Archive for September, 2018


I want to address all the students of MPS. And no, the adults do not count in this one. I want to address this with you because of what was said about you that made you upset. It’s a matter of stating that what James Widgerson calling you collectively “little convicts” was very disturbing. He is an indeed a racist calling you that. So with that, here is a blog letter for you. 

Dear students of MPS:

It’s me, Stephen. And I am an Alum of the Milwaukee Public Schools.

In the last couple of days, and weeks you have been in the classrooms and I must say I wish your semester well. But in the last day and a half, you have been attacked by a grown man who labeled you as “little convicts” over the performance that continues to give the district of MPS a bad name. And the man that said it was a former students way older than you and I put together. The man, James Wigderson as I speak of was way out of line labeling you as failures being set up for the jail system. We knew what he said in his blog story. And what he said to the majority of you was again clearly stupid. It’s not your fault. And by the way, he’s an alum of MPS.

One of the Milwaukee Youth Council members had really to speak out on this matter and I must applaud the young lady, Emoni Gambrell-Toliver a student from Riverside University High School and President of the Youth Council for a chance to do that. If you have not read her statement regarding this matter, it’s a must read! Even if you are a critic of MPS.

I really hope that the build-up from all of this will decrease and also the value of our education in Milwaukee continue to rise up and prove those that it can be viable just like the outline areas outside of Milwaukee.

But we all know that today, James Wigderson was not apologizing for his remarks in the blog. He also stated that his words as a whole were not directed towards the entire students of MPS. It was about this one player, that went to Washington High School. I have to say that it was not factual. He knew what he was talking about. But just don’t want to deny that part of the truth of hating on all of you that WANT to make a difference in the world. Yes, I will agree he was hateful. He also claims that he backed school choice and charter schools and such. But he was not solid on you in general! For an extra commentary, he’s a coward. And even though his last days of education was at Vincent High School, I want to be clear that he has some soul searching in discovering that what he thought he saw was not just a concern, but to also ask what can be done to change it! I hate to say that there are those in the Alumni are real losers. Jealous that the opportunities you’re getting many of us didn’t get. And James is included in this also. He’s a loser! A racist vile hypocritical loser! And he does not care about you.

In the schools, we know there are things are not sharp enough. And I know that we see and read about the negative about MPS. But the thing is, what is missing from all this is positive! We need to read and see about your positive stories of what is going on into the schools. We need to read and see what you’re up to in a positive manner about what is up in the schools. Show us the receipts, as many of you would say! Show them to us at an Open House, a Concert, a Play, or even yes the football field or basketball court. For academics, I know that math, reading, and science are one of the subjects at hand, but show us what you’ve learned! Prove it to yourselves and us that you can do this!

MPS Students, you are indeed the future of our district. Future Alumni, Future Scholars, and future whatever it is that you want to be. Let us know what is happening in your schools. Your Games, Band and Orchestra, Debates, Communications, Mechanical Classes, and many others that you’re doing. Many of us alumni folks are so busy raising families and working to get very busy. We do. And we assumed what is taking place at the schools now is mostly negative. We want you: and I’m giving you an ongoing homework assignment here. I want you to tell us grown people that been there and done it, really tell us what is really going on in the schools. Tell us and show us your open house projects, your performances in concerts in all. Tell us how we the MPS Alumni can still support your schools! Tell us! We need to do this thing!

Before I leave you this message, I want to share this video clip from 1989:

This is from the movie called Lean on Me, which told the story of a high school in New Jersey that was once a prominent best school in the state was going poorly. But the principal played by Morgan Freeman had to do whatever necessary to get the school in the positive form. Morgan Freeman’s character was Joe Clark. And he had to lock down the school, dismiss the bad students that disrupted the school for a lot of years. Mainly drug dealers. He even challenged the students to reach their potential even if he had to make them sing the school song. This movie is based on a true story of a huge turnaround that captured the state of New Jersey. The reason why I put this clip here because Freeman’s Character Joe Clark was describing to the students what the rest of the world or the society thinks about them that want to succeed. Sound familiar?

