Former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous: How the Right Mindset Can Continue MLK’s Legacy

UW-Madison, By Kori Kefene

“If the mindset is wrong, the enterprise will fail.”

Social entrepreneur, changemaker and former NAACP president Benjamin Jealous spoke those words on Jan. 23 as he graced the stage at Shannon Hall in the Wisconsin Union Theater for the 2023 MLK Symposium.

Hosted by Student Affairs and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement, the MLK Symposium’s speaker is invited to connect their work and experiences to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered for the event while others watched online.

This year’s event included performances by student artists in the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Scholarship Program, the only one of its kind in the country. Kai Brown from the 15th cohort and Alpha Stokes from the 12th cohort read poems focused on Black beauty, resilience and current social ills.

Jealous, a former investigative journalist and Rhodes Scholar, has dedicated his life to bringing people together, building diverse coalitions for change, and holding government leaders accountable to the needs of everyday people. Jealous said he succeeded by presenting the keys on how each of us can unlock our ability to have a maximum impact on the world for the better, and how Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings can help us learn about which social justice issues need our attention the most.

Jealous discussed his activism as a community organizer with the NAACP and as editor of the Jackson Advocate newspaper in Mississippi, his encounters with the Ku Klux Klan and the unlikely allies that empowered his fight to build a large coalition that has successfully shrunk prison systems in parts of the South.

Jealous emphasized the importance of doing things that scare you every day because courage is like a muscle that must be exercised to become stronger. Intersectionality and interdependence can hinder a movement if not properly weaponized, he said.

Barbie Unveils Aviator Bessie Coleman Doll in ‘Inspiring Women’ Line

My Modern Met

In the 1920s, very few Americans had even set foot in an airplane. But lucky viewers across the states just might have caught an epic show by “Queen Bess,” also known as Bessie Coleman. 

The daring pilot broke dual barriers of gender and race, becoming the first Black and Native American female aviator. Her aerial loops made her famous in life; but almost 100 years after her tragic death in a plane accident in 1926, she is just as inspiring. 

Mattel has added to Coleman’s long list of post-humous tributes by sculpting the aviator into a Barbie doll for their Inspiring Women series.

The doll—designed with poseable joints by Carlyle Nuera—comes dressed in a historical flight suit and cap. The inspiring toy allows young minds to explore Coleman’s adventures for themselves. Adult collectors can also appreciate the authentic appearance and certificate of authenticity. Coleman joins other legends immortalized in Barbie plastic, including Tina Turner, Madam C.J. Walker, Jane Goodall, Queen Elizabeth II, pandemic nurses and doctors, Naomi Osaka, Maya Angelou, and Susan B. Anthony.

Like the other women in the growing series, Coleman spent her life making a name for herself, resulting in an enduring legacy. Born in 1892 in Texas to a family of 13 children, her early life was spent picking cotton and washing laundry to help her family get by in the segregated South. Coleman saved up to attend college, but could only afford one semester. 

After that she tried beauty school in Chicago. However, when her brothers came back from fighting in Europe during World War I, she discovered her true passion. They told her about French women learning to fly airplanes, something not seen in America. Coleman felt a calling. She applied to countless American schools, but none would accept her as a Black woman.

To pursue her dreams, Coleman had to learn French and write applications to French flight schools. Eventually she was admitted to attend the Caudron Brothers’ School of Aviation in Le Crotoy, France. She received her pilot’s license at last in 1921 from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. 

Meet the NFL’s First Black Woman Super Bowl Coach

The year’s biggest sporting event already boasts a significant “first” for Black women.

At Super Bowl LVII, Coach Autumn Lockwood will become the first Black woman to ever coach during a Super Bowl, as she joins the Philadelphia Eagles on the field. As the NFL put it in their Instagram post on Lockwood, “What an achievement.”

After sharing the NFL announcement via her Twitter account, Lockwood took a moment to honor “all women in sports that have led the way and have been the light for me and so many others” in a tweet for National Women and Girls in Sports Day.

Others also took to Twitter to share their excitement, naming her a “trailblazer” and vowing to root for her on the big day. And as one sports analyst noted, “We’re still making history in Black History Month.”

In addition to being the first Black woman to coach during a Super Bowl game, Lockwood is also just the fourth woman to do so overall. The first was Katie Sowers, who went to the big game with the San Francisco 49ers in 2020. 

Lockwood works for the Eagles as an assistant sports performance coach, and first joined the organization last August. Prior to that, she held director and coordinator roles at the University of Houston and East Tennessee State University, as well as internships with the Atlanta Falcons and sportswear giant Nike.

First Black-Owned Resort Community in Wisconsin Gets State Historical Marker


On Lake Ivanhoe in Walworth County, Black history is everywhere.

“You can relax. You can sit on the lake and fish,” Peter Baker said. “I was an avid hunter, raised and trained hunting dogs– so it was basically just the experience of the outdoors,” he explained.

Even the streets in the small community just east of Lake Geneva pay homage to Black historic figures like the first person killed in the Boston Massacre and John Baptiste DuSable, known as the founder of Chicago.

“How special it was being an African American-founded community at that time, and there weren’t a lot in the Midwest and pretty much not in the United States,” Baker said.

Baker has been coming to Lake Ivanhoe since he was 10. More than 50 years later, he’s now the president of the Lake Ivanhoe Property Owners Association, working to make sure its history is never forgotten.

Lake Ivanhoe was founded in 1926 by Jeremiah Brumfield, Frank Anglin and Bradford Watson. The lake was the perfect retreat for the group of friends from Chicago looking for a safe, peaceful getaway.

Over the years, it became known as a Black mecca in the Midwest, giving generations of families the opportunity to socialize with each other and experience Wisconsin’s great outdoors.

