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Feb. 21 Program: African American Environmental Pioneer Awards Announces Keynote Speaker, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes
In recognition of Black History Month, the African American Environmental Pioneer Awards is in its third year recognizing those in Milwaukee’s African American community working for a better environment.
The organizing committee is proud to announce that Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will deliver the keynote address honoring the awardees. Brenda Coley, Co-Director of Milwaukee Water Commons will provide a brief Milwaukee Environmental Justice update and Dr. Sylvia Wilson of Teens Grow Greens will present ideas for future collaboration.
Due to COVID-19, this will be an online event starting at 6:30 pm, Monday, February 21st. To attend the event, participants must register to get the link, at http://bit.ly/green-pioneers-2022.
This year’s event will begin with a virtual lobby, with music and slideshow at 6:15 p.m. At 6:30 p.m. Event Chair Yvonne McCaskill will make opening remarks. Drummer Jahmés Finlayson will perform the “Call to Ceremony” to begin the program which will be Emceed by Nearby Nature Program Director Steven Hunter. The program will be broadcast online from the Wisconsin Black History Society Museum. Speakers and awardees will have the option to attend in person.
Awards are being presented to 11 individuals. The honorees are:
Rick Banks: Co-Founder, MKE Black
Antoine Carter: Imagine MKE
Lamont Smith: The Nature Conservancy
Rafael Smith: Climate Equity Director, Citizen Action
Reverend Michelle Townsend De Lopez Pastor, Cross Lutheran Church
Rising Star Awards
Milton L. Byers III: Wild Indigo Coordinator – Milwaukee, Audubon Great Lakes
Jalen Greenlee: Founder of FLORA
Detaya Johnson: Urban Agriculturist, Educator
Danitra Jones: Northwest Side CDC
Nateya Taylor: Founder, Naesthetycs LLC, Urban Studies MS Student
Danielle Washington: HN-Development, UWM – Public Health grad
The group has adopted the Ashanti Adinkra symbol “Asase Ye Duru” meaning “The Earth has Weight”, symbolizing the providence and divinity of Mother Earth.
This event is free and open to the public. Participants must register in advance at bit.ly/green-pioneers-2022.
At the inaugural event in 2020, the celebration was just weeks before the Covid-19 lockdown and was held at the Wisconsin Black History Society/Museum. It featured a call to ceremony by drummers from Ko-Thi African Dance Company. Brenda Coley of Milwaukee Water Commons was the featured speaker and addressed the need for society to be more inclusive in what is known as “the commons,” public spaces and resources that belong to all of us. Spoken word artist Kevon Cortez Jones and a hip-hop music video celebrating clean water by students at True Skool provided more cultural entertainment. 11 community environmental pioneers were recognized for their work.
A news story on the inaugural 2020 event can be found at this link:
In 2021, the event was forced to go virtual but was no less moving and inspirational. 13 awardees spoke of their diverse work, from community gardening, to fighting the lead crisis and climate change. The 2020 featured speaker was pioneering Harlem poet Dahveed Nelson, a member of the Last Poets, credited for work that led to the emergence of hip-hop.
A news story on the second annual 2021 event can be read at this link:
Event Committee and organizing sponsors
David Thomas, Nearby Nature Milwaukee (contact)
Terry Evans, Urban Ecology Center – Washington Park
Cassandra Flagg, Green & Healthy Communities LLC
Steven Hunter, Nearby Nature Milwaukee
Yvonne McCaskill, Triangle Neighborhood Association
Sierra Club Great Waters Group
Teens Grow Greens
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