Kalvin Barrett Appointed Next Dane County Sheriff, First Black to Role

Wisconsin State Journal

Gov. Tony Evers on April 2 appointed former Dane County sheriff’s deputy Kalvin Barrett as the next sheriff. Barrett, who will become Dane County’s first Black sheriff, will succeed Sheriff Dave Mahoney, who is retiring next month.

Barrett will complete the remainder of Mahoney’s current term, which ends on Jan. 2, 2023. He will inherit several key issues, including a project to add on to the Public Safety Building so that the old jail in the City-County Building can be closed.

Barrett returns to the Sheriff’s Office after having served as a deputy from 2009 to 2011. He was a police officer for the city of Sun Prairie from 2011 to 2016. Currently, he is an officer at Wisconsin State Fair Park and teaches law enforcement and criminal justice at Madison Area Technical College, where he is the faculty director of the criminal justice studies program.

Barrett is also a consultant in the areas of workplace violence and active threat response. And he serves on the Speaker’s Task Force on Racial Disparities, a 32-member task force aimed at addressing racial disparities and policing standards.

In a statement, Barrett thanked Evers for the appointment and said he would continue the collaboration between residents and law enforcement he said has been the foundation of the Sheriff’s Office.

“I am excited to bring to the job my perspective as an African American professional who has experience in the field as a peace officer, in the jail as a sheriff’s deputy, and as someone who has educated and trained the next generation of peace officers.”

Madison-Native Shaka Smart Named Marquette Golden Eagles’ First Black Head Coach


It will be a homecoming of sorts for Madison-native Shaka Smart who will be leaving the University of Texas for a return to the Badger State.

Smart, who graduated from Oregon High School, was officially announced as the Marquette Golden Eagles’ new men’s basketball coach. He is making history by becoming the team’s first Black head coach.

“Maya, Zora and I are absolutely thrilled to join the Marquette family,” Smart said in the release. “I am extremely excited to get to Milwaukee to begin building relationships and getting to work on the court.”

Smart has been in Austin since 2015, racking up a 109-86 record in that time. While he led Texas to an NIT championship in the 2018-19 season, his Longhorn teams never advanced past the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in three appearances, including this year.

The 43-year-old Smart shot to coaching stardom in 2011 when he led Virginia Commonwealth on a Cinderella-run to the Final Four with his special “HAVOC” defense.

He’ll take over from former head coach Steve Wojciechowski, who led Marquette to a 115-81 record before he was fired this March.

82nd Airborne Welcomes First African American Female Brigade Command Sergeant Major

Women continue to make history at North Carolina’s largest U.S. military base, Fort Bragg.

The 82nd Airborne Division welcomed Command Sergeant Major Tonya Sims during a change of responsibility ceremony.

Sims is the first African American woman soldier to serve as the brigade command sergeant major within the division.

She is also the highest-ranking enlisted person in the 82nd Sustainment Brigade.

She now oversees more than 1,700 paratroopers.

15-Year-Old Nigerian Girl Wins Global Open Mathematics 

Black Enterprise

A young Nigerian teenager has recently beat out contestants from around the globe in a mathematics competition.

According to AfroTech, Nigerian student, Faith Odunsi, 15, took part in the Global Open Mathematics competition and emerged victorious as she beat competitors from China, the UK, the US, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia in a global math competition. As the winner of this competition, Odunsi not only walked away with the title, but she has also secured the top prize of $1,000. 

The 15-year-old Odunsi is currently in her final year as a high school student as she is attending the Ambassadors School, Ota Ogun State. Her father is a doctor and her mother is a businesswoman and she attributes her math skills to her father, which she thanks him for.

In an exclusive interview with Punch magazine, Odunsi mentions that she has taken part in numerous competitions that have, in part, prepared her for this latest one. She also spoke of the medals she has won in previous competitions.

“Yes. I have been taking part in the national Olympiad since I was in JSS2. I have also taken part in Kangourou Sans Frontieres, South African mathematics Olympiad, American Mathematics Competition, and Pan-African mathematics Olympiad. For the national Olympiad, I was made the Queen of Mathematics from JSS3 to SS2. For the South African Mathematics Olympiad, I got medals. I got a silver medal in the Pan-African mathematics Olympiad in 2019. I was also made an ambassador of my school.”

She also stated she wants to study abroad.

Spike Lee Makes History as Cannes Film Festival 2021 Jury President

Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee has been named jury president for the annual Cannes Film Festival. This makes Lee not only the first African American to serve as jury president for the storied festival, but also the first person from the African diaspora.

