Black Nouveau | Program | #2524


(gentle chiming) (intense hip hop music) – Welcome to Black Nouveau. This is our edition
for March 8th, 2017. I’m Joanne Williams. You may remember Sam Belton
from the City Net Cafe. His jazz experience
joins us in the studio for a jam session. Are you interested in
finding out more about your family’s history? We’ll talk with the
first president of the African American Genealogical
Society of Milwaukee and we’ll see how a father
and son finally connected across the divide
of two major wars. An exhibit that combines
history, art, and ecology is now on display in Milwaukee. Urban Heroes Urban
wood is the title and our Everett
Marshburn went to visit. – We have 16
wonderful artists who worked on wood that
normally would’ve been thrown in the trash or burned and what they did from
this wood from Wisconsin is turned this wood into
beautiful art pieces. What we have from these 16
artists are pieces of our done. People who are very important
the history of the state of Wisconsin and the history
of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. – [Everett] This was the
scene at the Wisconsin Black Historical
Society in mid-February. The occasion, the
opening reception for Urban Heroes Urban Wood. – Just so you get a
understanding of what the Urban Wood movement is, it’s
basically lumber that was taken from trees that were cut
down right here in Milwaukee because if you don’t notice,
Milwaukee removes about 4,000 trees a year due to
old age and disease or insects or storm damage. What Milwaukee is starting
to do is capitalize on what’s happening
all across this nation, especially on the east
coast where they’re turning this wood into
beautiful forms of art. – [Everett] The project
was a collaboration between the Fresh
Perspective Art collective and Wisconsin Urban Wood. Willie Lamar is one of the
artists in the art collective. – We’re just a group of
individuals who are trying to display urban artwork
within our communities to showcase African American
work within the community so everyone can see
the beauty, the talent, the essence of African Americans
here that are in Milwaukee and surrounding communities. – The Wisconsin Urban
Wood Association is a group of arborists,
a group of sawmills, a group of wood manufacturers,
a growing number of architects, interior
designers who are all recognizing this local resource as being an asset
to the community. – Urban Heroes are
deceased, black, politicians, activists,
entrepreneurs who really had a strong impact on our
community in Milwaukee. I did Ezekiel Gillespie. Ezekiel Gillespie was
one of the, well he was one of the first black
men, I think it was 1866, Ezekiel filed a lawsuit
against the state of Wisconsin for voting rights and
I believe by 1868, he won the case. Black men were able to vote. – [Everett] He also
did Pauli Williams. – Now me and Anna
Pauli Williams, man we go back to the civil
rights movement in Milwaukee with Father Groppi, commandos,
in fact I canvased for her for her campaign. I went door to door for Pauli. She was one of the
first legislators. She was the first black woman
legislators in the state. – [Everett] Alicia Christina
is the only female artist in this exhibit. – I did Mabel Raimey. – [Everett] And who’s that? – She is the first black
female attorney in Wisconsin. – [Everett] Did you know
that before you painted her? – No, I did not. So I did a little research
on her when I picked her. She was the first,
she was also the first person to graduate,
black female to graduate from UW Madison and she also
went on to Marquette University for law. – [Everett] The exhibit is
a virtual history lesson of significant firsts and the
struggle for civil rights. ♪ We shall not ♪ We shall not be moved ♪ We shall not ♪ We shall not be moved ♪ Like a tree ♪ That’s planted by the water ♪ We shall not be moved ♪ We shall not ♪ We shall not be moved ♪ We shall not ♪ We shall not be moved ♪ Like a tree that’s
planted by the water ♪ We shall not be moved
– One, two, three. – [Cameraman]
Perfect, thank you. – [Everett] Even the
sports venue is covered. Al Moreland’s brother,
Thomas, now runs Moreland’s Boxing Gym. – It’s a nice picture. It’s a nice picture. When I came through the
door, the gentleman say, “Moreland.” You know and I looked
up and we shook hands but then, the artist that
drew the picture, he say, he and I just talked
and he told me, he said, “You know, I was
drawing this picture “and I kept coming up with
your face and kept doing this,” and he said, “I’ll
start all over again.” He said he’s trying
to get Al down pat. But that’s my mother’s face. ♪ We shall not be moved ♪ We shall not ♪ We shall not be moved ♪ Like a tree that’s
planted by the water – [Everett] The exhibit
runs through March 17th. Wisconsin Black
Historical Society. It is free and
open to the public. – The African
American Genealogical
Society of Milwaukee dates back to 1992. It’s a non-profit organization
dedicated to the preservation of African American
history and culture. Carol J. Calvin was
it’s first president and joins us today, welcome! – Welcomes, well
thank you very much. – Yes, I’m glad you’re here. 25 years ago, you
started this society. Why did you do that? – We started it because we
really wanted to learn more about our own family
history and we knew that a lot of other
African American people wanted the same information. So we thought by organizing,
that would put us in touch with various resources across the
country that would help us do that. – [Joanne] And did it? – Yes, very much so. As a matter of fact, I have
learned the art and science of genealogy because I am a
member of this organization and I am so proud to
have had that experience. – Have you learned the
