve that.”
Von sees Black Talk Radio continuing to grow in Milwaukee and throughout
America. “The need for information to be passed through the
airwaves is more intense now. So many things are happening on many
And the means of communication are as varied as the information. Von
noted how radio and newspapers are battling the Internet—via social
media vehicles such as Blogs, Facebook and Twitter—for the minds of
However, the downside of the “new media” is that fact often takes a
backseat to hyperbole, which is passed as news that contains little
to no facts.
“On my show, people tell me they heard such and such on the news. But
they’re talking of a talk show reality. It’s hard to decipher
news from entertainment.”
Von said the presidency of Barack Obama has convinced him that being
president is the toughest job anyone can do. “We’ve seen more
illustrations of that with President Obama than with any other
president since I’ve been old enough to pay attention to politics.
“He’s up against it. He has the Democrats to fight, the Republicans to
fight, even Black people to fight. He gets his health plan passed and
people are screaming against ‘Obamacare,’ saying it’s
unconstitutional,” he said.
Von credits President Obama for doing what no other president has
done—with the exception of former President Bill Clinton’s
attempt: Get through Congress a comprehensive health care plan that
satisfies the needs of millions of Americans.
Commenting on the state of Black Milwaukee, Von doesn’t see what has been a
bad situation for the city’s majority minority group getting any
better, especially with Gov. Scott Walker at the helm.
“I can’t see many of the things Gov. Walker is doing improving the
quality of life for African Americans—or average citizens of any
race,” Von said.
“If history is any guide, Walker’s proposals—and the laws he’s
pushed that have already passed—are not going to bode well for
African Americans and people of marginal means.”
Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Warren Ballentine (whose “The
Warren Ballentine Show” is heard immediately after Von’s) is
strongly urging Black listeners to start community accounts in
Black-owned banks in their respective cities.
The funds in these accounts would be used to create businesses, thus
creating jobs, which would lead to the upliftment of the race on an
economic level, and possibly have a positive ripple affect on other
challenges facing Black America.
While he finds Ballentine’s idea laudable, Von says many Black
Milwaukeeans don’t have the financial means to do what Ballentine
“People do it all the time outside the community. But we need a strategy and
capital to begin. Without it, how practical is Ballentine’s idea?
“Black male unemployment is high. Where do they get even the minimum dollars
to invest? I don’t think people in the community have the dollars
to take that risk.”
What’s next for Von? Grandfatherhood—for the second time. His daughter is
expecting a little girl. This second time around should be a piece of
cake for Von, given his experience with his energetic grandson, who
he described as a “pistol.”
“He’s unstoppable,” Von chuckled. “If his sister is anything like him,
my daughter is going to have a mess on her hands. He goes a 100-miles
per hour. But he’s a smart kid. He understands more than a lot of
Question of the week: “How will the recent budget limitations affect our high schools?”
Photos and question by Yvonne Kemp
Chuck Hardrick: “It is going to increase class sizes with the number of students making it harder to reach out to most kids.”
Pamela L. Harrell: “The recent budget cut will dramatically affect the high school budget, cutting not only sport and music programs, but more importantly the educational curriculum, which will not allow our children to graduate and compete on high levels in higher education or the corporate world.”
Richard A. McClain: “(There will be an) increase class sizes and lack of quality teachers because teacher’s motivation is not there.”
Bettye Washington: “The current MPS budget will have a drastic impact on resources, staff and especially opportunities in fine arts. There are so many cuts we will need to be creative to explore grants and additional funding opportunities. The community needs to really step up to the plate and really be advocates for our children.”
by Troy Sparks
In some team sports, at all levels, doers practice to the whistle; doers practice as hard as they play. And whatever the outcome, you get out of it what you put into it. The Wisconsin Playground Elite 13U girls AAU basketball team won a lot of games over the last two summers, losing none. What they lacked on a national level was respect. There was only one way to get national respect: Win the AAU 13U National Tournament in Orlando, FL. At a practice in June at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, the young women were hard at work and preparing for the tournament. They like playing together, and they get along on and off the court. Coach Kevin Johnson put together a collection of players who were willing to check their egos at the door and play for one common goal: To bring home the championship trophy. “A lot of these girls are stars on their own (school) teams,” he said. “So what I did was go out and recruited a lot of them who are the best players on their teams. And once I put them all together, they collaborated well. They like playing with each other. They’re very unselfish, and they all are winners.” Imagine being on a team that haven’t lost a game in a tournament in a long time. Winning breeds confidence, which these girls will need as they prepare to play for their high school teams in the fall. According to Johnson, the best player on the team is Arike Ogunbowale. She will play at Divine Savior Holy Angels as a freshman. Ogunbowale is already receiving Division I interest, even before walking through the doors of DSHA. Of the 12 girls on the team, seven live in Milwaukee and the remaining five are from Brookfield, Brown Deer, Verona, Burlington and New Berlin, respectively. They treat each other with respect, regardless of their backgrounds. “I like Playground Elite a lot because the girls come from a lot of different places,” Nicole Holstein of New Berlin said. She will play at New Berlin West next season. Shakeela Fowler of Brown Deer loves the team chemistry. “You get to know each other. Once