I found America's Black Holocaust Museum soon after moving to the Milwaukee area six years ago. I was driving north on Interstate 43 when I saw a sign for it just before the North Avenue exit. The museum was indeed an eye opener--the exhibits, the story of museum founder Dr. James Cameron, the museum staff, the spirit of acceptance, understanding and reconciliation. I was taken by it all and joined on the spot. The employees and volunteers welcomed me into their community and they became part of my community.
My husband went with me on my next visit. He not only joined, he became a volunteer--a griot, which is a West African word for story teller. In doing so, he became a student, learning as much from the groups of students and adults who visited the museum as he hoped they learned from the exhibits and the stories of Africans, the Middle Passage, African-American heroes, Wisconsin's African-American pioneers and of Dr. Cameron himself, the only known American to survive a lynching. An average of 25,000 people--black, white, brown, all hues--from this country and abroad visited the museum annually and learned about the need for and importance of racial understanding and respect.
My husband spent every Thursday there helping out, conducting tours and learning. We both attended educational meetings, academic lectures, Juneteenth celebrations, documentary screenings and many other events during the ensuing years. We also made modest monetary contributions, as did others. But sporadic donations wasn't enough.
As reported in Wednesday's Journal-Sentinel, the museum closed on Thursday, at least temporarily. My husband spent that last day helping to dismantle, pack up and prepare the exhibits for a move to a storage area UWM is providing.
We feel like a hole has been ripped in our lives. Like a dear friend has died. That's how we felt when Dr. Cameron died a little more than two years ago at age 92. That was 76 years after a hot August night in 1930 when two of 16-year-old James Cameron's acquaintances were hanged from a tree near the courthouse in Marion, Indiana, in retaliation for the shooting death of a town resident, and a noose had also been placed around Cameron's neck. It was a crime Cameron vowed he had nothing to do with. Years later he moved to Milwaukee and in 1988 founded the museum in the basement of his home as a memorial to lynching victims, and as an institution for race-relations enlightenment. The museum was more than a monument to what had happened to Cameron. It was unique, a community treasure. It offered an opportunity to explore the racial perceptions people of all ethnicities hold, and to advance healing and reconciliation.
The museum was always a hand-to-mouth operation. A major benefactor, Marty Stein, died just a few months before Dr. Cameron's passing and the museum never regained even the shaky financial footing it had previously had. It wasn't for the lack of heroic efforts of at least three people: Reggie Jackson, who coordinated and educated the griots for the past few years and took over as board of directors' chair late last year; Cory Joe Biddle, the director from August 2005 to last October, and Bethany Criss, who assumed Biddle's duties when Biddle resigned. Each shouldered the duties almost single-handedly, doing yeoman's work, devoting countless hours, writing grants, searching for funding and struggling to keep the doors open. But it was more than a one-person job. It takes the dedication of a community to keep the spirit, mission and day-to-day operation of such an institution going. It also takes funding. A reliable, ongoing source of funding like an endowment provides. And it needs the oversight, commitment and active participation of motivated directors who can and will use their connections to support and enable such a vital element of the community to thrive.
The community of which I speak isn't just Milwaukee's north side around 4th Street and North Avenue where Cameron moved the museum to in 1994. It isn't just the city of Milwaukee or the greater Milwaukee area. It is the community of humankind, people from all over Wisconsin, from other states and from other countries for whom Cameron established the museum and who visited it, and who will visit it again if the community will rally and rescue it just as Dr. Cameron himself was saved from the noose on that August night 78 years ago.
If that happens, then the sign on I-43 won't have to be taken down and can again direct visitors to the museum.
If this next post doesn't make me stand out from the rest of the Bay View blogs page, nothing will….
I've always liked to describe myself as a political moderate, and for good reason; I've voted Republican and Democrat on an almost equal basis over the years. In any objective sense this would still be more or less a fair characterization, but as our sadly polarized country has forgotten how to spell the words "moderate", "centrist" and "objective" (among others) I figured I'd best simplify for the red-state/blue-state crowd.
Would you like to improve your health by walking and help reduce poverty at the same time? If you answered "yes" you are in luck because the St. Vincent de Paul Society will be holding their First Annual FRIENDS OF THE POOR --WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES walk.
The walk is being held on Saturday, Sept. 27th and starts at the St. Francis Seminary at 3257 S Lake Drive, St. Francis. Registration begins at 9 am and the walk begins at 11 am. The entire community is invited to attend and to walk in this event. If you would like to be involved but aren't up for the walk you can volunteer. 100% of the proceeds raised will benefit low-income people, the homeless and individuals and families dealing with a crisis. You will also help raise awareness of the challenges faced by the nations poor.
There are things no one told me when we decided to have kids. One of these things is how difficult it can be to say no.
Last week, someone made a point of telling me that my children "are not the center of the universe". Anyone who knows me will tell you that I consider myself, first and foremost, to be a devoted dad. Needless to say, I didn't get it.
