The Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus held a kickoff event Monday afternoon to celebrate the beginning of Black History Month in Wisconsin.
The event was hosted by caucus chairwoman Rep. Shelia Stubbs, D-Madison, and centered on what Black History month means to varying representatives and members of the community.
Participants included State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor and Secretaries Dawn Crim, Preston Cole and Kevin Carr. Special guests included Vanessa McDowell, also known as “DJ Ace,” Dr. Apostle Bishop Godfrey A. Stubbs, Payton Wade and Prenicia Clifton. Dr. Adeomola Lyi Ewka led the Libation ceremony and Janiya Williams performed Spoken Word.
Rep. Supreme Moore Omokunde, D-Milwaukee, discussed his views on Black History Month.
“It isn’t a celebration of some individualistic milestone some folks might achieve that doesn’t assist and propel masses of Black folks forward, or the watered down, whitewashed version of our ancestors and their legacy repackaged and represented to us as examples of how we should conduct ourselves,” Omokunde said. “It is a celebration of study, of our people and our history. A study that is to take place all year long.”
During the event, Omokunde and the caucus outlined the importance of remembering that Black history is American history. Speakers said that Black history should not only be observed during the month of February, but every month and every day.
In order to promote the study of Black history and the changes that are still necessary to create an equitable and equal world, the caucus will be hosting online events all month long that all Wisconsinites are encouraged to take part in.
Week one will focus on business and entrepreneurship, week two will focus on education, week three will focus on health and mental health awareness and week four will focus on criminal justice.
Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a former member of the caucus, were also in attendance. Barnes spoke on the governor’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“I want to thank Tony Evers for being here … and I mean being here for Black leadership. If you look at the appointments Gov. Evers has made to the cabinet or bench, we absolutely need people who understand the experiences of the Black community in Wisconsin and be able to serve in a position where they can judge with compassion and understanding,” Barnes said.
Barnes said in his closing remarks that advancing the cause of Black Americans means advancing the cause of the whole society.
Also on Monday, Evers announced 30 appointments to his new Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council. The council will assist Evers in creating and promoting the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in Wisconsin’s state government.
Evers also implemented an executive order requiring each state agency to develop an equity and inclusion action plan and requiring the Department of Administration to develop and provide equity and inclusion training for all state agency employees.