I encourage all of you, who are high school students to get this movie. If not, ask your parents to get this movie for you and watch it over and over again. Don’t just watch the clips on youtube, watch the WHOLE movie! But I must warn you, it’s a bit graphic, mixed with overtones that might not be suitable for many. BUT GET THIS MOVIE! The prime example of this movie is the same example of this situation right now with MPS.

And also: gain from the “woke” moments of the movie that really stood out. Study them!

Finally, as I close, continue to do the things you do in the schools. Make it happen! EVERYDAY!

Sincerely,

Stephen

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I had to take a break about several segments for a moment to talk to us.

Us as the Alumni of the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Like many, we prided ourselves in response to our Alma Maters in terms of reliving the good days of what we had back then, and of course, we talk about those Class Reunions. That’s what we do. A little of us give back to our Alma Maters in terms of fundraising, sitting in on board meetings discussing important matters, and also a few of us asking about the current status of our old schools. But there are those who are just mad. Really mad about the status being so low in the categories and making a statement about shutting down a school that they once attended years ago, and having a mean streak about calling the current students “little convicts” over a thought of making a new stadium on High School property.

Henceforth: the argument has reached the foot of the Milwaukee Public Schools and also a former MPS Student, James Wigderson an alum of Milwaukee’s Vincent High School fired on his Alma Mater in which got the district and social media’s attention of his rant. James has written a blog article on the Right Wisconsin Website about his “disdain” of the status of his story and of course had to bring in the racist cyberbullying remarks about his commentary.

James writes via the Right Wisconsin Website on all days: September 5th, 2018:

The school has only gotten worse since my days there. The school “fails to meet expectations” according to the state of Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction and it’s not even close. Yet nothing will be done about Vincent and 999 kids will be trapped in a failing school this year. Some students will succeed but the odds are horribly against them. But at least it’s a union school, right?

So imagine my surprise when, thanks to the Facebook page for an upcoming high school reunion, I learned the school is getting a new $5.7 million stadium. The stadium will have artificial grass and a new track for WIAA events. The report I saw didn’t mention metal detectors, but it would be a good idea.

The new stadium is part of an $11 million improvement in athletic facilities for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), presumably so the little convicts can have the best facilities before being sent to the penitentiary.

So the next time someone tells you that MPS needs more money, remind them that more money does not mean a better academic performance. And if they ask for evidence, ask them if $5.7 million could be better spent than on a new stadium for a failing school. And then ask them if the students would be better off with a new track instead of shutting the school down entirely.

At least the artificial turf matches the artificial concern of Wisconsin’s Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers, for the well-being of MPS students. Perhaps the new scoreboard can flash the number of kids being pushed through the system without learning anything – not that any of the students will be able to read it.

Well wasn’t that redundant and stupid. This is supposed to be #MPSProud? Really?

In response, Milwaukee Public Schools offered this comment on the blatant article:

We are proud that MPS is working hard to provide the same access to state-of-the-art facilities for our students as districts in surrounding areas have for theirs. We are proud of the Class of 2018, which earned $86.2 million in scholarships, a new district record. We are proud of our students serving as interns for Harley-Davidson, America’s iconic motorcycle company. We are also proud of our Vincent High School urban agriculture students who were the only students to represent Milwaukee at the Wisconsin State Fair.

MPS is outraged – as every parent in the City of Milwaukee should be – that an adult would feel free to make such a derogatory, hurtful, and dishonest statement about more than 75,000 children.

The author of the article should be ashamed that he is engaging in such offensive cyberbullying, which we are sure he would not tolerate if his children were being discussed in these abusive terms.

We have far too many students who work hard every day and who accomplish great things to let an ill-informed and hateful statement stand without comment. We are MPS proud. 

Denise Callaway

Director, Communications & Marketing

 

OK. Now it’s time for my response: and if a certain right-wing blogger like James is reading this, I have a question for him or her: WHERE WERE YOU?!

