By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Urban League celebrated 100 years of “empowering communities and changing lives.” The celebration took place during the organization’s 60th annual Equal Opportunity Day luncheon.
This year’s luncheon, titled Closing a 100 Year Chapter from Opening Doors to Expanding Horizons, discussed the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and recognized the accomplishments of several Milwaukee persons and entities for their social, economic and educational impact in the community.
The highest award presented each year, is the Whitney M. Young Jr. Legacy Award. During the luncheon, the award was presented to Mike Gousha and MacArthur “Mac” Weddle. Gousha, who formerly worked as an anchor for WISN-12, received the award for his efforts in shedding light on diverse issues. Weddle, the former executive director of Northcott Neighborhood House, was well-known for his work in the community especially with young kids. He was also the driving force behind Milwaukee’s Juneteenth Day celebration.
The other honorees include GE Healthcare for corporate support, Bader Philanthropies for philanthropic leadership, State Rep. Kalan Haywood II for Be The Change Emerging Leadership, Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals for Young Professionals on the Move – 20 year celebration, M-Cubed (UW-Milwaukee, MATC and MPS) for education and Donsia Strong Hill for economic development. In addition to the awards, the Milwaukee Urban League made a special announcement. Jim Strack, a Milwaukee Urban League board member and vice president and general manager for Enterprise Holdings in Wisconsin, said that this year, the League had a special fundraising goal.
In honor of 100 years, the goal was $1 million dollars, which it reached, and next year’s will be even bigger, Strack said.
As the final part of the luncheon, Dr. Eve Hall, president of the league, held a panel on the 2020 DNC with Liz Gilbert, Lafayette Crump, Jim Milner, Nikki Purvis and Peggy Williams-Smith.
Gilbert, who is the president for the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, said that the DNC is not just about four days downtown. There’s the planning phase, the week of and the election in November, she said.
She said this year, some things are going to be done differently. For one Milwaukee organizers created a committee, which will focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The DNC has also partnered with MPS to provide mentors to students.
“This convention is about the future of this community,” she said.
Crump, the vice president of Diversity, Vendor Accountability and Growth for the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, emphasized that the DNC wants local businesses involved. He noted that the goal is to have a diverse group of suppliers working together.
Jim Milner, a master strategy coach for Sector Management Consulting Group, said the host committee isn’t striving for diversity because it’s the right thing to do, but because diversity is necessary and because that’s where innovation lives.
Milner noted that often minorities find out about opportunities after they’re gone or in the middle of planning, this is not the case with the DNC. The work to get involved is happening now, he said.
“Yes, we’re coordinating this event but we’re expecting you to stand up,” he said.
For more information on the Milwaukee Urban League, go to tmul.org.