James C. Graham Jr., former CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison

The Urban League of Greater Madison (UGLM) announced former CEO James C. Graham, Jr., passed away. According to the Sept. 4 release, James collapsed while on his way to dinner celebrating his wedding anniversary. He served as CEO of UGLM from 1977 to 1983. 

James continued to pursue the ULGM mission in the four areas established by his predecessor, Myron Robinson ꟷ employment, education, housing and social welfare. During his tenure, he established several new initiatives including a tutorial program to help students receive their GEDs, an ex-offenders reintegration program, and an apprenticeship program for skilled labor jobs. 

In an interview with the Capital Times in 1978, James stated a goal for the Urban League was “to bring a sense of community in the city.” He believed that “the Urban League working in conjunction with other organizations, could bring that feeling to Madison.”

His tenure during the early part of the 1980s occurred during a tumultuous time for the nation and for Madison. He recounted the sad state of the nation in one of his annual addresses: “In this year, we have seen the attempted assassination of National Urban League president Vernon Jordan, Jr. (shot by avowed racist Joseph Paul Franklin while visiting Fort Wayne, Indiana); the rapid acceleration of the Ku Klux Klan and its ilk; the first “race riot ” in almost twenty years (in Miami after the police killing of motorcyclist Arthur McDuffie) a lynching in Alabama; the acquittal of Klan members in North Carolina; overt disobedience to desegregation orders by public officials; the avowals of current national office holders to dismantle affirmative action and, massive budget cuts in social welfare, housing and employment.”

 A few years later, James heeded the National Urban League’s call for “new strategies for changing times.” For example, as the city’s Spanish-speaking population grew he helped create the Cuban-Haitian Employment Program. The Urban League staff even held office hours at Centro Hispano’s Fairchild Street offices. This was the beginning of countless partnerships with Centro Hispano over the years.

In response to the massive government cuts to social programs, James led a renewed focus with business and community leaders. For example, the League launched beginner and intermediate clerical skills training programs that utilized area business as internship sites. This included companies like IBM, American Family Insurance, CUNA, Oscar Mayer, Wisconsin Power & Light, M&I, First Wisconsin National Bank and EDS Federal Corp.

1st Black Woman Sworn in as Justice on New Jersey High Court

The Associated Press 

The first Black woman to sit on New Jersey’s Supreme Court has been sworn in on Sept. 1.

Fabiana Pierre-Louis took the oath of office during a private ceremony in Trenton, New Jersey. 

Pierre-Louis, 39, had been nominated by Gov. Phil Murphy in June to succeed Justice Walter Timpone, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in November. She previously served for nearly a decade as an assistant United States Attorney in New Jersey and most recently was a partner at Montgomery McCracken in Cherry Hill, where she was in the white collar and government investigations practice.

The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Pierre-Louis was the first person to go to law school in her family. She is Murphy’s first pick for the high court.

Murphy, a Democrat, has said that Pierre-Louis would carry on the legacy of John Wallace, who was the last Black justice on the state’s highest court and who she clerked for.

BET Announces First-Ever National Black Voter Day

BET, along with the National Urban League and other key civil rights organizations, launched the first-ever National Black Voter Day on Sept.18, to aid Black citizens against suppression tactics and ensure that their vote counts in the various elections taking place in November.

The #ReclaimYourVote campaign was held exactly 100 days out from Election Day on Nov. 3.  

“The final stretch is always the most important part of any race, and with just 100 days until Election Day, there’s no time like the present for BET to go ‘all in’ with National Black Voter Day,” BET Networks President Scott Mills said in a statement. “We are rallying all the resources and relationships we have to mitigate the undeniable efforts being made to disenfranchise the African American community, a voting bloc ubiquitously understood to influence elections. We will use the current momentum of the fight against systemic racism to galvanize those marching in protest to march to the polls in November.”

Launched earlier this year, the #ReclaimYourVote campaign focuses on demystifying the voting process for Black citizens in the age of COVID-19. With the help of the National Urban League (NUL), the campaign will break down the necessary steps to make Black voices heard, including securing and checking voter registration, making a voting plan, and encouraging friends and family to vote.

NUL president Marc Morial said partnering with the iconic BET name will ensure the organization reaches as many Black voters as possible.

“We will be launching a grassroots effort in probably about a dozen cities to put people in the communities on the ground, using everything from canvassing, to organizing, to door-to-door leaf footing, and social media to register, educate and mobilize people to vote,” Morial told BET.com, adding NUL will use BET’s social media accounts to amplify the effort and educate voters.

Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary-designee Dawn Crim Names Donna Moreland Deputy Secretary

Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary-designee Dawn Crim chose

Donna Moreland to serve as Deputy Secretary of the agency that handles the majority of the state’s

occupational licensing and administers the building code. Moreland replaces Nia Trammell, who is leaving DSPS on Oct. 9 to fill a seat on the Dane County Circuit Court, as the department’s second-ranking official.

“I am honored to join DSPS, and I look forward to working closely with Secretary-designee Dawn Crim to serve our customers and the people of Wisconsin,” Moreland said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to make a difference on a state-wide level.”

Moreland began her new post on Oct. 12. Previously the office business director for law firm Perkins Coie, LLP, Moreland has worked in legal administration for more than 15 years. She also previously represented District 7 on the Madison City Council.