You know what, it’s just like any other person who had all the good times of education, there always just that ONE person that has to be so negative about a certain problem, BUT OFFERS NO SOLUTIONS to defuse the problem! James, I know that many of the Vincent High School Alum, as well as the MPS Alumni faithful, does not think like you. You and others that sit out in the freaking suburbs and outline areas with a negative attitude talking smack are just that: Hypocritical Blatant Racists! Yeah, I said it. It’s guys like you that are offering NO SOLUTIONS in helping out MPS. And it’s guys like you that are not lifting a finger or a donation to help out the high school that you once attended. Yeah, of course, you called out your old stomping grounds but the fact of the matter is, you didn’t come out; and remained to be a self-centered bigot in calling the young kids “little convicts” all because of your opinion of the upgrades of Vincent High School.

Maybe if you had the balls, you actually would be able to help mentor the young folks at Vincent to be more productive while they are still high school students and then they might morph into that when reaching adulthood. BUT NO, you had to go negative about a bunch of students that don’t know you. Oh, I’ve heard that they don’t forget stuff like this. As you age James, I hope they don’t take away your Medicare or your Social Security because when they get older, mark my words: they will never forget! And second, when was the last time you visited the School? When was the last time you sat in a public meeting at the school? When was the last time you listened to the Alumni Association about the ideas to support the school? Oh, I’m sorry Vincent does have an Alumni Committee, duh! When was the last time James that you ACTUALLY CARED about your Alma Mater of giving back?!! When?! Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

You’re just like the rest who get mad about being left out of Class Reunions, had to vent your personal feelings and actually attack those who don’t know you. And also you’re just like those who complain about the Fiserv. Forum, and the Milwaukee Streetcar. Sorry James: it’s not all about you! And since you want to give a care: why attack Vincent? And just for the record, I’m not a Vincent Alum. Never went there. Didn’t cheer for your beloved Vikings. But I know some Vincent Viking Alums that are doing way better than you! And I know MANY MPS ALUMNI MEMBERS that are doing WAY BETTER than your own bigoted mess on a right winged blog. And if you think that for one split second is going to get you famous: wrong dude. It just made you realize that you just messed up. And by the way, the kids are watching. Speaking of that, the Milwaukee Youth Council just called you out! And many of them are MPS Students!

Wanna be a bigger man? Apologize to MPS. Apologize to the school, the students, staff, parents, and ALUMNI of your Vincent High School. Even the MPS Alumni Groups. But I doubt you won’t even try. And that goes for anyone else that thinks they are in agreement of this matter.

MAJOR CALLOUT: If you honestly feel this way in a racist manner, keep your butt at home! Don’t come to the reunions. Don’t donate to the cause. Don’t mentor or make internships. Tear off your Alma Mater colors and just resign and QUIT!

End of rant.


