Madison’s Hip Hop Architect Gets Major Award and Creates His Own Hieroglyphics

The Wisconsin State Journal

The work of Michael Ford is meant to stand out, inspire and engage.

The Madison architect is in the midst of designing the space for the Universal Hip Hop Museum in New York, has submitted designs for the proposed Bronzeville Center for the Arts on Milwaukee’s north side and has designed the Detroit House of Hip Hop.

Ford, who in 2010 founded BrandNu Design, is also preparing for the installation of a 25-foot-tall granite wall he designed that communicates the diversity, equity and inclusion statement for National Guardian Life in Madison. It uses a hieroglyphic-like alphabet created by Ford with each new symbol etched onto one of 360 granite tiles in the company’s lobby.

“We could have easily wrote the words of their mission statement on a wall, but we wanted it to become a conversation piece,” Ford said  as he watched some of the tiles being sandblasted at Quarra Stone Co. on Madison’s East Side. “It’s architecture that prompts people to do something.”

For Ford, 39, action is as much a part of his mantra as his design work. As one of just nine African American licensed architects in the state, it’s Ford’s mission to bring minorities into his field. It began in 2016 with a Hip Hop Architecture Camp at Madison Public Library and has expanded to 30 cities and two other countries where more than 3,000 young people have been introduced to architecture and its intersection with music and culture.

Ford was recognized in April for his efforts and design work when he was named one of Wisconsin’s Young Architects of the Year by the American Institute of Architects Wisconsin Chapter. It’s the organization’s highest honor for architecture professionals in the state who have been licensed for 10 years or less. Black architects make up less than 2% of the licensed architects in the U.S., and Ford is out to increase that number.

Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre smiles next to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during a press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, May 5, 2022, after it was announced Psaki would step down from her role next week and be replaced by Jean-Pierre. – US President Joe Biden on May 5, 2022 named Karine Jean-Pierre as the next White House press secretary, the first Black woman to hold the high-profile post. Jean-Pierre, who will also be the first openly LGBTQ+ person in the role, will replace Jen Psaki, under whom she served as deputy, from May 13, according to a White House statement. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Karine Jean-Pierre Becomes White House’s 1st Black Press Secretary


President Joe Biden has named Karine Jean-Pierre as his second White House press secretary, replacing Jen Psaki. Jean-Pierre, who has been Psaki’s deputy since the start of the administration, will make history several times over.

She will be the first Black press secretary in White House history and the first openly gay person in this high-profile role, speaking for both the president and the U.S. government in press briefings that are watched by the world.

“Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people,” Biden said in a statement announcing the news. “Jill and I have known and respected Karine a long time and she will be a strong voice speaking for me and this Administration.”

“This is a historic moment, and it’s not lost on me,” Jean-Pierre said at press briefing in May, where she appeared with Psaki, embracing and holding hands at times.

“I understand how important it is for so many people out there, so many different communities, that I stand on their shoulders and I have been throughout my career,” she added.

Raised in New York, Jean-Pierre was born in Martinique and went to Columbia University. Throughout her career she has bounced between Democratic political campaigns and left-leaning organizations.

Haley Taylor Schlitz, 19, Becomes Youngest Black Law School Graduate In America


When Haley Taylor Schlitz was in fifth grade, her usually high grades began to dip. Her mother, Dr. Myiesha Taylor, knew she was a star student and her “I don’t care,” response to her nosediving reports wasn’t cutting it. So, Dr. Taylor went to the school’s administration to get to the bottom of the issue.

She had a hunch her daughter was bored and needed advanced courses. She was met with opposition from both a teacher and the school’s principal.

“She started with the teacher and asked if I could be tested for the gifted talent program. The teacher denied, saying how I did on the pre-STAAR test and TAKS test [Texas’ standardized tests]. I didn’t do well,” Taylor Schlitz says. The girl’s mother was also told she may need to be held back. The principal then added she couldn’t be tested for the gifted program because testing was only for kindergartners. “Of course, that’s not true,” Taylor Schiltz remarks.

Racism seemed to be an underlying cause and this wasn’t the first time she had faced it. Once, the Texas school produced a play called “Northern Aggression” and had her portray a mixed race slave. In another instance, during a lesson on slavery, a white student turned to Taylor Schlitz and said, “You know, if we lived back in that time, I would own you.”

Fed up with the public school system, Dr. Taylor decided to homeschool her daughter and within two years, Taylor Schlitz had graduated from high school. This year, she’s making history as the youngest Black woman to graduate from law school in America. She is set to earn her Juris Doctor degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas.

Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson Named Dean of MSU’s College of Education

Diverse: Issues In Higher Education

Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson — one of the nation’s most prolific educational researchers — has been tapped to be the next dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University. He is the first African American to hold the post at MSU.

Jackson, who is currently the Rupple-Bascom Professor of Education and the Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will also hold the title of MSU Foundation Professor of Education when he arrives to the land-grant university in July. 

“Michigan State University’s history of acknowledging Black leadership through senior-level appointments was a key part of my decision making,” said Jackson, who in addition to his faculty role at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, currently serves as the chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis and is the founder, director and chief research scientist of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (WEI LAB).

“Whether you go back to 1970 with the appointment of Clifton R. Wharton as the first Black president of a major U.S. university or to recent hires such as Linda S. Greene as dean of the College of Law, or Alan Haller as vice president and director of athletics, I found comfort in my decision to step into leadership of one of Michigan’s State’s most prized academic colleges,” he said.

Greene said that Jackson’s “commitment to collaborative research, his commitment to inclusive excellence, and his commitment to mentoring the next generation of diverse education scholars,” is a major win for MSU. “His presence and his networks will enrich Michigan State University. “ 

A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and Auburn University, Jackson earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education from Iowa State University and joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2000, becoming the first African American faculty member in his department.