In the words of the famous “negro” sanger, Sly Stone…”Everybody is a star!”
(Pic to left: Cordelia Taylor and her daughter Dinah)
But some people literally helped shape black Milwaukee and the Living Legacy Awards are intended to recognize these individuals and their contributions. Fourteen deserving members of Milwaukee’s African American community were honored by Milwaukee Common Council members with “Living Legacy Awards” during the city’s Inaugural Black History Program on Friday.
Council members Milele A. Coggs, Chantia Lewis, Ashanti Hamilton, Russell W. Stamper, II, Khalif J. Rainey and Cavalier Johnson presented the awards to the recipients in front of a crowd of hundreds that participated in the Inaugural Black History Program, the culmination of the city’s efforts to recognize the local legacy of Black History Month.
This years recipients were:
· Spencer Coggs—Spencer Coggs is the longest-serving African American elected public official in the State of Wisconsin. He was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1982 and re-elected until 2002. He was again elected in 2003 to the State Senate in a special election and re-elected in 2004 and 2008. Mr. Coggs was elected Milwaukee City Treasurer in the Spring 2012 election and re-elected in 2016, bringing his total years of service to 35.
· Cordelia Taylor—A registered nurse and experienced nursing home administrator, Cordelia Taylor started Family House out of concern for the way most of the community’s elderly were treated in traditional nursing facilities. With the strong support and involvement of her family, she created an institution that is not just a long-term care program, but a hub for revitalizing the community.
· Deborah Tatum—Born in Milwaukee in 1955, Deborah Tatum began her activism in childhood, marching for fair housing and other causes with Fr. Groppi of St. Boniface Church. She served as an activist in her community throughout her life and kept others informed on important political issues. Ms. Tatum opened a child care center, worked with children and families for more than 15 years and advocated for other child care center owners.
· Edward Montgomery—A longtime employee at Pabst Brewing Company, Edward Montgomery played an active role in the civil rights movement as a union leader and community activist, advocating for fair housing. He has been a key spiritual leader in his church, serving as a deacon and using musical ministry in community outreach efforts. He established the Long-Way Round Scholarship Program, which has provided scholarships to 98 central city and college-bound MPS graduates, and now continues with prison and nursing home ministry.
· McArthur “Mac” Weddle—Northcott Neighborhood House Executive Director McArthur Weddle is a product of the community he now serves. Known as “Mac” in the neighborhood, he has helped organize local programs including Juneteenth Day, the Black Expo, Spirit of the Men Conference, African World Festival and Community Call to Vote. As the Executive Director of Northcott Neighborhood House, he shares his energy with everyone, especially young people.
· Mother Annie Naomi Scott—Known lovingly as Mother Scott, Annie Naomi Scott was a successful business owner who was involved in and cared deeply for the Milwaukee community. In 1974 she opened the Scott Christian Youth Fellowship and Recreational Center, which provided summer youth recreation programs, daily hot meals, an emergency food pantry, a clothing bank, counseling services, Bible study, arts, crafts and music programs. Mother Scott was deeply spiritual and has been recognized often for her service to the community.
· Dr. Lester Carter—Dr. Lester Carter has been a pillar in the Milwaukee community since opening his pharmacy, Carter Drug Store, at 2400 W. Burleigh St. in 1968, serving members of the community for nearly 50 years. Dr. Carter, beloved for his patient and gentle nature, treated each of his patients with respect and courtesy during their private consultations, and lines of people often formed to seek Dr. Carter out for his advice and expertise.
· Brandon Pope—Named the Boys and Girls Club of Milwaukee’s Youth of the Year, Brandon Pope is a junior at Messmer High School who was chosen as an ambassador for the club in recognition of the difference he makes in in his community. He has an impressive record of academic accomplishments, with a course load of all honors and AP classes and a ranking of fifth in his class, and plans to study psychology at Florida State University next fall. Mr. Pope enjoys running track and volunteering with young people at the Jewish Community Center.
· Cherrye Trotman—Cherrye Trotman dedicated her career to service work with Milwaukee’s young people, teaching at MPS for 36 years. She was recognized as Teacher of the Year in 1976. As a member and leader of many nonprofit organizations, such as the Business and Professional Women’s Club, NAACP Milwaukee and Girl Scouts of America, Ms. Trotman played an active role in the community and earned many leadership and volunteer awards.
· Kathie Walker—Ms. Walker has served as the club manager of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee since 2014, where she manages daily operations, the annual budget and staff hiring and training. Ms. Walker is also active in community service. She has volunteered with the American Red Cross’s Disaster Action Team since 2014, identifying the needs of local disaster victims and providing resources and temporary shelter, and in 2005, she helped Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Milwaukee access temporary housing.
· Neva Hill—In her five years as the Community Development Director and Community Liaison for the Woodlands Resource Center, Neva Hill has led efforts to revitalize the Woodlands neighborhood on the Northwest side of Milwaukee. By strengthening relationships among landlords, tenants and homeowners, building partnerships with organizations like the Hunger Task Force, hosting a variety of neighborhood events and promoting resident leadership and problem-solving, Ms. Hill is helping to transform the 576-unit complex and the surrounding neighborhood.
· Erica Lofton—A member of the City of Milwaukee Youth Council, Ms. Erica Lofton is founder and CEO of Girls in Action, Inc., a charity that promotes self-esteem and leadership for young girls. She conducts workshops, delivers keynotes and has appeared at speaking engagements that are aligned with her mission. Erica was invited to the White House to receive the Champion of Change Award, and attends the University School of Milwaukee, where she serves as Freshman Class Representative, and a member of the basketball and track teams. She hopes to one day attend Stanford University and pursue a career in Psychology or Law.
· Marvin Pratt—A longtime member of the Milwaukee Common Council from 1986 to 2004, Marvin Pratt served as the Common Council President, and in 2004, he became the first African-American to serve as Milwaukee Mayor. He is the only person in history to serve as both Mayor and Milwaukee County Executive, and he is the namesake for Milwaukee Public Schools’ Marvin E. Pratt Elementary School.
· Dianne Pratt—The former First Lady of Milwaukee and the wife of Marvin Pratt, Dianne Pratt has lived in Milwaukee since the age of three. While playing an important role in supporting Marvin’s success engaging the community, Dianne served for decades as a librarian for the Milwaukee Public Library and the Milwaukee Public Schools. Her efforts to engage children in arts and crafts and her role as a storyteller have been an important part of community events.
…Clap for em!