By Dylan Deprey
Students who have walked through the doors of Silver Spring Elementary School on Milwaukee’s north side will be greeted by a different set of white lettering on the front of their building this year. As the fresh crop of Kindergarteners starts their adventure in education they will be the first class to attend the Marvin Pratt Elementary School.
Pratt was the first African American Mayor of Milwaukee. He also snagged another first in being one of the few to actually have a school named after them while still being alive.
Pratt, his family, the community and elected officials all gathered in the Marvin Pratt Elementary School gymnasium on Friday July 15, to celebrate Pratt’s past as well as his future contributions to the school.
While the task of getting a school named after oneself while still alive is a tough task, Pratt’s resume can show for it. He is an Air Force Veteran, Marquette graduate, former alderman, Milwaukee Common Council President. Pratt also served three months as acting mayor in 2004 and as interim Milwaukee County Executive in 2011.
Mayor Tom Barrett acknowledged Pratt for his many efforts on doing work in his community even after spotlight of being a public figure faded.
“He was never interested because of the power or the prestige, but because he loves his community and he never left his city. He stayed to contribute for many, many years,” Barrett said. “This is a man who did public service for all the right reasons.”
Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton knows that Pratt family all to well as he went to law school with his son Michael Pratt and got around town with both of the family vehicles. Hamilton described witnessing the community meetings that would occur in the Pratt’s living room.
“I did not have an ambition to go into public office. We wanted to save the world but not like that,” Hamilton said. “But he made me realize the power and influence that you could use this office for.”
Hamilton along with other speakers all noted Pratt’s uncanny way of remembering every detail of every conversation with a concerned community member.
“Don’t walk up to him and say you had a neighborhood problem because he’ll remember your address, your kid’s names, and the last time he was in the neighborhood so you better have had your grass cut and garbage taken out,” Hamilton said.
Pratt’s twin sister Marielle Pratt described living in one of the worst crime-ridden housing projects in Dallas, Texas. She added that their mother would teach them or read to them before they even left out the door for school.
“We knew how to do certain things before we went to school and I think that having that at home jump started the learning process,” Pratt said.
“I think the significance of education has played a big part in our lives,” Pratt said.
Marvin Pratt said how grateful he was for the opportunity to help provide the 200 children with the necessities to maintain a good education in school and out of school. It is a year-round school schedule so the students will be walking through the doors on August 1st.
“This is a good school and we can make it a great school,” Pratt said.
Sen. Lena Taylor also noted how she looked up to Pratt as she grew up following in his footsteps. She said that he was the perfect person to have a school named after him.
“You have schooled us on not only how to be a servant, a servant leader, but you schooled us on how to show love in a community that is in need and have given us shoulders to stand on and we stand tall because of you,” Taylor said.