“Wisconsin is famous for its lakes and recreation, outdoor recreation,” Baker said. “And so that was really important. And that’s what Lake Ivanhoe is.”

Nearly 100 years after its founding, a community clubhouse stands where the original Lake Ivanhoe clubhouse once stood. A park allows for the occasional picnic, and Baker says the fishing on Lake Ivanhoe remains just as good as it’s ever been. Recently, the Wisconsin State Historical Society recognized Lake Ivanhoe with a permanent marker; part of their efforts in making sure the state’s historical markers are inclusive of all communities.

Jennifer Hudson donates to Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee


Jennifer Hudson visited Milwaukee and made a stop at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.

Excited children were able to ask Hudson questions. One question posed was, “What advice would you give us to be successful?”

Her answer: Believe in yourself. No one knows your potential the way you do and if you keep at that dream, it has no choice but to give in.

The Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award winner donated $5,000 worth of sports equipment to the nonprofit. The organization provides a safe place for children to learn and play after school.

“I love the babies so you know I couldn’t come all this way and not bring y’all a gift,” Hudson said.

“I think it’s really nice that Jennifer Hudson gave us $5,000 for Boys and Girls Club,” said 8-year-old Bella Chapa. “I couldn’t make that much in a day.”

Donald Driver Partnership with Marcus Center Welcomes Diverse Youth to the Arts

Milwaukee Business Journal

Former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver has called the state of Wisconsin a second home for over two decades since he was drafted by the team in 1999. Upon retiring in 2012, he remained close with the state and the many Packers cheeseheads who welcomed him in, frequently attending cultural, sporting and philanthropic events in Green Bay and Milwaukee.

But Driver said he had never stepped foot in the Marcus Performing Arts Center until he became the organization’s first-ever cultural ambassador in July of 2021.

“At that moment, I felt like this is where we all belong,” Driver said. “We have to know that we’re welcomed. If we feel that way, then we’ve done our part, and so we’re going to welcome everybody that wants to come in these doors because there is so much talent that’s out there, especially in the inner city. We want to make sure these kids have this opportunity.”

Most recently, Driver returned to Milwaukee to participate in a three-day residency with Step Afrika!, the first professional dance company dedicated to the African American tradition of stepping. The dances are a blend of traditional West and South African dances and steps popular with African American Greek life. The residency included an intermediate dance workshop, a roll call showcase with the Divine 9 Greek organizations of the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Milwaukee and a student matinee performance.

Marcus Performing Arts Center’s new vice president of programming and engagement Jared Duymovic said that the four-year partnership with Driver is an authentic representation of the goal of the performing arts center, to welcome more diverse audiences, especially young audiences into the world of performing arts.

The connection between Step Afrika! and Greek life hold additional significance for Driver. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha at Alcorn State University in Mississippi.

Fellow Alpha Phi Alpha member and Howard University graduate Brian Williams founded Step Afrika! in 1994.

Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts React to Being First Black Quarterbacks to Face Off at a Super Bowl: ‘History’


Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes are excited to make history when they become the first Black quarterbacks to meet in a Super Bowl.

While Black quarterbacks have played in and won Super Bowls, no other has featured a pair of Black starting quarterbacks. Hurts, whose appearance in the 2023 Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Arizona will be his first, spoke to USA Today about the monumental moment.

“It is history,” said the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback. “It’s come a long way.”

Mahomes, of the Kansas City Chiefs, is making his third Super Bowl appearance. He told USA Today that the game is “special” for him, considering the significant element.

“I’ve learned more and more about the history of Black quarterbacks since I’ve been in this league and the guys that came before me and Jalen [Hurts] set the stage for this,” Mahomes explained.

The 27-year-old says he is proud that he can continue to pave the way for future Black quarterbacks in the league. “I’m glad we can set the stage for kids that are coming up now,” he said.

Mahomes, who is just one of three Black quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl, led the Chiefs to a title in 2020 over the San Francisco 49ers but came up short the following year in a loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Who Was Yasuke, Japan’s First Black Samurai?

Smithsonian Magazine

Seconds into the first episode of the Netflix anime “Yasuke,” viewers witness a massacre. Hundreds of warriors lie dead near the Honnoji Temple in Kyoto, Japan. The year is 1582, and flames envelop the area surrounding the fallen.

Inside the temple, a Black samurai named Yasuke has a tense conversation with the Japanese daimyo (warlord) Oda Nobunaga. While Nobunaga is resigned to his fate, Yasuke remains hopeful the pair can evade their enemies and live to fight another day. “All that is left for me is an honorable death,” Nobunaga tells Yasuke. The daimyo pierces a sword through his own abdomen before asking Yasuke what he’s waiting for. Letting out a loud scream, the samurai lifts his sword to decapitate Nobunaga, completing the warlord’s ritual suicide, or seppuku.

Though the Netflix series introduces several mystical elements—including giant flying robots, magical armies and weaponized laser beams—the broad strokes of its depiction of the Honnoji Incident are historically accurate. Yasuke was an African warrior in the employ of Nobunaga, a powerful feudal lord known as the “Great Unifier,” during Japan’s Sengoku period. The first Black samurai, he was at Nobunaga’s side when the daimyo died; according to popular lore, Nobunaga tasked Yasuke with returning his head to his son.

Beyond his relationship with the famous warlord, Yasuke was a barrier-breaking figure in his own right. Though his life is poorly documented, his story speaks to the surprising cultural connections that existed in 16th-century Japan.

“Yasuke crossed geographic, cultural and linguistic barriers to create—whether by necessity or design—a new life in a foreign land,” says Natalia Doan, a historian at the University of Oxford.