First African American Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent Tony Burrell retires after 32-year career

Spectrum News 1

After more than three decades on the job, July 8 marks the final day for Wisconsin State Patrol’s highest-ranking officer.  Standing behind his famed Stetson, Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent Tony Burrell said he is finally ready to hang up his hat.

“Been here 32 years … to be in law enforcement for that long, for your entire career, it’s pretty remarkable,” he said about the journey that he began at just 22-years-old.  

The department’s historian found a picture of the top trooper as a cadet and shared the black-and-white photo from the early 90’s with him.

“Looking back at this picture again and it’s like, ‘Wow, who would have thought, right?’ So, here I am, 32 years later and I’m running the department,” he said with a chuckle about his destiny. He still can’t believe he rose through the ranks to become the agency’s first Black leader. 

“I’m certainly looking forward to many more to follow and I’m sure there will be many more to come in my footsteps and I’m glad to be able to blaze the trail for them,” he said about how he has worked to diversify the ranks.

Burrell said this is a career that is always driven by excellence.

“This job is not it’s not for the faint of heart,” Burrell said. “It’s not for everyone. It’s certainly a calling.”

Oscar Mireles Receives 2022 Rotary Club of Madison Youth Service Award

Each year, our club recognizes up to six members for their service to our Rotary Club in one of the five avenues of service which are club, community, international, vocational or youth service.  Today, I am going to introduce you to a Rotary Club of Madison 2022 Youth Service Award recipient.

Oscar Mireles has been a member of our Rotary Club of Madison for 14 years.  If you know Oscar, you know he is passionate about helping young people realize their educational goals.  He has been Executive Director of Omega School for the past 28 years.  In his role at Omega School, he has helped thousands of young adults earn their GED Certificates. 

For the past seven years, Oscar has served as a member of our Rotary Scholarship Committee.  Each year, he has read over 35 lengthy scholarship application forms, has helped conduct the student interviews and has helped select recipients for our annual four-year college scholarship program.  It requires extensive volunteer time each year, and he did it for seven years.  He didn’t stop there.  Oscar has also mentored several of our Rotary Scholars to help them navigate their college years since most of our scholarship recipients are the first in their families to attend college. Oscar is currently serving as a trustee of our Madison Rotary Foundation as well.

Oscar makes a huge difference in our club and in our community.  For his Service Above Self efforts, the club board of directors has named him as one of our 2022 Rotary Club of Madison Youth Service Award recipients.  The Club has made a $200 gift in Oscar’s name to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

Oscar, we offer our congratulations to you!

For Black Americans, family and friends are a primary source of information on U.S. Black history

Pew R. search Center

Nearly 9-in-10 Black Americans say they are at least somewhat informed about the history of Black people in the United States, with family and friends being the single largest source of information about it, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of Black adults.

The achievements of Black Americans are recognized every February during Black History Month, which traces its roots to an exhibition commemorating their emancipation from slavery.

About half of Black Americans (51%) say they are very or extremely informed about the history of Black people in the U.S. Nearly 4-in-10 (37%) say they are somewhat informed, while 11% say they are a little or not at all informed.

Among Black adults who identify as Black alone, 51% say they are very or extremely informed about U.S. Black history. An identical share of multiracial (51%) adults say the same. About half of U.S.-born Black adults (51%) and Black immigrants (50%) also say they are very or extremely informed about U.S. Black history.

There are notable differences among Black adults in how well informed they say they are when it comes to U.S. Black history. Black adults who say being Black is highly important to their identity are almost twice as likely as those who say being Black is less important (57% vs. 29%) to say they are very or extremely informed about the history of Black people in the U.S.

In addition, Black adults ages 30 and older are more likely than those under 30 to say that they are very or extremely informed.

Black Americans who know at least a little about U.S. Black history say they learned about it in many different ways. The most common way is from family and friends, with 43% saying they learned everything or most of what they know about Black history from those close to them. 

Smaller shares say they learned about U.S. Black history from the media (30%), the internet (27%) and K-12 schools (23%). For those with at least an associate degree, 24% say they learned about U.S. Black history from higher education.

Las Vegas Raiders hire Sandra Douglass Morgan,  1st Black woman to serve as NFL organization’s team president

ESPN News Services

The Raiders have hired Las Vegas attorney Sandra Douglass Morgan to be their new team president, as she becomes the first Black woman to hold that title for an NFL franchise.

Morgan, who was born in Las Vegas, comes to the Raiders after previously serving as chairwoman and executive director of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. She has also served as the director of external affairs for AT&T Services Inc. in southern Nevada and as a litigation attorney for an international gaming and hospitality company.

“I am thrilled that Sandra has agreed to join the Raiders family,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement. “Her experience, integrity and passion for this community will be invaluable to our organization. From the moment I met Sandra, I knew she was a force to be reckoned with. We are extremely lucky to have her at the helm.”

Morgan, who was the first person of color to chair the Nevada Gaming Control Board, is the third woman and third Black person to become president of an NFL team.

She is also the latest Raiders hire to break barriers. Former Raiders coach Tom Flores was the first Hispanic head coach to win a Super Bowl title and former coach Art Shell was the first Black head coach of the NFL’s Super Bowl era.

Morgan, who spent eight years with the city of North Las Vegas, was also the first Black city attorney in the state of Nevada when she served in that role from 2013 to 2016.

“I definitely never want to be the last,” Morgan said, “and I want to get to a point where there is no more firsts.”