you get familiar with everybody, you try to stick together. We all love each other. It’s like a big family.” Fowler is headed for Rufus King. Johnson said that she will start at point guard. His daughter, Alona Johnson, he said, has early interest from Marquette, North Dakota and South Dakota. One look at the roster, and you would think that this undersized team isn’t big enough to contend with bigger teams. An observer watched a game of a spring tournament and found that their quickness overcame the lack of size. “We stay on our man,” Alona Johnson said. “We call out picks. We call help side (defense). And we do what we have to do.” The Playground Elite team came out swinging in that game in St. Louis. Their pressure defense forced turnovers, which turned into points on their end of the basket. They lost the lead briefly before getting it back and barely survived, pulling out the win. Their two-year undefeated streak was tested in one game. Playground Elite were down by 20 points at halftime to a team from Illinois, the same team they beat for the 6th grade national championship. Johnson calmed the girls down and told them to believe that they were the best team on the floor. They turned a 20-point deficit into an 18-point win. “We all play together,” Milwaukee Riverside-bound Amani Wilborn said. “And even though we were all not playing well, we still stick together.” With the upcoming trip to Orlando on his mind, the fourth year coach was looking for respect. “We won a lot of games,” Johnson said. “We won two national championships in two different national tournaments. If we can bring this (national AAU championship trophy) back, this is like bringing back a state championship.” “I’ll be extremely excited,” said Allazia Blockton, who’s headed for Whitefish Bay Dominican. “That means we’re ranked No. 1 in the nation.” At the AAU 13U National Tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, FL, July 5-7, the Playground Elite team accomplished what they set out to do by winning the national championship over a tough North Tartan (MN) team, 60-58, July 7. Blockton had 17 points and played the entire 32-minute game. “We had some mental breakdowns, but we still finished the tournament as champions,” Johnson said days after the game. “We are the only team to come to this event and win it on our first trip here, and that says a lot for this team. They have worked so hard and it paid off. We are the No. 1 team in the country, and we’re from Milwaukee, WI.” If Playground Elite win the North Tartan Meltdown Tournament in late July, they will keep their unbeaten streak intact. “We don’t want to let people down,” Alona Johnson said. “When we come out, we come out strong. We don’t like blowing people out, but I guess that’s what we have to do to win.” 29th Street Alumni Basketball Camp The 29th Street alumni basketball team will hold a camp at North Division for ages 9-12, July 29-30, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call Calvin Rayford at 688-1396 or Daryl Banks at 899-9569.
State Sen. Spencer Coggs shakes the hand of former Negro Leaguer and Milwaukee native Dennis Biddle during an autograph signing session with other Negro League greats at a tailgate party in their honor before the Brewer’s Negro League Tribute game between the Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park recently. A pregame ceremony was held honoring this years inductees Charles Davis and Johnny Washington. Both men were inducted the next day into the Yesterday’s Negro League Baseball Players Hall of Fame. That ceremony was held at Holy Redeemer institutional Church of God in Christ’s Mother Kathryn Daniels Conference Center. (Photo by Harry Kemp)
Religious group protests lack of minority job opportunities
Representatives of MICAH and concerned citizens and activists recently gathered to protest the lack of minority participation at the Westlawn construction project located along Silver Spring Drive. The organization has declared a “State of Emergency” in Milwaukee in regards to job opportunities for African Americans and other minorities. The protest at the Westlawn site Tuesday morning was an attempt by MICAH to call attention to the inequalities in the workforce. MICAH is calling on its collaborative partners and concerned citizens to stand up and join them in combating the lack of minority participation in the trades. The organization’s officials say they’re willing to work with elected officials and other organizations to insure that minority contractors are included in all contracts that are awarded by the city, which nationally ranks among the worst as it relates to segregation, poverty, unemployment, Black male unemployment, Black infant mortality, minority business ownership, Black male incarceration, and education. The state’s new budget is expected to place an even heavier burden on the city. (Photo by Wendell Harris)
On Saturday, August 6, 2011, the
Italian Conference Center, 613 E. Chicago Avenue, will be the place
legends will be exalted in the areas of Law, Politics, Social and
Civic Services, Religion, Education, Business, Arts and Music, Legacy
Builders, Medicine and Media. Ten top vote-getters in each
aforementioned category will be named to the prestigious 2011 Academy
of Legends. Students who make the Deans List’s at their respective
colleges and universities will receive academic stipends of $2,500
for their 2011-2012 school year. The young lady at right is wearing a
beautiful black evening gown, compliments of the Boston Store. The
dress represents the elegant attire ladies and gentlemen will be
wearing the night of this highly anticipated event. For ticket
information call the MCJ offices at 265-5300. The Red Carpet Awaits!
Edith Finlayson’s name is synonymous with community and civic service and evidence of that is the number of organizations that have scholarships named in her honor, from the Links, Inc., of which she was an active member, to Milwaukee Area Technical College. Finlayson worked long and hard to help those less fortunate whether it was assisting as a volunteer at the EB Phillips Child Care Center, or advocating on behalf of women and children. Since 2003, through a partnership with the Fellowship Open and Quarles and Brady Law Firm, the Edith Norman Finlayson award was established which provides a monetary gift to a non-profit organization as part of the award process.
