Ruth E. Carter becomes the first Black woman to win multiple Oscars


Costume designer Ruth E. Carter just became the first Black woman to win two Oscars.

Carter won her second Oscar for costume design for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” In 2019, she became the first Black woman to win an Oscar in the category for her work on the first “Black Panther” film.

In her acceptance speech, Carter thanked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for “recognizing this superhero that is a Black woman.”

“She endures, she loves, she overcomes,” said Carter, dressed in a striking goldenrod gown, in an homage to the Black women she’s dressed in her work. “She is every woman in this film. She is my mother.”

Carter told the audience that her mother died earlier in the week at 101.

“This film prepared me for this moment,” she said, and then referenced the late “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020, and asked him to “please take care of mom.”

The acclaimed costumer was previously nominated for Oscars for her work in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” and Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad.”

Only four other Black Oscar winners have earned multiple statues in competitive categories – actors Denzel Washington and Mahershala Ali and sound mixers Willie D. Burton and Russell Williams II.

Zandra Flemister blazed a tough trail in the Secret Service. Now she’s getting credit


Zandra Flemister, the first Black woman to serve as a special agent in the U.S. Secret Service, died in February at age 71. She is being remembered as a pioneer at the agency, which she left after four years because of racial discrimination.

She went on to spend over three decades as a foreign service officer, rising to the upper ranks of senior foreign service before Alzheimer’s disease forced her to retire in 2011. She did so while juggling family responsibilities, including raising her son, who was diagnosed with autism as a child.

“The level of accomplishments that my wife managed … under the conditions that she lived, that to me says a hell of a lot about the woman,” Flemister’s husband, John Collinge, told NPR in a phone interview.

Flemister’s death — of Alzheimer’s complications and publicized in a Washington Post obituary — has renewed attention to her trailblazing stint at the Secret Service in the 1970s.

Flemister wasn’t aware of the historic nature of her own role until she started in August of 1974, a week before President Richard Nixon’s resignation, according to Collinge.

And she experienced discrimination and tokenization throughout her time at the agency, including being relegated to mostly undercover and lower-paying duties, getting propositioned by male colleagues on overnight assignments, being denied recognition for exemplary work and facing a constant barrage of racist comments and slurs, often aimed at her directly.

Flemister stayed with the agency because she wanted to be a “trailblazer for other African-American women,” as she wrote in an affidavit filed in support of a 2000 class-action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination within the Secret Service (which settled for $24 million in 2017).

UW South Madison Partnership welcomes new assistant director

UW Madison

This semester, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Community Relations office welcomed Tanika Apaloo as the new assistant director of the UW South Madison Partnership (UWSMP). In her role, Apaloo will oversee day-to-day operations of the UWSMP and promote stable and productive relationships between the university and community in south Madison and beyond.

Prior to joining the UW–Madison Community Relations team, Apaloo worked with the Wisconsin Historical Society as a community engagement and diversity liaison and community programs manager. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, double majoring in legal studies and sociology, with certificates in criminal justice and African American studies. Apaloo has been an active participant in the Madison area community for the past 20 years and currently serves on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County Board of Directors and on the Foundation Board of Directors for Agrace.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tanika to the Community Relations team,” says Brenda González, director of Community Relations for UW–Madison. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience engaging community members across diverse backgrounds and experiences. She will help us continue to center community and put the Wisconsin Idea into action.”

Apaloo succeeds Merry Farrier-Babanovski, who helped build a strong base and deepened the community connections that pushed for the recent expansion of the UWSMP space. Farrier-Babanovski served as the lead and primary point of contact for the UWSMP for almost seven years.

The UW South Madison Partnership is a UW–Madison initiative designed to meet the needs of the South Madison community and foster mutually beneficial relationships. The UWSMP partners with 22 community organizations and works with campus partners across eight schools and colleges, five divisions and two institutes, in addition to the Division of Extension. 

Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo to Donate $1M to Milwaukee Mental Health Services

Bleacher Report

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is donating $1 million to mental health services in the city of Milwaukee, according to the Charles Antetokounmpo Family Foundation (h/t Drake Bentley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

Antetokounmpo appeared on The Daily Show and spoke more about the foundation, which was named in honor of his father.