As I took a vacation day on Friday to drive my kids up to Green Bay to see Lambeau Field and a Wiggles concert, this remark was still ringing in my ears. "Wow," I said to my wife. "Can you imagine being a parent and NOT making your kids the center of your universe?" She couldn't, and neither could I. We both love and cherish our children, and while we don't want or need any validation of why this is so important a choice, on Friday night we got some anyway. In a big way, and at the perfect time.
Here is some sports news you might have missed amid all the drama surrounding the Brett Favre controversy: The University of Wisconsin--Madison women's track team leads the nation with 13 student-athletes on the USTFCCCA all-academic team.
South Milwaukee's very own Irish folk band, the Garlic Mustard Pickers, is busy with private performances this month, but band members are inviting friends and fans to attend a couple of gigs they've got lined up for September.
You can catch them on September 19 (Friday) at Riverkeeper Bash 2008, with Friends of Milwaukee Rivers. Admission is a “cover” donation to FMR.
The “Bash” will be at:
Performance Yacht Services
520 S Water St, Milwaukee
The next day, Saturday, September 20, they will perform at:
There is a ton of news to report this week.
First on the list: Nativity of the Lord Parish is holding their annual outdoor Mass and Picnic on Sunday, Aug. 24th at Sheridan Park. The mass starts at 10:30 am with the picnic to follow. This is always fun for the whole family and a great way to meet some of your neighbors. Father Phil asked me to extend an invitation to anyone who is interested. Are you new to the area or interested in reconnecting with a parish? This would be a great opportunity to meet some great people and learn about NOTL parish.
Did you know that, from your computer, you can email most people with a cell phone number and the email you send appears as a text message on the recipient's phone? This method is, in my opinion, so much easier than trying to squint and type messages directly from a cell phone. (I feel old as I type this!)
Here's a list of all the email formats for cell phone numbers. You just need to know the cell phone company your recipient uses.
Virgin Mobile: firstname.lastname@example.org
US Cellular: email@example.com
Cellular One: firstname.lastname@example.org
Simply, this list is for people who:
- are not completely comfortable using the text messaging feature on their cell phone.
(Me ... sometimes)
- like email more than text messaging.
(Me ... definitely)
- want to send a message to someone - but may not necessarily want to disturb them with a phone call.
(For example: Pick up a pizza - I'm starving, Quit ignoring the phone and come home now!, or You may want to end your meeting soon because we just won the lottery.)
- want to save money on cell phone plans that charge for each text message you send.
- think fingers were not meant to type messages on small phones.
(Me ... again, do I show signs of my age?)
If you are a good republican (conservative) you believe that global warming is a farce, and that there is no scientific evidence to support the claims that the worlds warming has much to do with humans producing carbon gasses.
If you are a good democrat (liberal) you believe that humans, in their industrialization of the earth over the last however many years, are contributing greatly to the accelerated warming of the earth. Here is where the tricky part comes in…. they are both right, and they are both wrong.Yea, I said it…. The OTHER side can actually be right about something. The facts are out there, you just have to be open minded enough to go get them. And not form a partisan source. And by that I mean from actual scientific studies.
A lot of times people fall in to political alignment and just go along with what the others in that party believe, and it doesn’t matter what evidence is out there to support otherwise. They will pick up on something that is either said mistakenly from the other side and key in on that or take it out of context and redistribute it as fact.The earth IS warming. Any debate on that fact is basically non existent. The debate is… Why is it warming?, What is causing it? Is the warming even significant? The fact is, we are still coming out of the last ice age. Therefore by definition, the earth is warming up. It is also true that Mars is also coming out an ice age and it too is experiencing global warming…. Yes, global warming is occurring there without humans.In fact there are studies that suggest that global warming is happening across our solar system. On the other side of the coin, you have to ask yourself “Why are all these scientist saying that we are causing global warming?” Well the answer is both simple and complicated.
You just knew it would happen eventually.
After blogging on-and-off for the better part of two years, and having written a sporadic column on an internet magazine for much of 2002-2003, I finally received my first personal attack today! It was a comment on-- of all things-- my post about the sheer joy of taking my kids to the Wiggles concert. Apparently some people in this world are opposed to the concept of happy children.
Cudahy's football booster club runs an alumni football game every year at about this time. I first learned about this game from the CHS events sign along Lake Drive a few years back, and even then I thought it was a great idea. Having played and coached in South Milwaukee's program, I was a little bit envious: like that classic 7-6 loss where they crushed our playoff hopes in 1990, they'd gone and beaten us again.
Anyhow, at the time I had just stepped away from volunteering as an assistant coach with South Milwaukee's football team, and I mentioned the concept in passing to SM's athletic director. If you know him, you know he's a busy man, and in all likelihood my suggestion immediately got lost beneath a hundred more pressing events. I was probably barking up the wrong tree, though-- something like this would need the blessing of the Booster Club more than anyone. I think it's time someone brings this to their attention. Maybe we can learn a little something form our neighbors to the north.
