Milwaukee’s African American Trailblazers (Conclusion)

March 4, 2021

This month, this column has highlighted Milwaukee’s African American Trailblazers. In the final installment, we salute Senator Lena Taylor, Cecilia Gore and the legacy of the late Isaac and Marcia P. Coggs.

Senator Lena Taylor

A life-long Milwaukee resident, Senator Lena Taylor is serving her third term in the Wisconsin State Senate, representing the 4th Senate District, including northern portions of the City of Milwaukee, which encompasses the historic Riverwest, Harambee, and Rufus King neighborhoods, as well as the communities of Shorewood, Glendale, and Wauwatosa.

First elected to political office in 2003 in the Wisconsin Assembly, Senator Taylor fights unrelentingly for her constituents’ rights. She won a special election for a seat in the State Assembly and soon after was elected to the State Senate. Senator Taylor is the thousandth senator in the state of Wisconsin, twentieth woman, fifth African American, and only the second African American woman to serve in the State Senate.

Reaching out to children and young adults struggling with the same choices that she herself faced growing up in Milwaukee, Senator Taylor frequently visits schools, youth development programs, and churches, spreading her message of responsible decision-making, commitment to education, and ambitious pursuit of dreams.

Senator Taylor has received accolades for her work including: the Becky Young Community Justice Award in 2009, an award for being committed to fighting for Criminal Justice Reform and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Legislative Advocate Award in 2010, among others. Senator Taylor is also a devoted mother to her son Isaiah and a mentor to many.

Cecilia Gore

Cecilia Gore is the first African American woman to serve as the Executive Director of the Brewers Community Foundation which is the charitable arm of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club. This foundation provides financial support to nonprofit organizations that provide quality programming in the areas of health, education, recreation and basic needs, with a particular focus on low income and disadvantaged youth and their families.


Isaac and Marcia P. Coggs

Mr. and Mrs. Coggs were trailblazers in their own right. Isaac Coggs served 12 years in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

Marcia P. Coggs served in the Wisconsin State Senate and she was the first African American woman elected to the State Assembly. Marcia Coggs was also the first African American to sit on the State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. Many of the committees she served on were focused on children, families and employment. The Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center near 12 and Vliet Streets and the Isaac Coggs Heritage Center are two of the buildings named after these amazing pioneers. Today, several family members have followed Isaac and Marcia P. Coggs’ legacy, currently and formerly serving in public service and elected offices such as Elizabeth Coggs, Spencer Coggs, Leon Young and Milele Coggs. _________________

Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center

Beloved, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the number of African Americans who have served and are leaving a legacy as trailblazers. The work of these men and women are opening doors formerly closed by others. We owe it to these trailblazers to continue to educate ourselves and our children of the contributions made by so many African American men and women past and present, not just during the month of February, but all during the year!

Lena Taylor:

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