It’s officially open for business. The new $550,000.000 plus something Fiserv.Forum is now available. It’s now available for every Bucks game, Golden Eagles game, Concert, Monster Truck rally, WWE Live Event, and potentially a 2020 Democratic National Convention. This was in the making little over two years ago in a process of keeping “the Milwaukee Bucks as the Milwaukee Bucks”. There was a speculation about the city losing the team to other cities like Seattle and others needing a NBA team. Just to recap a little, that Milwaukee has been in this position before; in terms with the Brewers with the building of Miller Park. What was that slogan? “BUILD IT NOW!” Remember that? Hope so. So with this thing with the new Bucks playhouse, not everyone wasn’t happy about “oh this is going to cost us taxpayers yet again.” And yes it wasn’t a glorious decision to create, design and build it from the ground up, but it’s here. The new arena sits near 6th Street and Juneau in the Area of MATC (my old tech college), the Brewery Housing Complex that used to brew Pabst Beer back in the day, a Hyatt Hotel, additional housing near the Hillside Area, and next area of land that used to be the Park East Freeway.
And yet while it’s still standing, the 30-year-old Bradley Center will be dust in general. Let me recap this: The first time I saw it under construction was 1988 at age 11. I was getting out of Grade School then and my older sibling was getting out of High School. I remember going to a Ninja Turtle Concert, a couple of Bucks Games, Job Fairs, and even WWE Wrestling Matches. The first one I went to was in 1992 along with my late uncle and living cousins. We had a ball! And most importantly, attending the first MPS Alumni Reunion in 2016. Oh yes, I remember the Bradley. And plus the Bradley Center was a gift by Jane and Lloyd Pettit to the city for extra entertainment and sports. And extra room for those attending. The Bradley Center’s seating capacity can hold up to at least 18,000 plus.
But let’s go forward with the new thing. This new arena took about two years to build. And when it was under construction, the architecture along with the jobs was on point. And when I looked and visited the arena this past Sunday, along with those of us coming out of the church, I knew it was going to be jammed packed. Long lines of cars, parking lots almost full, etc. When I got to the arena, at least to the outside portion many of us had to be checked through Security, which is a common thing in Arenas now. After that, I like many proceeded to the main entrance of the Vel R. Phillips Avenue side to gain entry into the building. Oh when I walked into the structure: I was amazed. I was amazed at the texture of the building’s walls, designs, entryway and access to the side restaurants to the building. The Bucks Pro Shop is in the Arena. So like many others with cameras, I had to bust out my Nikon and started snapping. But with my Cell Phone Camera, at first: I had to restart the blasted thing because when I tried to use it, there were security features in the arena that popped up like this:


I’m like, come on now. NOT TODAY!

But when I restarted the Cell Phone, it was normal as usual.

Anyway, after all that, the main portion of the arena I wanted to see was the basketball court itself. The inside portion was at more spaced out than I thought. The scoreboard was legit with state of the art technology. And according to one of the workers, there are cameras underneath the scoreboard if you are sitting near center court. How awesome! As I got near to the upper mezzanine area, the view began to be more interesting as I went further. And I got to the point of the arena that it was almost like this:

SSP_FiservForumDebut2018

And I thought this was the spot. It was good for the Mezzanine view. But I heard also that the Arena has a “Panoramic Level” in which you get to see everything! All around! I know that many that seen it, probably have been in the area, but the fact of the matter is, it’s the real spot of the area that many photo hogs need not miss. I didn’t get the chance to see that part, but I’ve heard from others, it’s a good spot in the Arena! I’m just saying. Put that on your Facebook Photos or Instagram Pics or whatever. Put that on your blog postings. Not mine, YOURS! Don’t copy anyone’s pics from Facebook or Google photos. Get your camera, or your smartphone, go to the arena and get to an event and put up your Panoramic Views on and credit YOUR WORK! I’m just saying.

Towards the ending of the tour, I like everyone else, saw some of the entertainment that was part of the City’s first ever Hip Hop Week Events, and also some of the local vendors like Sconnie, Palmetto’s My World Images: the company that make the Milwaukee State of Mind Shirts, Harley-Davidson, and many others that most are locally based in the city to check out. So yes, it’s a good start of the “christening” of the Fiserv Forum for this year. Now many are asking, why the name Fiserv? Actually, Fiserv is a local company that is in Wisconsin; Mainly in Brookfield. Its main connection is with IT Financial Services that is generally known in different parts of the world. So when the naming of the arena was floating around, we thought about Miller, Harley-Davidson, Northwestern Mutual and others that we know that are well known around Milwaukee. But Fiserv? That was not thought about, but it is what it is. So if anyone is still curious what Fiserv does, the company has websites and social media pages.


If anything today while at work and the classroom taught us today, it’s about one word: Respect.

We all just witnessed the homegoing, or funeral of Aretha Franklin. Whom we all know died 2 weeks ago in her home in Detroit at 76 years old. And to think that she died on the same day decade wise as Elvis Presley, whom passed at 42 in 1977. The fact of the matter is, Aretha you really can’t say too much about her. And yes she had her “rival” moments selling the shade of those wanting to get into her personal realm. But all in all, respect was the keyword.