The 2020 Cannes festival – one of the movie industry’s biggest events – was first postponed from May to the end of June, then cancelled. In the end, organizers held a low-key three-day event in October showcasing a range of short films. With COVID-19 still raging in France, the festival has scheduled the 2021 edition for July 6-17 instead of in May as usual.

“For 30 years, the indefatigable Spike Lee has raised the issues of his era…we could not have hoped for a more powerful personality to question these tumultuous times,” Cannes Film Festival President Pierre Lescure said in a statement.

The other members of the jury and the films selected for the program will be announced early June. The 74th Palme d’Or prize will be presented on July 17.

Lee, 63, who made his name in the late 1980s with “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Do the Right Thing” won the Cannes Grand Prix in 2018 with “BlacKkKlansman”. In all, he has had seven films premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, including “Jungle Fever” (1991), “Girl 6” (1996), “Summer of Sam” (1999)  and “Ten Minutes Older” (2002).

Cannes served as a launching pad that took Lee all the way to the Oscars in 2019, where he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Friends Form Country’s First Black-Owned Bread Company in Chicago


They were best friends in high school, they are godparents to each other’s children, and now they are co-founders of The Black Bread Company, which is said to be the first-ever Black-owned bread company in the country. 

“It was just something we felt we had to do,” said Black Bread Company co-founder Jamel Lewis.

The idea grew out of frustration directly related to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police Officer last May.

Mark Edmond was looking to specifically “buy Black,” and during a trip to the grocery store, bread was the first thing on his list.  

“The first thing I started doing was googling all the different brands to try to figure out if it’s Black-owned or at least if it had a Black executive, which I couldn’t find any,” Edmond said.

So, he immediately talked with Lewis and Charles Alexander, and everyone was on board.

“We didn’t want to just get on Instagram and Facebook and just start voicing our opinion, so instead we got busy,” Edmond said.

After extensive research, the three kicked off their business Feb. 1, in time to celebrate Black History Month. Right now, the majority of business is online, but The Dill Pickle in Logan Square and Sugar Beets in Oak Park, also sell their bread.

“Just to be accepted here at Dill Pickle has been an amazing experience so far, said co-owner Lewis. “It’s been about a month, the bread is flying off the shelves, literally we are so appreciative to be in the Logan Square community.”

They are hoping more stores will carry their bread products.

Mickey Guyton Becomes First Black Female Country Artist to Perform on Grammy Awards

Los Angeles Times

Mickey Guyton became the first Black female country artist to perform on music’s highest-profile awards show when she sang her “Black Like Me” at the 63rd Grammy Awards ceremony.

“It’s a hard life on Easy Street / Just white-painted picket fences far as you can see,” she sang, backed by a churchy choir, in the midtempo cut built on stately piano and yearning steel guitar, “If you think we live in the land of the free / You should try to be Black like me.”

Released last summer amid the nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s killing, the song offers a vivid reality check from an artist who’s spoken frankly about the challenges faced by Black artists in the overwhelmingly white world of country music.

Guyton, 37, was nominated with “Black Like Me” for the Grammys’ country solo performance award — as Trevor Noah pointed out in his intro, she was the first Black female solo artist to receive a nod in a country category — but lost to Vince Gill, who took the prize with “When My Amy Prays.” The remaining artists in the category were Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark and Eric Church. Last year Willie Nelson won with “Ride Me Back Home.”

The award for country solo performance dates back only to the 54th Grammys in 2012, when the category was created to combine the trophies for female vocal country performance, male vocal country performance and country instrumental performance. No Black woman ever won (or was nominated for) female vocal country performance.

Guyton grew up in Texas, where her grandmother introduced her to country music. After high school, she moved to Los Angeles and eventually made the connections that led to her being signed by her label, Capitol Nashville, in 2011.

Boys & Girls Club of Dane County Receives $1 million in Youth Sports Equipment from NFL Combine 

The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County (BGCDC) received more than $1 million in Under Armour football, baseball, track cleats and gloves from the NFL combine to distribute to local children. The local organization was chosen for the donation out of 4,000 other clubs throughout the country.

“Our out-of-school programs uniquely support youth to mitigate opportunity gaps and help provide them with the resources and experiences needed to reach their full potential. We are extremely grateful to announce our plans to distribute over $1M in Under Armour Sports Equipment donated by the National Football League Combine,” said Michael Johnson, president & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County.

Through the generosity of Christian Conors, president at Shooter Detection Systems in Boston.; Jim Hartlieb, president of First Business Bank, Madison; an anonymous donor; and Oscar Mireles, executive director of the Omega School, BGCDC partnered with Black Men Coalition of Dane County to transport and deliver the goods to the Allied Family Center. In addition, Conor Caloia, COO of Breese Fields and Tryg Chinander, director of operations were thanks for use of Breese Stevens Field for the press conference and Mini Skills & Drills Clinic. 

