Nation’s Largest Police Department Names First Black Detectives Chief

In a first, the nation’s largest police department selected a Black chief for its detectives squad as bail reform and other challenges loom. New York City police Commissioner Dermot Shea called incoming Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison the “total package” and said he possesses a wealth of investigative experience, according to the Associated Press.

Harrison, 50, has been a detective, went undercover investigating drug crimes and was shot in the line of duty during a 28-year NYPD career. He started as a patrol officer in Queens around the time Shea was beginning his NYPD career in the Bronx. He’s been the department’s chief of patrol for about two years.

In a statement, Harrison said he has long aspired to be chief of detectives.

“He’s exactly what we want,” said Shea, who led the department’s approximately
7,000 detectives before taking over as police commissioner on Dec. 1.

Breaking Barriers: Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Now Miss Universe Are All Black Women

It’s the first time in history that Black women hold the titles for Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss America, Miss Universe and Miss World. The newly crowned Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa, joined Miss America Nia Franklin, Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, and Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris.

“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful,” Tunzi said, according to the BBC. “I think that it is time that that stops today.”

“It is important to little brown and Black girls to see three strong figures, three strong women, African American women that are doing so much great work,” Franklin told the New York Times. “People will argue that race doesn’t matter. But race does matter in America, because of the history, because of slavery.”

Prince and ‘Purple Rain’ Are Now Part of the National Film Registry

The Library of Congress’ National Film Registry Officially Rocks, Thanks to Prince and Mozart.

The library has added 25 movies to its catalog, including Prince’s “Purple Rain” and the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart biopic “Amadeus,” The Los Angeles Times reports. This year’s additions, released in December, also feature Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” and Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

“Purple Rain,” based on Prince and the Revolution’s album of the same name, starred the music icon in his big-screen debut as “The Kid,” a character loosely based on Prince himself. Directed by Albert Magnoli, the 1984 film was a smash hit, cleaning up at the box office and scoring an Oscar for Prince’s original score. The film’s multiplatinum soundtrack was also previously named to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.

Pastor District Elder James Hawkins & Lady Angela Lewis-Hawkins are New Leaders of The Faith Place Church in Sun Prairie.

Pastor District Elder James Hawkins has been elected to head pastor of The Faith Place Church in Sun Prairie. He and his wife, Angela Lewis-Hawkins, have been faithful to their call to ministry, as demonstrated by their passion and enthusiasm for educating souls about the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The move comes after Bishop Harold Rayford, who lead the church for 13 years, accepted the call to lead Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith in Columbus, Ohio.

The Hawkins have found a new home at The Faith Place. Sermons, including A Praise in the Valley, Pregnant with Purpose, and I’ve Got to Get Myself Together, have enthralled church goers. In 1998, James Hawkins founded Higher Praise Christian Center in Toledo, Ohio. 

He also served as senior pastor of Higher Praise until April 2011 when God directed him to another plateau in His service.  Listening to the voice of God, he was charged to make a transition to Indianapolis, Indiana, where he resided and served at Christ Church Apostolic, before coming to Wisconsin.

The Faith Place is located at 211 E Linnerud Dr, Sun Prairie. To learn more visit the website at

Horse Racing Legend Isaac Burns Murphy 

Isaac Burns Murphy was an African American Hall of Fame jockey, who is considered one of the greatest riders in American Thoroughbred horse racing history. Murphy won three Kentucky Derbies. 

Murphy was part of the superabundance of Black jockeys in the history of horse racing. African American jockeys rode fourteen of the fifteen horses in the first Kentucky Derby. The horse racing sport was built with the talents of Black people whose jobs typically included trainer, jockey and owner. 

He first worked as an exercise boy at Lexington stables, and acquired his first race mount in 1875 at the age of 14 as a replacement rider. Gleefully, Murphy won that race! Soon the incredibly talented Murphy dominated the sport of horse racing. In 1879, he won a record 35 of 75 races he entered. He won 49 of 51 starts at Saratoga in 1882, and on several days, he rode winners in every race.