Like many artists before her, she was raised in the church. Her father was a minister in the south before migrating north to Detroit. And yes, we all know about Detroit and the Motown Sound which also escalated during the Civil Rights Movement. Like many others in the famous side, she was honorary pledged into the black sorority of Delta Sigma Theta, and I’m sure many that heard about this sorority, like assuming. If not check with your friends whom are apart of the Divine 9. Plus the Deltas had conducted a “Omega Omega Service” for their departed honorary Sorority Sister. Now if anyone has been to a funeral in which a Fraternity or Sorority member is funeralized, they usually have a moment of reflection and towards the end, they declare that the deceased member is apart of the “Omega Chapter.” Omega is the end, by the way. Many of us will have an Omega Service in a somewhat fashion in our departure.

Now, we know the hits from Respect, Pink Cadillac, A Rose is Still A Rose, Rock Steady, and even many Gospel hits. Winning numerous awards, even acted movies like The Blues Brothers. For her live performances, we can talk about the Grammys, President Obama’s Inauguration Day ceremonies, and such. But I also saw her doing renditions of America the Beautiful on which wrestling program you asked? WrestleMania. Both at the Pontiac Silverdome and also Ford Field. Now I want to say something here. When I looked at the WWE Facebook Page about her, many of the “WWE Universe” had no idea who she was. Like really. For all of you wrestling fans who don’t know Aretha, does the WWE Network still work? I’m just asking! Do you still google in all? Hello!! Do any of your relatives or black folks you know have any Aretha Franklin songs or albums in the house? You better study! You better ask questions! And that goes for those whom are under 21 and into trap music.

Fast forward to the long nine hour funeral. Oh yeah it was long! If many folks complain about long church services, I’m sure you probably complained about the long preaching, long songs, testimony off script, the eulogy didn’t match up well enough, the dozen of families, dignitaries, special guests, folks protesting about (oops) Donald Trump, and oh it wasn’t just a Homegoing, it was also a time for action of what’s going on in the country. Oh yeah have we heard this before when Coretta Scott King was remembered? And George W. Bush was hammered! Don’t act like we know!

Some of the positive highlights of the service:

Rev. Al Sharpton and his comments about mistakenly spelling respect and telling folks that Donald Trump should use the word describing Aretha.

 

Rev. Jesse Jackson and the part of him commenting about famous deaths and minimal voting lines.

 

Michael Eric Dyson and that knowledge. Plus the shade on 45:

 

These to me were the highlights of the funeral as Aretha was remembered. And yet, even many questioned it. But it had to be said at this funeral because of what the country is going through despite the commentary of 45. You say, what was all the Civil Rights and Activism about? This is supposed to be a funeral! Um….it has happened before. Reference AGAIN Coretta Scott King’s Funeral from 2005 and there was a lot of talk about George W. Bush’s blunders of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and many others. Go back and read it.

Now, music-wise: I’m not going to say, Ariana Grande. But I will say, Jennifer Holiday, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, and yes Stevie Wonder. All to me were the highlighted singers that cameout to perform.

Plus we cannot forget, Cicely Tyson who was the oldest in the room giving the knowledge and truth as she always does. When Cicely Tyson talks, we all better listen.

Of course the funeral couldn’t be without the commentary from her family mainly her Grandchildren whom were raised well. And yes there was support from the men, whom looked after Aretha to check on her to make sure that things were well kept and taken care of. Oh, by the way the men were black looking out for the Queen!