For more information about Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County or to donate, visit www.bgcdc.org/donate.

Eric Jerome Dickey: Best-selling U.S. Author Dies at 59


Author Eric Jerome Dickey, whose novels of romance, mystery and adventure were best-selling page-turners over more than 20 years, has died aged 59.

The U.S. writer wrote 30 novels about breathless relationships and thrilling adventures involving young African American characters.

They included Friends & Lovers, Milk In My Coffee, Cheaters and Finding Gideon.

He also wrote a series of Marvel comics about a love story between Storm from the X-Men and the Black Panther.

“His work has become a cultural touchstone over the course of his multi-decade writing career, earning him millions of dedicated readers around the world,” his publicist Becky Odell told USA Today in a statement.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Dickey started out as a software developer in the aerospace industry. Being laid off from that job gave him a chance to take writing classes and see whether he could make it as an author.

He emerged during a boom for African American literature in the 1990s, and his 1996 debut Sister, Sister – about the lives and loves of three siblings – was recently named one of the 50 Most Impactful Black Books of the Last 50 Years by Essence magazine.

He was particularly praised for his ability to write “believable” female characters, and many of his readers were women.

SSM Health Regional President Damond Boatwright Named CEO of  Hospital Sisters Health System in Illinois

After seven years leading SSM Health’s operations in Wisconsin, Damond Boatwright will be leaving the organization to become CEO of Illinois-based Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS). He will lead the system’s nearly 2,300 physician partners and more than 13,000 associate staff in Illinois and Wisconsin. 

“While I am excited about this new chapter, this decision was not easy,” Boatwright said. “Wisconsin has become my home and SSM Health has become my family. I am incredibly proud of the work the organization has done. SSM Health has a strong leadership team in place and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the extraordinary people I’ve been blessed to know and serve these past seven years. I will be eternally grateful for my time at SSM Health and the life-long relationships made through my work here.”

Boatwright joined SSM Health in 2014 as the Wisconsin Regional President of Hospital Operations. In 2017, he was promoted to regional president overseeing all operations within the Wisconsin region, including SSM Health’s integrated care delivery network made up of seven hospitals, 85+ clinics, 10 post-acute locations and home health services.

Under his leadership, SSM Health integrated with the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes, which added health care services from Agnesian HealthCare and Monroe Clinic into the SSM Health family. Boatwright supported and championed economic growth initiatives like SSM Health Dean Medical Group’s South Madison Campus project, a $75 million investment in the heart of Madison, as well as the development of a new, $40 million standalone primary and specialty care clinic in Beaver Dam. In 2020, he offered thoughtful and compassionate leadership to our system’s team as they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past seven years, Boatwright has also served as a collaborative community leader through his service on the Wisconsin Health Association Board, as a member of the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, past Board President of the American Heart Association’s Wisconsin chapter, a member of the bi-partisan Speaker’s Task Force on Racial Disparities, and various other board memberships. 

His last day with SSM Health will be May 15. A national search for a permanent regional president is underway. 

Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Middleweight Boxing Great, Dies at 66

The Associated Press

Marvelous Marvin Hagler stopped Thomas Hearns in a fight that lasted less than eight minutes yet was so epic that it still lives in boxing lore.

Two years later, Hagler was so disgusted after losing a decision to Sugar Ray Leonard — stolen, he claimed, by the judges — that he never fought again.

One of the great middleweights in boxing history, Hagler died March 14 at the age of 66. His wife, Kay, announced his death on the Facebook page for Hagler’s fans.

“I am sorry to make a very sad announcement,’’ she wrote. “Today unfortunately my beloved husband Marvelous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire. Our family requests that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.’’

Hagler fought on boxing’s biggest stages against its biggest names, as he, Leonard, Hearns and Roberto Duran dominated the middleweight classes during a golden time for boxing in the 1980s. Quiet with a brooding public persona, Hagler fought 67 times over 14 years as a pro out of Brockton, Massachusetts, finishing 62-3-2 with 52 knockouts.

“If they cut my bald head open, they will find one big boxing glove,’’ Hagler once said. “That’s all I am. I live it.’’

Hagler was unmistakable in the ring, fighting out of a southpaw stance with his bald head glistening in the lights. He was relentless and he was vicious, stopping opponent after opponent during an eight-year run that began with a disputed draw against Vito Antuofermo in 1979 that he later avenged.