Murphy’s abilities earned him the best mounts of his era.

Wisconsin Partnership Program Welcomes Cedric Johnson As An Oversight and Advisory Committee Member

Cedric Johnson is one of four public members to join as the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health representatives. The first African American to hold the post, Johnson is the community services manager at Madison Gas & Electric in which he works with other departments to ensure customers are served without barriers based on income, ethnicity, race or other factors.

The Oversight and Advisory Committee (OAC), which consists of nine public members, is responsible for directing, approving and monitoring the use of Partnership Program funds for public health initiatives. Each brings unique expertise and experience to help guide the OAC’s grantmaking decisions and strategies.

“I am honored to join the OAC and do my part in centering communities of color; making sure our people have the resources to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit so we can grow into our best selves and flourish.”

Madison Ballet Names Verónica Castillo Director of Outreach Advocate for Equal Access for Arts Education Builds a Vision for Dance for All

Madison Ballet announced that Verónica Castillo has been named the organization’s director of outreach after having previously serving as outreach and education coordinator. Castillo will build opportunities for future audiences and dancers alike by overseeing collaborative educational programs with community centers, libraries, schools, and senior centers. Additionally, she will build curriculum that is culturally appropriate and provide training to the faculty of the School of Madison Ballet, under Director Rachelle Butler’s leadership.

“I am a teacher and advocate at heart and am excited to bring this perspective to Madison Ballet,” Castillo said. “When we allow a student to become a dancer for even an hour, we provide space for them to express their emotions and plant a seed to blossom into a new path through the arts.”

Castillo is a native of El Paso, Texas, and was raised in Iowa City, Iowa. She holds a BA in Art History and Non-Profit Organization from the University of Iowa, and a master’s degree in bilingual education from Edgewood College. She relocated from San Francisco to Madison in 2011, where she worked as a bilingual classroom teacher for K-4 through fifth grade at Kennedy Elementary, Schenck Elementary and Glendale Elementary. She was also an ESL/TAG Instructional Resource Coach at Leopold Elementary and Nuestro Mundo. Before joining Madison Ballet, she worked in the administrative offices for the Madison Metropolitan School District. Currently, she takes Flamenco classes with Tania Tandias Flamenco & Spanish Dance.

Madison’s Kabzuag Vaj Recognized Among ‘20 Women Of Color In Politics To Watch In 2020’

Born in Laos, Kabzuag Vaj came to the United States as a refugee. For over 20 years, she’s been doing violence prevention work and was recognized as a Champion of Change at the White House during Domestic Violence Awareness month in 2011. 

The Madison resident is the co-founder and co-executive director of Freedom, Inc., an organization working with low- to no-income communities of color that focuses on ending violence against women and youth. Freedom Inc.’s model is based on investing deeply in people and their needs. In addition to their violence prevention work, they host educational activities with children, provide culturally specific programming, and engage in community organizing around issues related to injustice and inequality. 

One of their goals for next year is to work with partner organizations to target infrequent and non-voters to help them understand the issues in their communities and turn them into lifelong voters. They aim to reach 10,000 voters and get more Southeast Asian women elected to office in the next five years.

New York City Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ Cast a Black Marie for the First Time

For the first time, New York City Ballet has cast a Black Marie in its annual production of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,” which premiered in 1954, according to CNN.

This season, the leading role of the young heroine is being played by 11-year-old Charlotte Nebres. 

But for Charlotte, who grew up with role models like Misty Copeland, it just reaffirms that nothing can hold her back.

Dena Abergel, children’s ballet master at New York City Ballet, acknowledged that the casting decision was a significant milestone. But Charlotte wasn’t cast because of the color of her skin or as part of a diversity initiative, she said.

Charlotte simply had everything she was looking for in the character of Marie. “When I’m looking for someone who can do Marie, I’m looking for someone primarily who has an ability to act on stage and to convey a story,” Abergel told CNN. “… It has to be someone who can command the stage and who has enough confidence and spontaneity to handle whatever comes her way.”