It’s hard to believe that one year is already being left behind, and another is here. For everyday Americans, 2010 had many challenges. For African Americas those same challenges were in many cases doubled.
In Milwaukee, and specifically for African Americans unfortunately there were too many businesses that had to close their doors. Stella’s Restaurant, The Bayou, and Manna House three of Black Milwaukee’s premier eating establishments were victims of the poor economy and in the case of The Bayou road construction challenges forced its doors to close. The Humboldt Bridge construction met many unforeseen challenges that affected traffic leading directly to this restaurant and others in the area, more than a year of this challenge forced the business and some others in the area to close. And even the longstanding Perkins Family Restaurant has reduced its days of operation.
We also lost some giants in our community, the deaths of C.C. Henderson, the late president/CEO of Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. (MHSI); Pastor Benjamin Nabors, of the Great Faith Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, who also hosted his own radio program for many years on WNOV entitled ‘Good Nabor’; Jori LeFlore lost her battle with Leukemia in 2009 passed on Feb. 10, 2010 in Milwaukee. Lefore was 12 years-old; Rev. Lucius Walker, founder of Northcott Neighborhood House who left Milwaukee and became a nationally renowned pastor and activist died at the age of 80 years-old on Sept. 7, 2010 and also in that same week Lester Kern, a nationally recognized cartoonist and artist who began his career in Milwaukee at The Milwaukee Courier Newspaper, and went on to share his talent of editorial illustrations with other newspapers across the country as well as original religious inspired artwork died in Atlanta, where he had settled at the age of 55 years-old.
Among some of the not so pleasant events of 2010 was the conflict that hit its peek with the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP. The conflict mostly from former members and their attacks on the administration of Jerry Ann Hamilton led to the national office issuing suspensions, and ordering a election that required the personal monitoring of representatives from the national office. The election results left the organization with a new head in leadership, Atty. James Hall (Hamilton retired) defeated Hamilton’s endorsed candidate, Wendell Harris. Harris has agreed to continue to be an active member of the organization and to be supportive of the new administration after a emotional and often negative campaign practices.
In the political arena for Milwaukee, the city will need to find a way to work with the newly elected Republican legislature and governor in Madison. Under the leadership of Governor Jim Doyle and a Democratic led legislature, Milwaukee maintained some sort of significance even in the challenging economy. Unfortunately, a setback has already occurred with the cancellation of the high speed rail project despite the tremendous support from the community. This setback has also led to the newly renovated Tower Site and Talgo Train Manufacturing company making plans to scale back its future in Milwaukee. This project was a bright hope for Milwaukee’s inner city, the former site of A.O. Smith, a manufacturing plant that most African American families in Milwaukee had at least one family member who had worked there and retired from there.
Now, all of the news was not dismal in 2010. Local urban farmer Will Allen, president/ CEO of Growing Power made national headlines and several visits to the White House helping to educate the first lady Michelle Obama on urban farming and working with her on her child obesity program. Allen was also honored with being named one of Time 100: The World’s Most Influential People. His mission is aimed at educating people on urban farming and becoming more aware of green based technology.
Going ‘green’ and learning about ‘green’ related technology is going to be even more important and relevant as ever. Future jobs and opportunities are going to be in these fields. It will also be beneficial in our health, and disease prevention. Whatever comes in 2011, it will be essential that the African American community become more engaged. The days of waiting for someone else to do it are over. We will need to support our own businesses, and take control of our education and the education of our children. Let’s do more than just yell out ‘Happy New Year’ on January 1, let’s get busy and support one another when and where every we can.