“We decided as a family to come together and build this foundation to basically just do what people did for us,” he said (h/t Bentley). “… Put our hand out there and give them an opportunity to be great and whatever they decide to do. Kind of help them, be that step for them to go out there and accomplish their dreams. The same way I did.”

The 28-year-old has previously spoken about his own mental health struggles and working on himself to understand and overcome them.

The two-time MVP remains one of the NBA’s most dynamic players, averaging 31.3 points, 12.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists this season. He is yet again in the conversation for MVP, and has the Bucks (44-17) currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference.

Howard University’s All-Black Swim Team Just Won A Conference Championship

Essence Magazine

Howard University is home to the only all-Black college swim team in the U.S., and on Sunday the Bison’s men’s swimming and diving team won the Northeast Conference Championship, beating the other teams “by a margin of 169 points.” This gave the HBCU team its first conference championship in 34 years.

Howard University is the last remaining HBCU with a swimming program and has seen an incredible amount of growth in the past decade, especially considering its coach Nicholas Askew advocated for the program being shut down in 2013 because of years of woeful underinvestment. “It was a disservice to the student athletes that came here with hopes and ambitions of developing and getting better and not having a consistent coach,” he said. “My answer to the equation was just cut it. Stop having a program that’s not being supported.”

This was all incredibly personal to Askew, a class of 2000 alum, who played tennis and swam for the university. In 2014, Askew took over the coaching position, completely transforming the program in his nine years as coach. He now boasts “Nobody in America can offer what we have in our pool…Where else are you going to see this?”

The NEC Conference Championship win certainly answers that question, and Bison swimmers “also walked away with multiple individual trophies: Senior Miles Simon won the NEC Outstanding Swimmer award; sophomore Jordan Walker won the NEC Outstanding Diver award; and Zuzu Nwaeze, of Columbia, Maryland, won Rookie of the Meet honors. The team also won NEC Coaching Staff of the Year honors.”

Indeed, this legacy of discrimination within the sport of swimming has reverberated for years, and today, “African American athletes represent a very small percent of competitive swimmers in America.” Howard University has “one-third of the Black collegiate swimmers in America.” Senior swim team member at Howard Miles Simon says, “that number could be higher.”

CurlCap Becomes First Black-owned Apparel Company with Authorized Disney Merchandise 

Black Enterprise

Black-owned businesses are dropping their creative magic at Disney.

Disney is collaborating with Black-owned businesses to create new merchandise for fans.

According to WESH, the partnership features new apparel, beauty items, food and beverage products, and toys.

CurlCap Founder, Brittney Sade, is one of the Black businesses partnering with Disney on the merchandise.

According to the CurlCap’s Instagram, Sade made history “as the first black owned apparel company to have their own authorized Disney merchandise.”

“Those who may not have been reflected always in the products or the films and so on, it’s wonderful to have a mirror, have an example to showcase something you can be, something you maybe didn’t even dream of,” Michelle Stepney, a representative from Disney’s consumer products team said.

Stepney said working with brands like Sade’s, which was inspired by an experience with psoriasis causing Sade to start over in her hair journey, can be life changing. Sade made a sample of her caps that were made with natural hair in mind.

Disney took notice of Sade’s satin lined, backless CurlCaps, and picked up the product.

Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives appoints new Faculty Artistic Director, Professor Mark H.


Professor Mark H. is the newly appointed Faculty Artistic Director of UW–Madison’s Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI), home of the First Wave Hip Hop & Urban Arts Scholarship Program. OMAI is housed in the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement (DDEEA).

Professor H. is a director, performer, scholar and educator with a primary focus on physical theaters and American and African diasporic performance. For close to two decades, he has been a professional multidisciplinary theater artist, with a body of work ranging from the classical to the experimental, from text-based to physical and produced in performance spaces both traditional and unconventional. He is most drawn to and inspired by performance that is highly physical, ancient, postdramatic, interdisciplinary, Afrofuturistic, immersive, underground, divine, sustainable and aimed at individual and community development. He approaches performance as a rite/right, as an art and as a vital technology for sight, development, liberation and healing. Mark H. received his BFA in Acting with High Honors from Rutgers University and is a graduate of the MFA Directing program at Columbia University. He is currently faculty in UW–Madison’s Department of Theatre and Drama.