“Donna will be a valuable addition to our leadership team,” Secretary-designee Crim said. “She brings deep leadership skills and extensive management experience to our agency. I am confident that she will help us do our important work of keeping the people of Wisconsin safe and supporting our state’s economic growth.”

The Department of Safety and Professional Services issues more than 240 unique licenses, administers dozens of boards and councils that regulate professions, enforces state building codes, operates the state fire prevention program, and maintains the award-winning Wisconsin Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which is a key tool in the multi-faceted public health campaign to stem excessive opioid prescribing. 

Michael Jordan Became First Black Principal Owner of a Full-time NASCAR Cup Team Since 19


The sports world was buzzing when news broke that Michael Jordan was entering into a partnership with NASCAR racer Denny Hamlin, currently ranked second in the Cup Series championship standings with seven races remaining. 

Those two have purchased a team charter from Germain Racing to field cars for Bubba Wallace, who will leave Richard Petty Motorsports at season’s end. The details of car number, sponsor, crew, etc. are all TBD. But the charter guarantees them a starting spot in the Cup Series field every weekend, and a technical alliance with Hamlin’s employer, Joe Gibbs Racing, guarantees equipment produced by NASCAR’s current dynasty-builder.

So, how did Hamlin, Jordan and Wallace end up together? It started back in 2006. That’s when Jordan became an investor in the still-new Charlotte Bobcats. The Jack Nicholson of the Bobcats was Hamlin, a NASCAR wunderkind who won two races during his first full-time Cup Series season and was a self-described “basketball junkie” who sat courtside at the NBA team’s sparkling new arena. In ‘06, Jordan and Hamlin formed a friendship that has continued to this day. They started playing golf. Hamlin began sporting the Jumpman logo on his firesuits, wearing custom-made Jordan-branded racing shoes and, on occasion, bringing Jordan to the racetrack as his guest.

Whenever Jordan made an appearance at Daytona International Speedway or Charlotte Motor Speedway, it caused a stir. But few realized that he was already very familiar with both racetracks. As a kid growing up in Wilmington, North Carolina, his father, James, would often take Jordan and his siblings to Winston Cup Series races around the Carolinas, places like Charlotte, Darlington and Rockingham, and even all the way to Daytona Beach, Florida.

During his time as a UNC Tar Heel, Jordan befriended teammate Brad Daugherty, a stock car racing fanatic from Black Mountain, North Carolina, who went on to wear No. 43 in the NBA because of his Richard Petty fandom.

From 2003 to 2013, Jordan returned to Daytona often as owner of Michael Jordan Motorsports, an AMA Superbike team. He loved the athleticism and precision of the racers who piloted the aero-slick motorcycles at nearly 200 mph, but was often frustrated by an ages-old racing quandary: how to compete in an equipment-dependent world of haves ruling over the have-nots.

For years, as in nearly a couple of decades, both Hamlin and Daugherty lobbied Jordan to invest in NASCAR. 

For First Time, Navy to Name Supercarrier after Black American

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

For the first time in its 244-year history, the U.S. Navy plans to name an aircraft carrier after a Black American — a serviceman who became one of the early heroes of World War II.

The USS Doris Miller, a supercarrier currently in planning, is being christened in honor of the enlisted sailor who jumped into action aboard the USS West Virginia during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, according to a report by NPR.

Miller, the 22-year-old son of a sharecropper from Waco, Texas, helped shelter his wounded captain as bombs rained down on the ship. Then, despite no training, he manned a machine gun and shot at enemy planes until the ammunition ran out, according to historical accounts.

Miller didn’t stop there — he rescued multiple men from the ship as it sank and continued to pull injured sailors out of water of the harbor afterward.

Initially the military did not give Miller full recognition for his brave actions, but after consistent pressure by the Black press, Miller was awarded the distinguished Navy Cross in 1942.

Now 78 years later, his name will be enshrined alongside U.S. presidents, whom most supercarriers are named after. What’s most notable about Miller’s bravery that day is that Black sailors in those times were prohibited from firing weapons.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders Is Jackson State’s New Head Football Coach


“Prime Time” is back.

Deion Sanders, the NFL Hall of Fame defensive back, is returning to the sidelines, this time as the head coach of Jackson State University’s football program.

Sanders, 53, made the announcement on his podcast, “21st & Prime.”

“A lot of people are going to say, ‘Why?’” Sanders said. “But honestly, man, I’ve been offered pro jobs, so people know. I could be an assistant in any college, or a head coach in any college, but at such a time as this, God called me to Jackson State and me to these men.”

Sanders is now the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School near Dallas.

Jackson State, a historically Black college that plays in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, hasn’t had a winning season since 2013.

“It’s very big for Jackson State University,” the school’s athletics director Ashley Robinson said on the podcast, “not only for Jackson State University, this is very big for the country right now, very big for the state of Mississippi. To ‘Coach Prime,’ Jackson State University — a blue blood program full of Hall of Famers — it’s just a great time.”

Sanders played 14 seasons in the NFL and won two Super Bowls. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, six-time First Team All-Pro and he won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1994. Sanders also played in Major League Baseball, with five teams for nine seasons.