By Karen Stokes
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin met with over a dozen Milwaukee faith based and community leaders to discuss critical issues important to the African American community.
These leaders understand the needs of their community and came forth to voice their concerns and offer potential solutions to improve the quality of life for the people in their community.
Rev. Walter J. Lanier hosted the meeting at Progressive Baptist Church, 8324 W Keefe Ave, providing a safe haven for open discussions on healthcare, Democratic Party initiatives for the African American community, communication challenges, gun control, the upcoming 2024 presidential election and many other topics.
Baldwin spent time actively listening to the concerns of the community leaders. She took notes as each attendee was speaking.
The meeting featured a roundtable discussion with attendees. Among them were State Senator La Tonya Johnson, 6th Senate District, Minister Greg Lewis, Souls to the Polls, Reverend Rodney Campbell, Crossing Jordan Ministries, Pastor Steve Tipton, El- Bethel Church of God in Christ, Pastor Martin Childs, Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Joseph Jackson, Friendship Baptist Church, Pastor Dr. Richard Shaw, St. Matthew C.M.E. Church, Lisa Jones, Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), Sister Shirley T. Wilks-Gladney, Progressive Baptist Church Civic Engagement Lead, Sister Donna Brown, Progressive Baptist Church Civic Engagement Lead, and Elder Jim Addison, Greater Philadelphia Church of God In Christ.
Despite being in a room full of supporters, the group offered critical feedback to the senator. Some expressed that the African American community isn’t getting the economic boost it needs under the Biden administration.
Baldwin expressed her advocacy for Buy American policies, emphasizing the importance of directing US tax dollars towards supporting American jobs, workers, and small businesses.
Because of the success of the Infrastructure bill, the Chips and Science bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, there are jobs coming back. Unfortunately some are not necessarily in the African American community.
“My dream is to get a huge new anchor business in Century City,” Baldwin said. “We were proud to open a minority business development center in Milwaukee. We were relying on centers in Chicago. That changed earlier this year.”
Healthcare was a major focus of the conversation.
The disparity of healthcare in African American communities has always been an issue and the pandemic shined a light on that fact. There’s also disparity due to access to good jobs within these communities.
“I want to shout out Milwaukee County for being the first community in the nation to declare racism as a public health crisis. I don’t think people make that connection,” Baldwin said.
An additional concern raised was about the leadership style of President Biden, with some expressing the belief that the Democratic Party falls short in serving the Black community adequately. Many are pondering ways to alter this narrative.
Lanier expressed his opinion that Democrats are getting beat in the communications game.
“When I’m looking for a listing of the Biden victories and successes, I most often see them periodically on Facebook, I may not be looking in the right places,” Lanier said. “I’m not saying that they’re not there, I’m just saying they’re not readily visible and available.”
Baldwin did acknowledge that the Republicans use the media very effectively.
Additionally, there’s a need for increased visibility of the Milwaukee Democratic office. A participant pointed out the presence of a Republican Party office on King Drive in the African American community but many attendees were unaware of a Democratic office located at 84th and Lisbon.
Baldwin explained that the stakes are very high in the 2024 election, she believes it may possibly be a rematch between Trump and President Biden.
“Next year it’s going to be about which side is energized,” she said.