art and science of Google? – I do use Google
sometimes, yes. – The internet probably
helps in your searches. – Very, very much. When I started out, we
were looking at micro-films and libraries for
hours on end and then, suddenly, there was ancestry.com
and many other databases and the things that took hours, now you can do in 10 minutes. – Are there any requirements
to be part of the society? – Oh there are
none, just interest. We do pay dues. It’s just $12 a year. So it’s very inexpensive. And we learn from each other. I think that’s the
important thing. We share a lot. – Do you have young
members, old members, middle of the road members? Do you have a variety? – We have a variety of
members, but we would like more young members and we know
young people are interested. I think sometimes they
just wanna make sure that they’re not
the only young ones. (laughing) – So what kind of things
does the society do and where do you do it? – Well, we meet monthly at
the Village Square Library on 35th and Villard and
one of the things we do is have lively discussions
about genealogy. We bring in lecturers but
we also present ourselves, different members will
present a topic every month that helps us do our
genealogy better. We go to workshops and
seminars and we have webinars and then we share that with
each other when we come back from those workshops. – So, I’m sure you have a
workshop coming up in March. When is it? – In March, we have an open
house and we’re so excited about it because
for the first time, we’ll be able to look
up your ancestors in the 1940 census records and so, people should just
bring a name and the birth date, death date, county
that they lived in and then we can look it
up for them and give them a sheet with this
information on it. We’ll also be
displaying our projects and our videos and our DVDs
and Powerpoints and books. When will I be able to do
that, March when is this? – [Carol] March 18th. – What time? – From one to four at the
Village Square Library. – Well you said you’ve
discovered a lot of resources all over the place. What resources are
available here in Milwaukee? – Well, of course,
there is our society. There’s also the Milwaukee
Public Library, which has a lot of microfilms right here. There are the regular
libraries, all the Milwaukee Libraries have ancestry.com
free and I think people should know that because
they don’t have to pay that subscription amount
ya know, that keeps people from doing their genealogy. There are workshops. For example, Claymon
Benson will be having one March 11th on genealogy
at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society. Some of us will attend that one. There’s one every
year in Madison. The Jesus Christ Church
of Latter Day Saints Family History
Centers has a free one every single year in October. – You gather all this
information about your family and your member’s families. What do you do
with it after that? Anybody writes anything? – Yes, as a matter of
fact, we encourage people to write books, to make
posters, to make powerpoints and DVDs so they can share
this with their families. – [Joanne] You’ve
written a book? – I have written a book. – [Joanne] Is it good? – It’s a good book. (laughing) – [Joanne] What did you
discover about your family that you put in your book? – Well, I discovered that
my family came here in 1864 and that I have my great-great
grandparents that I know quite a bit about because
I did the research on them and I’ve written this
book and it’s called The Russell-Matson
Family and Descendants, An African-American
Wisconsin History, and I’m real excited about it
’cause it was just published. It’s well-documented. It is not a storybook,
it is a lineage book. So it has information about
the lineage and about all the descendants all the way
down through my parents, that level. – So if people wanna know
more about the society, there’s a website
that they can go to. We’ll put that up on the
screen so people can read it. They can find out from there
or they can come to the Villard Library on March
18th and check it all out. – Yes they can. – Alright, well thank you
very much Carol Calvin for joining us from the
Genealogical Society. Fascinating. – Thank you. Thank you for having me. – [Joanne] You’re welcome,
thanks for joining us. – [Liddie] Vietnam era
veteran, Marshall Williams, travels Milwaukee via
bus, but nothing compares to a much larger trip
he took to connect the father he never met. – [Marshall] You made it. – [Liddie] His father was
a medic during the war, which was a rarity at that
time for African Americans. Williams, an identical twin
was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania January 3rd, 1945. His father, a World
War II army veteran, was killed February 22nd, 1945. – Wasn’t until my brother
and I were in our, almost in our early
teens that we learned, ya know, that he was
killed in the war. Strangely enough, my
mother never once spoke about our father because I
think it was too painful for her to remember. – [Liddie] Williams has
letters his mother and father exchanged that gives proof
his Dad was not aware his mother may have
been carrying twins. – He talks about one
and even, ya know, suggesting a name
for my brother. I’m twin number two. Michael was twin number one. Just eight minutes older. – [Liddie] Wanting to
know and having a picture of where his father was
buried started this journey. The location, Henri-Chapelle
American Cemetery in Belgium. They sent him a picture of
his father’s grave site, which he posted on Facebook. – Not long after that, some
people in the country of Belgium started ya know,
I guess inquiring or I guess offering
their services to adopt his grave, which
is something that the people over in Europe do for all