In response to Professor H.’s two-year appointment, he commented:

In the four years I have worked at UW–Madison, I have found myself involved with First Wave as a spectator, a guest lecturer, a mentor and an artistic collaborator. This is where some of the most exciting art in Madison is happening – the energy is palpable – and I so wanted to be a part of that in any way I could. That is why I am thrilled to be entering into this new role as First Wave Faculty Artistic Director. The students in the program radiate brilliance. They have a profound awareness of themselves and the problems we all face, and are determined to boldly use their voices to speak, shout, rap and sing into existence the world they envision. 

Myesha Thompson Looks to Boost Black Homeownership as Director of innovative Own It: Building Black Wealth Initiative


While housing and the current state of the economy continue to be topics of discussion across communities in Madison, Myesha Thompson, with her experience in both the financial and real estate field, is looking to support aspiring Black and brown homeowners in her new role as director of Own It: Building Black Wealth, a privately-funded Madison organization that supports community members of color throughout the process of buying a home and building wealth. 

Born and raised in Chicago, Thompson has spent time in Wisconsin working for the state along with working as a licensed financial advisor and insurance agent. With personal experiences around looking to purchase a home and speaking with others looking to do the same, Thompson is not unfamiliar with what it takes to approach the prospect. 

“I noticed when meeting with my insurance clients that the education regarding financial literacy was just missing,” Thompson told Madison365. “Once I heard about the wealth-building course and the homeownership course Own It was offering, I thought, ‘this is exactly what I’m doing with my clients. Let me get on board with Own It.’ I love the fact that with Own It, the wealth building and home ownership courses are led and taught by Black and brown leaders in our community, which is very different. It’s community centered, and has a racial justice framework.”

With experience working for the state around food security and health, Thompson spoke about how many aspects of wealth come from addressing other important areas. Own It: Building Black Wealth is designed to eliminate substantial barriers to wealth and homeownership for Black families in the greater Madison area. Families are able to receive guidance that is focused and personalized. With a hands-on approach and a team of experts across areas leading to home ownership, the process looks to provide support, and intentionally prepare families to take on the responsibility of owning a home. 

First Black Woman to Have Nationally Syndicated Cartoon Shares What She Wants Her Legacy to be in the Cartooning Industry

Barbara Brandon-Croft is a name you should know if you don’t already. The groundbreaking author and illustrator made history in 1991 when she was the first Black woman to have a nationally syndicated cartoon.

“I kinda put them on blast,” Brandon-Croft says. “‘You haven’t done this, why not? Here is one.’”

Her comic strip, Where I’m Coming From, explores the voices of Black women across America who discuss wide-ranging topics from love to racism. Her cartoon became so popular that it would go on to be picked up by over 60 newspapers nationwide.

“It wasn’t until somebody said to me, ‘Hey, you’re kind of funny. And you draw. You think you can come up with a comic strip?’ And I was like, ‘I think I can.’”

In an interview with WBUR, Brandon-Croft explained how little exposure Black people were receiving in the media, specifically newspapers, which were popular at the time.

“There were very few Black comic strips in the papers I was reading at all. But my dad was a pioneering Black cartoonist, one of the few who made it into the mainstream press in the late 1960s,” she said. “And he had a comic strip called ‘Luther.’ And so I was well aware of the industry. I actually worked on his comic strip at some point when I was a little bit older. So I knew what was happening; I could see it in front of me. And I also knew that if you had one Black comic, you’re not going to have another. So often my dad would be (told), ‘We already have Quincy or we already have Wee Pals. We don’t need Luther.’ I was well aware of how few Black faces were on the comic pages.”

She further revealed that her inspiration to begin cartooning stemmed from her father, who played a major influence in her life.

“My dad’s studio was our dining room table. So he would set up his situation, you know, pens, papers, pads, light box, the whole thing, do his work and then take it all down so we could have dinner on the table, she said. “I was watching a cartoonist, a real-life role model, one that I could touch, in my home.