Now let me shift back to Ariana: And that touching thing….let me say this: the bishop who of course apologized to Ariana had his hand according to the live footage, was near Ariana’s breast. And many called foul that he shouldn’t have his hand near there, and of course many of the former church crowd cried foul of the hand as well. And if you are of the “former church crowd” that pisses on the church so much, why does this concern you? And I’ll agree sharply that the way it was: totally disrespectful. But as a bigger man, the bishop did infact apologize. He was in the wrong. And of course that when things go wrong on live TV, they go wrong! So yet he did apologize. However, many were calling for his head to be charged or sued of the “illegal touch”. Dude, he hasn’t been charged! There was no indication about him going to jail, or facing court. Until I see any DOCUMENTED PROOF about him being charged, and found guilty, and having his title and leadership stripped, and being banned from his church in all, then you can kick his butt! I haven’t heard the remarks of Ariana. She hasn’t said anything. Not one sentence. Nothing! Come on #MeToo movement! Where are you? And keep in mind that the jury is still out. And here’s the thing: many of us don’t know the Bishop Charles Ellis III well. We don’t! We don’t know him, his education, his family, his finances, and justly we don’t know if he went through a background check.

So if you call these Pastors “janky” after one tiny mistake, that is out of bounds. We don’t know him! Even you non/former church goers should know better! And no I’m not defending him.

And as far as the minister who did the eulogy Rev. Jasper Williams. I will agree that eulogies should be about the deceased. All the way. But if you eulogize or give your final analysis of a person that is not matching, it’s not cutting it. This reminds me of my cousin’s funeral from 2002 in Milwaukee that the minister gave the eulogy but his comments was about George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. But it was not about my departed cousin, who was killed at 21 years old in late July of that year! So I get where the Franklin Family is coming from on that part. On the other hand, the minister’s sermon was like the talk of the town. Folks still slamming it. Then there was a news conference about what was said. This is stupid! Was it a slow news day? Of all the things popped up on Social Media, as well as news outlets, you have this man, this minister had to further explain his eulogy of Aretha Franklin to a worldwide audience after mostly it was sharply criticized. You got to be kidding me! In the words of my Dad. Again, like the bishop, we don’t know him nor done a background check! Many folks already said that he told the truth. In regarding black households not up to par of what was previously. And many houses need to turn back into homes. And to think, partially many kind of missed the mark completely.

I hate to say it but many of you whom are sensitive at darn near everything, and I know many of you are in school and college: Take a class on Public Speaking! Please take that course! Not only take the course, but also learn about “tone”. I’m not talking about music tones, I’m talking about tones in the speech. “Tone” is related to attitude. Um….hello! Learned that back in high school in the 1990s, actually my Senior Year called American Authors. And one of the items for discussion was: “On the Pulse of the Morning” by Maya Angelou from 1993. It’s 25 years old now, but still it’s one of the best toned poems out of the 20th Century. Oh, it was Bill Clinton’s Inauguration.

What will go from here? Besides Aretha’s music. Her videos from the Blues Brothers singing Think. Us Milwaukeeans remember her performing at Summerfest 3 times and the last time I saw Aretha perform was at Summerfest in 1996. And the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra was on stage at the time, during the 4th of July holiday. I kind of shy away from that, but now after her passing, I was glad to see her perform but also glad to see a piece of black history. A piece of Civil Rights History. She was woke before woke was a thing. Not only she was woke and conscious, she acted on it. Not just saying some one liners to get all engaged. Like many before, its hard to pickup the torch and carry it forward for another era. But I think that we know that Aretha’s lessons of her life and entertainment will long be remembered and really can’t say nothing bad about it. We can’t. Now some may argue about her not having a will or not being married. But the fact of the matter is, her mark was felt by many those who packed that church on that August 31st morning, and mostly stayed for 9 hours. And the broadcasts like BET or Bounce TV having to stay on for the 9 hour duration. Plus, even having the now former TV One host Roland Martin filling us in with the summaries via Twitter. Look: I need to say something. When I was looking at my Twitter feeds, there were dumb questions on why Roland was tweeting during a funeral. I think we all know that he is a journalist. And part of what he did, Aretha liked! There were times folks called me out for Tweeting in Church, but guess what it is part of my communications ministry. It’s part of my job! So to those whom say that, I dare you to try it. See how it feels. Oops, I’m sorry, many of you are sensitive! Just let us do our jobs and you can do yours. If you have one.

Overall: between the 4 dress changes, performances, Pink Cadillac Cars, poems, proclamations in all, it was really about one word: R-E-S-P-E-C-T!