Milwaukee celebrates African American leadership in environmental initiatives
Celebration was in the air Monday evening as the latest batch of environmental heroes were honored at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society Museum.
Brightly-costumed musicians wove their way through the crowded space.
Triangles gave way to drumming and then dance. And that was just the beginning.
Respected neighborhood organizer Yvonne McCaskill is one of the organizers of this, the 4th annual African American Environmental Pioneer Awards. McCaskill was bursting with pride.
“We are correcting that myth that African Americans do not participate in environmental issues or careers. By working together to create a collective environmental impact, we can have results that we want in our community,” McCaskill says.
Artist and youth mentor Ammar Nsoroma, one of six environmental pioneers honored Monday evening, is quietly doing his part.
Nsoroma spearheaded a biking collective called Red, Bike & Green Milwaukee that’s pedaling down health disparities chronically experienced by Black communities and benefitting the environment at the same time.
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As he accepted his award, Nsoroma shared, "Besides being an artist, when I would meet and greet my friends in the community, they would always ask what am I was up to. And I would always have a lot of 'I'm gonna.' Red Bike & Green was one of first 'I'm gonnas' that I turned into an 'I did.'"
The celebration also highlighted six rising environmental stars, including community organizer Lauryn Cross.
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The 2018 Rufus King High School grad threw her energy into the Youth Climate Action Team and played a key role in organizing a student strike for climate. Cross used her time at the microphone to call others to action.
"I'd like to invite you all to join an organization to take part in building struggle in your communities because that's what we need ultimately to beat the climate crisis," Cross says.
She invited the audience to join her in a chant, “So when I say ‘we fight’, can you say ‘we win’,” Cross says.
Monday evening, inside the Black historical space, all things felt possible.