Here is a site that shows important news regarding the US Olympic Team's Track and Field events:
Three weeks ago
My 4-year old sits on couch and we talk. The subject of babies comes up. Realizing that my son has never been in close proximity of a very pregnant woman and that we've never had this discussion, I explain to him that babies come from a mommy's tummy. He just looks at me. I repeat myself. I tell him that when he was a baby, he was in my tummy. Again he just looks at me. He remains quiet. He then turns his head and stares at the TV playing cartoons.
He waits one minute - then two minutes - and then finally asks, "Mommy - did you EAT ME?"
Two weeks ago
My 4-year old gets a haircut. At the store, for every child haircut, kids received free Hannah Montana posters. Well to the disgust of my 7 year old son who does not like Hannah Montana, my little one asks for a poster. When we arrive home, my 4-year old walks up to me, shows me his new Hannah Montana poster, and tells me that if I am real good and if I clean up my room, then he will give me his poster.
Currently, I'm the proud owner of a Hannah Montana poster.
My 4-year old sees the classroom of his new school. It's form and fee day and the 4K teacher has her room decorated to greet her new young students. My son walks in the room and says hi to his first real teacher. He looks around. He sees the pictures on the walls. He stares at all the toys. Then his eyes open wide when he sees his own name taped to a desk.
My son sits at his new desk and he smiles. "This is my room", he whispers.
10 minutes later
My 4-year old's head is buried in my chest and he's crying. As we walk out the doors of the school, my son cries - not because he wants to go - but because he wants to stay. My son's arms are wrapped around my neck, not because he wants me to continue hugging him, but because in reality he wants to be somewhere else.
At this point, I realize that I'm hugging him tighter!
So I've learned - after these events during the last few weeks (and for that matter during the last months and years) - that as I delight in my youngest son's day-to-day events, he continues to walk ahead - that for every laugh he gives me, I will FOREVER MOURN his growth. And most importantly, I've learned that every time I clean my room, I will think of a Hannah Montana poster - the reward from my son - my reward for being good.
It’s that time of year again—football season—and the first week of Friday night high school games is only a few days away. With that in mind, I’ve decided it’s time to unveil the very first edition of my South Shore Power Rankings! New for this year, I’m going to try and churn one of these out before kickoff time for every week of the season.
Eligible schools are those that play within the geographical area that can be more or less defined as, yes, the “South Shore”. This includes the Woodland Conference trifecta of Cudahy, St. Francis and St. Thomas More; Oak Creek and South Milwaukee from the Southeast Conference; and Bay View from the City Conference. My “poll” is entirely subjective, determined by only one pollster (that’s right, me), and vaguely contrarian in that I’m less likely to elevate any team pumped up by the histrionics of Lance Allan on Today’s TMJ 4.
Hardly seems possible, but it's been six years. Six years since the first of what has become an annual neighborhood picnic. We held the sixth one last weekend in our usual spot in the park just off Parkway Drive. And just about everything was picture perfect – the weather, the neighbors, the food. Although we had a great turnout, if anything was lacking, it was the neighbors who couldn’t or didn’t make it.
An interesting sight in the park that day was the diversity. Of course, it’s well known how diverse the ancestry of our picnickers is – Irish, Polish, Swedish, German, Armenian, and more. Added to that was the pleasure of meeting the kids – well, one is 18, so hardly a kid – of African-American neighbors up the street, and seeing two families whose kids came to play on the nearby playground equipment. The parents of two of the kids were Hispanic and, from the sound of it, spoke little to no English. And it appeared that from the attire of the mother of two other kids that they were Muslim.
Technically, the answer to that question is either Milwaukee (Bay View) or St. Francis, depending on whom you ask. But to judge by the contents of the South Shore NOW weekly I received today, you'd never guess it. It's prep football preview time, but I can't find anything to do with Saint Thomas More High School's football team -- or even Bay View High School's, for that matter.
I understand that the paper operates on a limited budget, that the blogs and story submission features of the website allow users to submit their own stories, etc. (I'll try to do some of that myself when my sons and I drop down to watch a few Cavaliers games this season.) I'm also mindful of the fact that STM's new principal was profiled just last week-- it's not as if they lack coverage. Still, I've received email feedback from readers who've thanked me for mentioning STM sports in light of their continued absence from the South Shore NOW's paper version. I felt obligated for their sake to ask this question publicly.
So today I want to take a break from pointing fingers at the Elephants and the Donkeys and talk about a much more simple idea of how to handle one of our biggest issues in our country.
What if we just put aside our right-left "Team loyalty" for a minute and think about what is the right thing to do.
Friday morning. I say my farewells to the kids and wander outside as usual. I open up my laptop and fire up iTunes because my car stereo was stolen—not to mention the three shattered windows and the glass scattered all over my toddlers’ carseats—right out of our alley a few months ago. Not a great way to supply the music for my daily commute, but it’ll work until I install a replacement. I pull into reverse, back up into the alley… and stop. Cold.
Because now there is graffiti on my garage door.