St. Ann Center celebrates Black History Month

February 25, 2016
Friends of St. Ann

Pictured at the Black History Month celebration at St. Ann Bucyrus Campus on Feb. 16. (from left) are Ben Johnson, Dr. Lester Carter, St. Ann Bucyrus Campus Director Diane Beckley, Tejumola Olobani and Dr. William Finlayson.

The new five-month-old Bucyrus campus of the St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care held a special day-long celebration of Black History Month for the local community on February 16.
The Washington Park Choir began the morning program with gospel music that had all generations clapping and singing along. Next staff members from the Bucyrus Campus brought to life famous black history makers, including the Queen of Sheba, who carried the Wisdom of Solomon and the Israelites to her own subjects. Among the many other history makers portrayed was Dorothy Dandridge, the first African American performer to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress; and author, poet, actor, producer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, who died in 2014.
Later in the morning the “Head Start” children learned quotes relating to black heritage and the ongoing struggle for dignity, equality and respect. The children recited the quotes, which also included a dramatization of the story of Rosa Parks, the ‘first lady’ of civil rights.
The afternoon reception was built around the theme of “Decades of Giants” honored living Wisconsin history makers such as Lester Carter, R.Ph., a pharmacist and owner of Carter Drug Store who dedicated his life to the health and welfare of the Milwaukee African American community and who is an honored pioneer in the use of homeopathic treatment of disease. William Finlayson, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist who also taught at both of Wisconsin’s medical schools and opened the state’s first black-owned bank was also honored; as was Irene Goggans, Ph.D., who created an archive that consists of 300 scrapbooks, and Milwaukee County Board Commissioner on Aging Viola (Vi) Hawkins.
Longtime Milwaukee activists, educators and community leaders Reuben and Mildred Harpole were also honored for establishing a scholarship to encourage African Americans to go into teaching; as well as Robert and Pearl Beckley, owners of an independent grocery store which sought to stock healthy food at reasonable prices within the community. Also honored were Gwen T. Jackson, a tireless volunteer for the Red Cross and the YWCA; Ben Johnson, the first African American president of the Milwaukee Common Council; and Vel Phillips, a Wisconsin lawyer who served as Wisconsin’s first non-white judge and non-white Secretary of State.
“Each one of these people has made history in a public way,” said Bucyrus campus Chief Operating Officer Diane Beckley. “What they have accomplished has improved and enriched all of us.”
St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus has experienced tremendous growth since its grand opening. This growth is driven by a desire to nuture the heart of the community by providing necessary services, shopping and employment within walking distance of members’ homes.