Senate confirms 1st Black 4-star general in Marine history

ABC News and Military News

Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley was confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 2 as a four-star general, making history as the first Black Marine to attain that rank.

The Senate’s confirmation came after President Joe Biden nominated Langley in June to lead the U.S. Africa Command, responsible for military operations in Africa.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Langley said at his July 21 confirmation hearing that his father, retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Willie C. Langley, served in the military for 25 years, while his stepmother, Ola Langley, served the U.S. Post Office.

Langley has served for 37 years, including as the deputy commanding general of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, deputy commanding general of the Fleet Marine Force, and as the commanding general of the Marine Forces Europe and Africa. In November 2021, he assumed the duties of commanding general, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, and commander, Marine Forces Command and Marine Forces Northern Command.

With Langley’s promotion, the Marine Corps becomes one of the last branches to promote a Black service member to the highest rank in the military. The newly formed Space Force has not yet promoted a Black Guardian into a top-level position.

“It is a great honor to be the president’s nominee to lead USAFRICOM. I am grateful to the trust and confidence extended by him, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the commandant of the Marine Corps,” Langley said in the July Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

EBONY HBCU STEM Queen Alena Analeigh Wicker Becomes Youngest Black Person to Ever be Accepted Into Medical School


EBONY cover star and HBCU Stem Queen Alena Analeigh Wicker, at 13 years old, made history by becoming the youngest Black person ever to be accepted to a medical school.

Wicker received an early acceptance from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Heersink School of Medicine.

After graduating high school at the age of 12, Wicker had already completed more than half of her undergraduate requirements at Arizona State University (ASU) and Oakwood University in just one year.

The University of Alabama informed her that she had been selected for the school’s Burroughs Welcome Scholars Early Assurance Program, which partners with several Black schools in Alabama to offer students early acceptance as they plan to enter medical school.

“I really want to leave my mark on the world. And lead a group of girls that know what they can do,” Wicker said in an interview.

Although she initially wanted to pursue engineering, she fell in love with biology after a trip to Jordan with The Brown STEM Girl foundation.

“It actually took one class in engineering, for me to say this is kind of not where I wanted to go,” she said. “I think viral immunology really came from my passion for volunteering and going out there engaging with the world.”.

“What I want from health care is to really show these underrepresented communities that we can help, that we can find cures for these viruses,” she added.

Mike Grier poses for photos as he is introduced as the new general manager of the San Jose Sharks at a news conference in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, July 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Mike Grier becomes the first Black general manager in NHL history


Mike Grier has been named the general manager of the San Jose Sharks, making him the first Black GM in National Hockey League history.

“I am extremely proud and grateful to be given the opportunity to be the general manager of the San Jose Sharks,” the 47-year-old hockey veteran said in a statement. “Along with my staff, I look forward to the challenge of building a fast, competitive, and hardworking team that Sharks fans will enjoy watching and be proud of.”

Grier has been an NHL hockey player, scout, coach and executive. He spent 14 seasons in the league as a top defensive forwards and leader. Prior to the Sharks GM position, he was the New York Rangers’ hockey operations adviser.

In 1996, he became the first African American born and trained in the U.S. to play in the NHL, according to The NHL didn’t track advanced statistics until the 2005-06 season, but Grier ranks 10th among all NHL forwards in blocked shots (315) and 33rd in hits (705).

Grier isn’t the first general manager in his family and comes from a line of sports executives. His father, Bobby, serves as a consultant with the Miami Dolphins and is a long-time executive in the National Football League. Grier’s brother, Chris, has been the Dolphins’ GM since 2016, and previously worked in scouting with the New England Patriots.

“Mike’s successful career on the ice speaks for itself, but what impressed me the most were his leadership qualities and his overwhelming desire to win,” Sharks owner Hasso Plattner said.

Black Engineer Invents Gloves That Turn Sign Language into Audible Speech


Even though technology has evolved so much over the years, sign language has still remained the popular choice for speech-impaired people to establish proper communication.

But sign language comes with a lot of problems, there around somewhere between 138 to 300 different types of sign language used throughout the world today and most people don’t understand them.

A new development out of Kenya can help us to eliminate the communication barrier between deaf & hearing people by allowing deaf people to use their sign language, to communicate with everyone, face-to-face.

Roy Allela, a 25-year-old engineer & inventor has invented the Sign-IO gloves that can translate signed hand movements to audible speech so deaf people can “talk” even to those who don’t understand sign language.

The inspiration of Roy Allela for the creation of smart Sign-IO glove is none other than her six-year-old niece who was born deaf. She had difficulty speaking with her family because they didn’t speak sign language.

Allela works for Intel and has good experience in data science, he also works as a data science tutor at Oxford University. With the help of his knowledge and overall experience in the domain of machine learning, Allela decided to develop smart gloves that can convert hand gestures of sign language into audio speech.

My niece wears gloves, pairs them to phone, then starts signing & I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” says Allela. “Like all sign language users, she’s very good at lip reading, so she doesn’t need me to sign back.”

“People speak at different speeds and it’s the same with people who sign – some are really fast, others are slow, so we integrated that into the mobile application so that it’s comfortable for anyone to use it.”

The Sign-IO gloves feature sensors mounted on each of the five fingers to determine its movements, including how much a finger is bent. The gloves are connected via Bluetooth to an Android app that Allela also invented which uses a text-to-speech function to convert the gestures to vocal speech.

The Sign-IO delivers give translations in real-time and it can be set to customized interpretation speeds, explains Allela. The device can also be altered to manipulate the pitch, speed, and tone of the voice.