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WisDems: ICYMI: Engage Black voters in Milwaukee with roundtable discussion

MADISON, Wis. — Earlier this month, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison joined Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley for a roundtable discussion to engage with Black voters in Milwaukee and highlight how Democrats are working to reduce inequalities and advance opportunities for the Black community. 

Read more of the the discussion between Black Democratic Leaders below: 

Milwaukee Courier: Wisconsin Democrats Engage Black Voters in Milwaukee with Roundtable Discussion

By: Karen Stokes

Wisconsin Democrats continue efforts to gain support among Black voters with a roundtable discussion Saturday in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin Democrats hosted Black Men Chats with DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and WNOV On the Porch Radio Host Kwabena Nixon. 

“It’s called Black Men Chat. It’s directed to Black issues and how we can really help the community best,” said Key Jennings, Coalitions Manager for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

“These are conversations about Black men. We are going out to vote for the presidential election. What happens in DC does affect us but it’s nothing like what affects you here on 5th and Burleigh. There are some Black men that have no idea that this event is going down because they’re disenfranchised. There are young men that don’t know how to plug in,” Nixon said.

When asked why we should vote, the Black men identified challenges they face, such as economic opportunities, upward mobility, representation in positions of power, racial profiling, access to capital, mental health issues, trauma, racism, lack of hope, access to resources, and home ownership.

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, the first Black chairperson selected by a president, shared a personal story to explain his dedication to the work he does.

Raised by his grandparents in South Carolina, his grandmother had an 8th-grade education, she picked cotton and cleaned houses and his grandfather had a 4th-grade education.

“They taught me the value of hard work. My grandfather taught me to protect my name,” Harrison said.

When Harrison was in 6th grade, his grandparents lost their home to fraud, and his grandfather lost his job. Harrison felt helpless and realized that bad credit is the barrier to the American dream. He promised to one day buy them a house. He later attended Yale, supported by a community businessman who helped him get a loan. Harrison graduated, attended Georgetown for law school, and bought his grandparents a house in 2004.

“I do this work for my grandparents,” Harrison said.

“There’s power in vulnerability, there’s power in building a connection and you have the opportunity to learn something so deep about a person it allows you to fight even harder for that person,” Crowley acknowledged.

Crowley shared his story. He’s the youngest person and first African American to be elected Milwaukee County Executive.

“I grew up on 23rd and Burleigh, 22nd and Brown, 24th and Lloyd, 29th and Walnut, and 34th and Good Hope. My story is about housing insecurity, mental health and drug addiction because that’s where I come from. When I think about my story, it’s also a story of resilience. So why do I do this? I believe God put me in this position,” Crowley said.

“My father was a master electrician, my mother was a Jane-of-all-trades, and they did everything they could to take care of us, but mental health and drug addiction were detrimental to them,” Crowley explained. “They eventually got clean, but we lost our homes. We moved every year from ages 15 to 24. MPS was my stability. When I was a junior in high school, I got involved with Urban Underground, which taught me how to love myself and my community. I wanted to give back to the same community that saved my life.”

Crowley has been in this seat under both Trump and Biden and highlights the differences. He admits he would have never seen the investment in housing under Trump. There were over 15,000 families in their homes prevented from eviction under Biden. Milwaukee has been able to invest in more single family homes being built in the city because of President Biden. He believes there’s no way it would be done under Trump.

Nixon stated that there’s a concern about the apathy of young people voting and questioned if they should vote for Biden.

There is also a concern that Democrats need to market their successes better to the American people. Their message is being drowned out by the spectacle of Trump’s conviction.

Harrison shared examples of the differences between the two candidates.

“The stark difference is one person is actually speaking to the future of this country and who we can become. The other wants to live in the past.

“Under the Trump administration most of all of the PPP loans went to big banks; it did not go to the community banks,” Harrison said. “Small Black barber shops, beauticians, grocery stores needed loans but didn’t get them until Joe Biden got in the White House and Democrats had control of the House and Senate. From the PPP loans under Trump, there were 1700 loans for small Black businesses $592 million, under Biden 4781 loans, $1.4 billion. Also, Child poverty was cut in half the first year of the Biden Administration because of the tax child credit.”

Harrison said Biden could have stopped with the American Rescue Plan, but then came the Infrastructure Law, with the largest infrastructure bill since Eisenhower, $1.2 trillion. In Wisconsin, $6 billion to projects in the state for the first time. In addition, Biden has forgiven $157 million in student loans.

Crowley added that Democrats are not going to win this election without Black women and men showing up to vote.

A new Marquette Law School Poll national survey of registered voters reported May 23, 2024 finds President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are tied with 50% each in a two-candidate matchup.

Wisconsin is now considered a critical swing state ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

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