Also wants to show Milwaukee as a
“gritty city” solving urban problems that reflects country’s challenges
By Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr
A “Milwaukee-centric convention!”
That’s what Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett wants the 2020 Democratic National Convention to be: a convention the residents, entrepreneurs, and businesses who live and work in Milwaukee have ownership of that will have the attention of the nation and the world from July 13 to 16.
It will be the job of Lafayette Crump and Nikki Purvis to make sure Milwaukeeans are part of making the convention a success. Crump and Purvis joined the mayor for an interview on what it means to have the political convention in Milwaukee image-wise and economically—especially for African Americans and other people of color.
Aside from the pride citizens of the city and state should feel in making history hosting the convention, Barrett stressed some of that history will be made beyond the Fiserv Forum convention site and into the city’s diverse communities. That’s where Crump and Purvis come in.
Crump is the Milwaukee DNC organizing committee’s vice president of diversity, vendor accountability and growth.
Crump, who is chief operating officer of Prism Technical Management & Marketing, said the committee is focused on making sure the entire process—from planning to the actual event—is diversified.
Purvis is the director of small business development for the city. She will make sure disadvantaged (minority) businesses and entrepreneurs have an opportunity to participate and get at least $50 million of the expected $200 million the convention would generate.
“Including people from all over the city of various demographics is crucial to what we’re doing,” said Crump, who encourages small minority businesses to reach out to the committee and Purvis and share whatever concerns they may have about being a vendor, especially as it relates to handling the large number of conventioneers, and help them work through their concerns.
Echoing Crump’s promise to make sure disadvantaged businesses have an opportunity to participate, Purvis said small businesses are—and always have been—important to a city’s economic success.
Purvis said her office will be reaching out to small businesses and community-based programs. She hopes their involvement in the convention will have long-term positive effects on their businesses and community efforts.
Approximately 15,000 volunteers will be needed to work the convention. Both Crump and Purvis stressed the importance of making sure those volunteers represent the city’s diversity.
Aside from the goings on at the convention, media will also focus on the challenges—like other U.S. cities—Milwaukee faces, such as crime and poverty.
Barrett said Milwaukee and the DNC won’t shy away from questions about the city’s challenges, adding he welcomes the opportunity to show visitors that Milwaukee is a “gritty city” working diligently—and with some success—in overcoming economic, poverty, and racial challenges.
The mayor pointed to the recent announcement by meat processor Strauss Brands to build its headquarters and processing facility at the Century City business park, located in the heart of the Black community.
He also noted the Kamatsu Company is moving its headquarters to the south side of the city. “We’re working to get more jobs into neighborhoods where people live,” Barrett said, adding the city is “fighting back” against approximately three decades worth of industrial decline which had a particularly devastating impact on people of color leading to increases in poverty, crime, and homelessness.
“We’ve got issues of poverty and racial injustice. We’ve never tried to hide from that; it’s too important,” said Barrett. “Honesty about those issues is important. That’s the first step.”
The mayor believes what he and other city officials are doing to improve conditions in Milwaukee can serve as a blueprint for the Democratic Party as it creates its platform for the November election.
“I go to different neighborhoods all over the city. What I see and hear from people in those neighborhoods is that they love their children, they want family-supporting jobs, and safe streets. Those are the common denominators we have as human beings.”
Crump used the mayor’s comment about neighborhoods to note the planning committee will focus on efforts to reach into neighborhoods to secure venues for DNC activities which will showcase Milwaukee as a city of neighborhoods.
“It’s going to be more than a four-day convention,” Crump added. “A lot of activities will be taking place even before people arrive.”
Anyone wanting to learn more about registration or certification should go online to: @milwau-kee2020.org