I used to use brown paper bags to cover all my textbooks at the start of each school year. Then I’d label them with a thick black marker, complete with a hand-drawn flower and hearts. My skirts hung well below my knees. And when I was called upon by my teacher to solve a problem on the blackboard, dust from the chalk tickled my nose and coated my fingertips.

I enjoyed nearly every subject in school, especially science, math and English. The class that bored me was history. I know those who fail to learn history are condemned to repeat it. I know! But hear me out. I never saw anyone who resembled me in those history books. In February we briefly learned about Dr. King. Still, I never saw the Nubian kings and queens my family taught me about. I craved more lessons about people who looked like me.

The highlights of my school days were being around my friends. My confidants. You know, the ones who made you laugh out loud when it was dead silence in the classroom. And those comrades who knew all about beauty tips for making one look older. We’d slather Vaseline petroleum jelly on our lips to appear like lip gloss and take a pencil liner and dot our face to create the illusion of a black beauty mark. Those were the days.

I was fortunate enough to share laughs and hugs with some of those same friends during a recent class reunion. Times have changed, but the hearts of many of those childhood friends remain golden.

Speaking of golden hearts, many in greater Dane County and beyond know the name Leotha Stanley. Friends call him Lee. The Milwaukee native who’s lived in Madison for nearly five decades has worn many hats. The Badger’s record-setting track and field athlete has served as a firefighter/paramedic, a piano teacher, an insurance salesman, an employment specialist, an author, a composer, and a gospel phenom. Like the Hamilton lyrics exclaim, the man is Non-Stop!

Recently, he was named UMOJA’s Director of Operations & Advertising. What a blessing to the magazine staff and UMOJA supporters. He will oversee the day-to-day production of this beloved publication and run all advertising, marketing and subscription initiatives.

“I’ve been in the pages of UMOJA Magazine several times since its inception some 30 years ago. It’s come full circle and it’s great to be on this side of production. I’m always turning the pages in the chapters of my life. I want to always stay relevant and not be home just watching Netflix,” Lee told the UMOJA Board of Directors shortly after accepting his position.

With deep roots across multiple communities, Lee said “I love to share my experience and talents with others. Working in this position, I get to showcase others’ experiences and talents as well. I hope to make Milele proud as I help take UMOJA to the next level.”

I know Mother Milele  ̶  the beloved founder of UMOJA Magazine  ̶  is wrapping her heavenly arms around you and smiling.

Help us in congratulating, Lee! 

Those looking to advertise in UMOJA, renew subscriptions or sign up to receive the magazine can email Lee at Lstanley@umojamagazine.com. He can also be reached on his office phone at 608.729.1261.