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28 Days of Black History

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.

A photo of Milwaukee Courier

Milwaukee Courier

Est. 1964; the oldest African-American-focused weekly newspaper of the three in the city; Owned by Courier Communications, which also owns radio station WNOV.

A photo of Milwaukee Community Journal

Milwaukee Community Journal

The Milwaukee Community Journal is the largest African-American-owned and-operated newspaper in Wisconsin and one of three in Milwaukee. The MCJ has been a strong advocate of academic excellence since its inception in 1976.

A photo of Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick is a former quarterback of the National Football League. He played with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2016. He is known for his civil rights activism, expressed by kneeling during the national anthem prior to games as a protest against racial injustice and systematic oppression, especially of African Americans. He was born in Milwaukee in 1987.

A photo of Grant Gordon

Grant Gordon

First Lt. Grant Gordon, leader of the 320th Battalion was the only African American in his officer training class. After the war, Gordon settled in Milwaukee, where he and his wife, Lucinda, raised two children. He was the first African American school principal in MPS, where he worked for 35 years. He was active in the Urban League served as president of the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP.

A photo of Howard Fuller

Howard Fuller

Dr. Howard Fuller is a distinguished professor of education and both founder and director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University.  He is board chair and cofounder of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. From 1991 to 1995, Howard Fuller served as superintendent of MPS.

A photo of City Treasurer Spencer Coggs

Spencer Coggs

After a long term of service in the WI Assembly and Senate, Spencer Coggs became the first African-American to be elected Milwaukee City Treasurer (and first African-American elected to any city executive branch office).

A photo of Henry Hank Aaron

Henry "Hank" Aaron

Baseball legend who played for both Milwaukee Braves and Brewers; his Chasing the Dream Foundation awards scholarships through the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and UW-Madison; State Trail namesake.

A photo of Glorious Malone

Glorious Malone

Glorious Malone was a food industry entrepreneur in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood, along with her husband George and her father Sterling Williams. They started out by opening a grocery store together in 1961 that specialized in produce from the American south and featured George’s personal recipe for headcheese, which differed greatly from the European-style headcheese that was common around the city. After George’s death in 1971, Glorious incorporated the business as Malone’s Fine Sausage, Inc. She was the first African American woman in the U.S. to obtain meat inspection accreditation from the USDA and to own and run a federally inspected plant. After Glorious died in 2007, her daughter Daphne Jones added her mother’s first name to the company name.

A photo of Shirley J. Lanier

Shirley J. Lanier

Shirley J. Lanier is one of three co-founders of Legacy Bank, which was the only bank in the country organized and run by African American women. Beginning in 1999, it provided financial services and business loans to Milwaukee’s central city until the economic downturn forced its sale to Seaway Bank in 2011.

A photo of Margaret Henningsen

Margaret Henningsen

Margaret Henningsen is one of three co-founders of Legacy Bank, which was the only bank in the country organized and run by African American women. Beginning in 1999, it provided financial services and business loans to Milwaukee’s central city until the economic downturn forced its sale to Seaway Bank in 2011. Committed to social causes, she also worked at the Social Development Commission and the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee, retiring as its executive director in 2016.

A photo of Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes

The first African American to serve as Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor and only the second to be elected to a statewide office. (The first was Vel Phillips, who was elected Secretary of State in 1978.) He represented the 11th Assembly District in the state legislature from 2013-2017, and was defeated in a race for state Senate in 2016. Before his career as an elected official he worked as an organizer for Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (M.I.C.A.H.).

A photo of Willie Perkins, Sr.

Willie Perkins, Sr.

Started Mr. Perkins Family Restaurant, a Milwaukee culinary institution, along with his wife Hilda. The restaurant, known for its soul food menu, opened in 1969, and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019. Its customers come from around the city to share good food and conversation, and it has also attracted a number of celebrities such as Danny Glover and Michael Jordan.

Photo of Rep. Kalan Haywood

Rep. Kalan Haywood

Represents the 16th District in the Wisconsin Assembly. Elected in November 2018, the 19-year-old Cardinal Stritch University student is the youngest legislator in the state and perhaps the country. During his high school years he served on Milwaukee’s Youth Council and was elected President of that body for his last two years before he graduated in 2017.

Photo of Francis Brock-Starms

Frances Brock Starms

Frances Brock Starms was an educator, writer and poet, and began working for the Milwaukee Public Schools in 1950. She was one of only several living persons after whom a Milwaukee Public School has been named, and there are actually three that bear her name: Starms Early Childhood Center, Starms Monumental Baptist Early Childhood Center, and Starms Discovery Learning Center. During her teaching career, she became the first African American to be appointed as director of the Head Start Program. After her retirement, she remained a strong advocate for the educational success of all children. She received numerous awards and citations and her writings have been published in numerous local publications. Her poems express the richness and enduring strength of the African-American heritage.

Photo of Dr. William Edward Finlayson

Dr. William Edward Finlayson

Milwaukee obstetrician and gynecologist. He established is own private practice in Milwaukee in 1958, which he ran for forty years until 1997. He also taught at the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin Medical School. In 1971, Finlayson founded the first black-owned bank in Milwaukee, North Milwaukee State Bank where he serves on the board of directors and is the bank’s chairman. In founding the bank, Finlayson’s mission was not profit based. Rather, he intended to add stature and viability to underserved communities by offering full-service banking to individuals and businesses. North Milwaukee State Bank’s mission is to facilitate community development and economic growth, personal and business advancement, home ownership growth, and financial education. Finlayson is also a member of the Urban League and a lifetime member of the NAACP.

Photo of Deloris Sims 

Deloris Sims

One of three co-founders of Legacy Bank, which was the only bank in the country organized and run by African American women. Beginning in 1999, it provided financial services and business loans to Milwaukee’s central city until the economic downturn forced its sale to Seaway Bank in 2011. Legacy Bank opened in a former Firstar Bank building where Sims had worked for most of her career up to that point, and she was Legacy’s first president and CEO.

A photo of Clayborn Benson

Clayborn Benson

Founded the Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum in 1987. He currently serves as the organization’s Executive Director. The Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum is the only institution in the state that collects and preserves African-American history specific to Wisconsin. Benson also worked at WTMJ-TV as a photojournalist for 39 years.

A photo of Carolyn Stanford Taylor 

Carolyn Stanford Taylor

Appointed the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in January 2019, succeeding Tony Evers after his election as governor. She is the first African American to hold that post in Wisconsin, and previously was the first female African American to serve as an assistant State Superintendent. In her earlier career at the Madison Metropolitan School District, she became the first African American President of the local teachers union.


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