Finlayson was a visionary who used her talents, experiences and resources in education, business, health, women’s and children’s issues, politics and philanthropy to make a difference in the city of Milwaukee.
A champion of social justice and former member of the UW System Board of Regents, Finlayson has passed on, but her legacy remains in Milwaukee in the form of scholarships and awards that bear her name.
She was appointed to the board by former Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus and served from 1980-87. She chaired the board’s Education Committee, was instrumental in enhancing UW-Milwaukee’s doctoral programs and helped establish the Leon Sullivan Distinguished Professorship at UWM.
Finlayson was also a founding member of the National Organization for Women; served as a board member of AWARE, a Wisconsin African Relief Effort; and was board chairman of the Milwaukee Foundation.
Always a pioneer, Finlayson also started an investment club, which is made up mainly of black women. The club was sponsored by North Milwaukee State Bank, where her husband, Dr. Dr. William Finlayson, was a founding member and served as board chairman for many years.
Dr. Wesley Scott was a key leader and visionary in Milwaukee during the tumultuous civil rights movement of the 1960s. He helped to open doors of opportunity for African-Americans and improved the lives of all the underserved in the Milwaukee community.
Born in the mountains of Eckman, West Virginia, the oldest of 18 children, Dr. Scott fought his way out of poverty after studying at Bluefield State College and later transferring to Xavier University in New Orleans, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree. After a stint in the U.S. Army, where he served in the South Pacific during World War II, Dr. Scott married the former Mary Robinson in 1947 and then returned to school, earning a master’s degree in social work from Ohio State University. Dr. Scott served as executive director of the Massillon, Ohio Urban League before coming to Milwaukee where he served as the Milwaukee Urban League’s deputy executive director in 1958, and went on to become executive director a year later—a position he held for 23 years. After retiring, Dr. Scott worked as a consultant to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. Dr. Scott was a pioneer who sought to bridge the gap between the power structure of the community and the Black community, and to advance the Black community. He fought hard and tirelessly for civil rights, education and employment opportunities on behalf of disenfranchised populations. Recently ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held for an 80-apartment, $10 million senior development community, named in Dr. Scott’s honor—The Dr. Wesley Scott Senior Living Community. The development is a partnership between the Urban League and Gorman & Co. A bronze bust, created in the likeness of Dr. Scott is housed at the senior living facility. It’s fitting that a bronze bust was commissioned in his honor, because it serves as a tangible reminder of one man who made a difference in our community.
Martha Toran and her husband were once co-owners of one of the most popular night spots in town—Toran’s Tropical Hut—or Toran’s as it was affectionately called. For years everybody flocked there for lunch, happy hour and on the weekends to meet and greet the movers and shakers in the community. Toran’s was strictly for adults, not the teeny boppers. After her husband died, Martha closed up Toran’s and never looked back. She found another niche—that of community activist—and it’s a role she continues to play today.
At 70-something, Toran remains active in political campaigns, voter registration, senior citizen rights and numerous other activities throughout Wisconsin. While the years have slowed her step some, her vision is as clear and focused as ever. A self-described “senior citizen community activist” and chair of the Central City Transit Task Force Toran is also a staunch supporter of light rail, and has had the pleasure of serving as a delegate at National Democratic Conventions.
On occasion, she rents a scooter to participate in activities to make sure her legs don’t give out while she’s waiting to be heard, picket or stand in line for one event or another. She is active with the NAACP and serves on the City of Milwaukee Ethics Board, and other committees too numerous to name.
Toran may have ended a career as a Milwaukee business owner, but on the second leg of her life’s journey she has truly found her voice—and she makes sure it’s heard as she represents the disenfranchised.
Dr. Patricia McManus, president and CEO of Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, recently received an award from Heart & Soul Magazine for her service to Milwaukee’s Black community as well as for her work “advocating on healthcare issues and its access, quality and inclusion for everyone,” said Edwin V. Avent, president/publisher of Heart & Soul.” Avent noted Dr. McManus’ efforts to make healthcare more inclusive for everyone, and her consulting on cultural competence, system change and domestic violence, as well as for founding the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin. The awards event was held June 8 in Baltimore, MD. Heart & Soul Magazine is a bi-monthly publication that promotes the physical, mental, spiritual and financial well-being of Black women and their families.
Question of the Week to Negro League old-timers:“What was the most important aspect of the Negro Leagues as a player to you?”
Photos and question by Yvonne Kemp
Nathan Weston: “My biggest thrill playing in the Negro League, for me, was meeting Jackie Robinson. He encouraged me and that led to me wearing a Dodgers uniform.”
Hank Presswood: “I loved the game! I learned to play baseball in the cotton fields. My biggest thrill came when I started playing in the Negro Leagues.”
Johnny Washington: “The guys taught me the real game of baseball when I started playing in the Negro Leagues.
Dennis Biddle: “A learning experience! The guys in the Negro Leagues trained me for the Major Leagues.”