2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
February 6, 2017 - Introduced by Senators L. Taylor and Johnson, cosponsored by
Representatives Young, Fields, Bowen and Crowley. Referred to Committee
on Senate Organization.
SJR7,1,1 1Relating to: proclaiming February 2017 as Black History Month.
SJR7,1,32 Whereas, Americans have recognized black history annually since 1926, first
3as “Negro History Week" and later as “Black History Month"; and
SJR7,1,64 Whereas, we are commemorating the 51st anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights
5Act, which drew from many African Americans taking a positive stance on breaking
6down the barriers to racial equality; and
SJR7,1,97 Whereas, African Americans in Wisconsin have made and continue to make
8outstanding contributions to our communities, and it is important to recognize the
9work of these leaders to combat negative stereotypes; and
SJR7,1,1210 Whereas, Ezekiel Gillespie, born in Tennessee as a slave, purchased his
11freedom to go north; Ezekiel sold groceries and operated a local branch of the
12Underground Railroad, helping hundreds of African Americans escape slavery; and
SJR7,1,1413 Whereas, Ezekiel Gillespie tied faith to the African-American community; he
14helped open Wisconsin's first black church; and
1Whereas, Ezekiel Gillespie also led the charge for African-American suffrage
2when, in 1865, Ezekiel attempted to vote and was denied a ballot, and Ezekiel went
3on to sue for his right to vote in Gillespie v. Palmer, which led to the Wisconsin
4Supreme Court enforcing the 1849 referendum in favor of African-American male
5suffrage; and
SJR7,2,106 Whereas, Clayborn Benson, a native of Milwaukee, faced many challenges as
7an impoverished youth of color; he graduated from the old West Division High School
8despite being labeled “learning disabled;" he became the founder and executive
9director of the Black Historical Society and Museum, which documents and
10preserves the historical heritage of people of African descent in Wisconsin; and
SJR7,2,1611 Whereas, James Hightower III, on June 15, 2013, at the age of 12, became the
12youngest African American in American history to earn the honor of Eagle Scout,
13scouting's highest honor; James Hightower III, for his Eagle Scout service project,
14rebuilt six bleachers at the three baseball fields of Kletzsch Park and led recruitment
15and fundraising efforts for this massive undertaking that enriched the Glendale and
16Milwaukee communities; and
SJR7,2,1917 Whereas, James Hightower III is an inspiration for children and adults in
18Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin for his commitment to bettering communities;
SJR7,2,2320 Whereas, Judge Vel Phillips, in the 1970s, became the first African American
21to serve in the judiciary in the state of Wisconsin, the first woman to serve as a judge
22in Milwaukee County, and was both the first African American and first woman
23elected to a statewide office; and
SJR7,3,224 Whereas, Shanyeill McCloud founded Clean Slate Milwaukee to end
25discrimination by promoting equal access and opportunity for employment, housing,

1and higher education for men and women with nonviolent criminal backgrounds;
SJR7,3,53 Whereas, Keith McQuirter, award winning documentarian, produced
4Milwaukee 53206, which tells the story of those affected by mass incarceration in
5America's most incarcerated zip code; and
SJR7,3,96 Whereas, Eric Von, who tragically passed away in 2016, served as a tremendous
7voice for Milwaukee as host of “Precious Lives” on WUWM radio, WNOV's “The
8Voice,” and co-host of “Black Nouveau” and “Interchange” on Milwaukee Public
9Television; and
SJR7,3,1210 Whereas, Thelmas Sias, who retired as a high-profile executive early this past
11January, has given years of service to the Milwaukee community as a mentor on how
12to challenge and fight through adversity; and
SJR7,3,1413 Whereas, Marcia P. Coggs was the first American Democratic politician who
14served Milwaukee in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1977-1993; and
SJR7,3,1715 Whereas, Lloyd A. Barbee won a major civil rights lawsuit in 1972 that resulted
16in Milwaukee becoming one of the first major Northern cities to integrate its public
17schools; and
SJR7,3,2218 Whereas, Marlene Johnson-Odom, Common Council member from 1980-2004,
19making her the longest-serving female Council member to date, sponsored the
20renaming of N. 3rd St. to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and the creation of
21Milwaukee's Minority Business Enterprise Program and championed developments
22throughout her district, particularly in Brewers Hill; and
SJR7,4,223 Whereas, Dr. James Cameron, only known survivor of an attempted lynching,
24imprisoned for five years following his lynching but eventually officially pardoned
25by the State of Indiana, founded three NAACP chapters and America's Black

1Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, as well as authoring his autobiography, “ A Time
2of Terror"; and
SJR7,4,63 Whereas, Former Representative Tamara Grigsby was a dedicated public
4servant who dedicated herself to improving the lives of children, including
5championing the creation of the Department of Children and Families and the
6YoungStar Program; and
SJR7,4,127 Whereas, many African Americans have served in the legislature, including
8former senators Spencer Coggs, Gary George, Gwendolynne Moore, and Monroe
9Swan and former representatives Lloyd Barbee, Cecil B. Brown Jr., Elizabeth Coggs,
10Marcia P. Coggs, Isaac Coggs, Tamara Grigsby, Raymond Lee Lathan, Johnnie
11Morris-Tatum, Lucien Palmer, Antonio Riley, Le Roy Simmons, Walton Bryan
12Stewart, Barbara Toles, and Robert Turner; and
SJR7,4,1413 Whereas, these individuals were able to achieve these deeds only because of the
14social movement towards racial equality in the past decades; and
SJR7,4,1715 Whereas, because incidents of racism still exist today, it is in the public interest
16to continue to advocate for full inclusion and equality for individuals of color; now,
17therefore, be it
SJR7,4,21 18Resolved by the senate, the assembly concurring, That the Wisconsin
19legislature recognizes February 2017 as Black History Month and extends thanks
20and praise to the above-named persons for their contributions to the state of
21Wisconsin and their fellow citizens.
SJR7,4,2222 (End)