28 Days of
February is Black History Month, and in many ways, that history is still being written today. Throughout this month, several key Milwaukee Black History makers will be profiled on the City of Milwaukee website’s main page. The prominent online spot will give students and Milwaukeeans across the city a chance to learn about – and to honor – some of the city’s notable and unsung heroes.
President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, also a member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee and the Milwaukee Cultural and Entertainment Task Force.
Mildred and Reuben Harpole
Education advocates, “community connectors”; honorary street namesake (Reuben).
Ardie and Wilbur Halyard
Co-founded Columbia Savings & Loan to help African-Americans purchase homes; Halyard St., Halyard Park neighborhood namesakes.
Clarence and Cleopatra Johnson
Opened one of Milwaukee’s first African-American-owned businesses (Ideal Tailor Shop); helped found a branch of the YMCA and Columbia Savings & Loan; Johnson’s Park namesakes.
In 1946, became the first African-American MPD policewoman; not allowed to return to the MPD after the birth of her first child in 1955, she later became a probation officer with the Children’s Court.
NAACP Youth Council
Founded in 1947 by Ardie Halyard; in the 1960s, organized and participated in civil rights demonstrations against job discrimination and for fair housing.
Gwen T. Jackson
Chair Emeritus of the American Red Cross, Southeast Wisconsin; also active with the YWCA and Milwaukee Urban League; MPS School namesake.
The Andersons, William H., his wife, Anne Watson Anderson, and their daughter Emily, are considered the first African-American family to settle permanently in Milwaukee. More Watsons (Anne’s parents and siblings) followed. Mabel Watson Raimey was a descendent of Anne’s brother, William.
Born in Milwaukee in 1940, graduated from Ripon College in 1962; award-winning singer who recorded jazz, pop, and R&B songs and won six Grammys across all three categories; best known for the 1981 hit “We’re in This Love Together” and the theme song from the hit TV series “Moonlighting”.
Unofficial “historian” and griot of Milwaukee’s African-American community, compiling over 60 years’ worth of newsclippings, photographs, and letters chronicling African-American life in the city; awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Human Letters from UW-Milwaukee in 2015 in recognition of her life’s work.
Lynching survivor; civil rights activist; assisted in protests to end segregated housing in the city of Milwaukee; founder of America’s Black Holocaust Museum (1988), devoted to African-American history from slavery to the present.
Ferne Yangyeitie Caulker-Bronson
Founder of Milwaukee’s internationally renowned Ko-Thi Dance Company; Professor Emerita of Dance at UW-Milwaukee.
Growing Power CEO; 2008 MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” winner for his work on urban farming and sustainable food production; awarded an honorary Doctor of Agriculture degree from UW-Milwaukee in 2012; expert in urban agriculture.
America's Black Holocaust Museum
Founded by James Cameron; opened on Juneteenth day, 1988, closed July 31, 2008, online virtual museum launched February 25, 2012. A new physical museum space will be constructed as part of a redevelopment project with the Garfield School Building, 2215 N. 4th St.
Beechie O. Brooks
Well-known real estate developer, one of a group of black realtors to form United Realty and served as its president; helped create and develop the Halyard Park subdivision; was one of the first minorities in Milwaukee to be accepted to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers; awarded the first Frank Fitzpatrick Development Award by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
First woman and first African-American on Common Council; first African-American judge in Wisconsin and first to win statewide office (Sec. of State); Main sponsor of the city’s open housing ordinance and active in civil rights marches.
Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum
Founded by Clayborn Bension and opened in 1987 with the mission of documenting and preserving the history of African Americans in the State of Wisconsin; became an affiliate of the State Historical Society in 1988.
Annette Polly Williams
The longest-serving female in the Wisconsin State Assembly (10 terms from 1980–2011); known as the “Mother of school choice”.
Milwaukee radio and TV journalist for over 25 years, best known for his morning program “The Eric Von Show” on WNOV 860 AM; also worked for the local NPR station, WUWM 89.7 FM, and was a co-host for Milwaukee Public Television’s “Black Nouveau” and WISN 12’s “It’s Your Vote”.
Economic development icon of Milwaukee’s central city; former director of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation, which has made significant contributions to the revitalization of the Harambee neighborhood; also a professor of architecture at UW-Milwaukee.