the members of the military that died. They honor the military
because they liberated their country from Nazi Germany, World War II. So, they have the utmost
respect for the military and they take care of the
graves and the grounds beautifully. – [Liddie] And then in 2014,
a friend from his church passed away. – And she is also a citizen of the United
Kingdom, Britain, ya know, England. And her wish was to be
ya know, laid to rest in her native England. – [Liddie] The family invited
Marshall to come along. – I told one daughter,
I said, “I can’t afford “to go over there.” And the daughter
graciously paid my way to go to England to help them
to lay their mother to rest in her native England. And that’s when I thought of, if I’m gonna be over there,
why not take a side trip to Belgium and see my father’s
grave for the first time, with which I did. – What were your thoughts
once you were there? – First it was
crying, it was tears. Ya know, just to be there. And to approach the grave
site for the first time, ya know, since he
passed away, 70 years. All I could do was
get on my knees and put my hand on the marble
cross that marks the grave and say, “Hi Dad.” Actually, I was waiting
for a reply (laughs). And I knew that it
wouldn’t be something that would be audible,
ya know, I thought it would be something
in here but it was. I just know he’s there. Even when we were growing up,
when we were going through stuff, me personally, when
I was going through stuff, I just sensed that he was there, ya know, guiding us through. – [Liddie] How did the visit
to your father’s grave site change you? – I’m a more spiritual person. I’m maybe more of him than I was before and I think just
to go over there, just kinda confirmed
it or sealed it. Ya know, the bond or so
to speak that we have because the only way I knew
of him was through letters that he wrote to his
mother and to my mother. But ya know, and to hear
the stories that they told about how he was and ya
know, what he was doing and to go over there and to just walk on that ground
where all those soldiers are and to touch that marble
cross just made me feel kinda complete, whole. (somber music) (upbeat jazzy music) – Hey Sam, it was great
hearing the band perform. You guys were fantastic. Tell me how did you
put the band together? – Well, most of us have
known each other for years. The piano player, we’ve been
playing for years together. The congo player, Dumas
Afere, we’ve been knowing each other since the 70’s and
played in Colthi together, worked with Buddy
Montgomery, et cetera. Steve Pepplin, we’ve been
knowing for about four or five years playing together,
some of his projects. Ethan, we’ve been
knowing for a long time. So, we just kind of
came together last three or four years. There’s some projects that
I had up and these were some great musicians. I thought that might
sound good together. – Who makes up the band? – Ken Costas on piano, Dumas
Afere is on congo/percussion, Ethan Benders double
bay, so he plays electric bass on occasion,
Steve Pepplin is on guitar. We used to have a saxophone
player that was with us for a while but he
moved back to St. Louis, Winfeld Gaylor, so we miss him. – So, what type of
jazz do you play? There’s different forms of jazz. What kind do you play? – Well, we played some
of the traditional. We go back some of the
miles, we do original stuff. We do a twist on some
of the newer things. We’ll combine funk along
with straight ahead. We do Latin, we
like a lot of Latin. So, we just try to make music
that people will feel good listening to. – Now, when I listen to
jazz, there’s been this smooth jazz movement, yeah. So, how do you get people
to move from smooth jazz into the more traditional jazz. What do you do, how
do you get that ear? – I think they have to
be exposed to it more. It used to be where we
had the jazz stations in Milwaukee that people
would listen to a lot of jazz in all varieties but mainstream. I think we need another
resurgent of jazz that’s being played in all
of the clubs and venues around this city and people
not trying to just play one form of jazz or the
contemporary, the smooth jazz, but getting people to listen
to the traditional things as well as playing things
that are popular too. – Do you see a jazz
resurgence coming about? – I see a few younger
musicians playing more but not playing as much
of the traditional jazz that we come from in that
myself, Duma and some of the other musicians,
Steve, that we played for many, many years. I see more of the hip
hop element put to it. We like to, I have a coffee
house that I try to invite young musicians to
come in to listen to veteran musicians,
listen to them play the traditional
stuff as well as play what’s contemporary as well. – How is that going? – I think it’s going well. There’s some fine young
musicians that come and set in on occasion. – Now I understand, I
was talking to your wife and she says, “It’s a family
that comes in and plays “with you too.” – Yeah, we used to
have a young group, The Matthews, young drummer
that I used to teach, he comes in every now and
then but we don’t have, it’s not the same
as it used to be. Actually, they used
to come and play at some of the outdoor
concerts we used to do and they would come and play, in between the
sets and so forth. – So, if I wanna
come here you play, when do I come? – Every second Friday for sure at 306 East Wisconsin,
CITY.NET Jazz Cafe. We’re there at six PM to eight. – [James] Thank you. – [Sam] Thank you,
appreciate you. – And that’s our
show for this week. Thanks for watching. For Black Nouveau,
I’m Joanne Williams reminding you to do something
to celebrate your history every week. (upbeat hip hop music)

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