Category Archives: Press

WHAT’S HOT in Milwaukee? See what you missed.

Don’t worry!  Check out the links below.

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Holiday 2016 – Holiday Gifts for All!

October 2016 – KNOW YOUR HISTORY

September 2016 – IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ARTS

August 2016 – GET YOUR LOOK RIGHT (alternations)


June 2016 – KEEP IT LEGAL

March 2016 – TAX SEASON


February 2016 – COMING SOON

January 2016 –  NEW YEAR, NEW LOCATION

Happy New Year – HAPPY NEW YEAR!


November 2015 –  COLLABORATION

October 2015 – WE ARE!

September 2015 – KIDS ACTIVITIES

August 2015 – RELAXATION

July 2015 – BAR-B-QUE



African American Actors Headline at the Milwaukee Rep This Fall


Left – Nathaniel Stampley

Middle – Alexis J. Roston as Billie Holiday. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Right – David St. Louis as Jay “The Sport” Jackson in The Royale. Photo by Craig Schwartz.


This fall, African-American performers will play the leading roles in all three of Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s season opening productions. Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill stars Alexis J. Roston as legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday, in Man of La Mancha Broadway star and Milwaukee native Nathaniel Stampley takes on the iconic role of Don Quixote and The Royale stars David St. Louis as a boxer trying to break the color barrier in the early 1900s.


The Rep’s season began with Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, an up close and personal tribute to a woman who shaped so much more than jazz and blues. Set in 1959, Billie Holiday puts on a show in a small bar in Philadelphia. Unbeknownst to the audience, they witness one of the last performances of her extraordinary life. More than a dozen musical numbers are interlaced with salty, often humorous, reminiscences to project a riveting portrait of the lady and her music. Full of show stopping numbers like “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” and “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” Lady Day shares her loves and losses in this award-winning musical fresh from its Broadway revival.


Lady Day opened in the Stackner Cabaret on September 9 and the reviews for the production and Alexis J. Roston’s performance as Billie Holiday have been terrific! “[Holiday’s] music and spirit live on through the multi-faceted talents of Alexis J. Roston in this intimate portrayal.” –Shepherd Express. “Roston holds the audience in the palm of her hand with a scintillating performance that captures the soul of a singer who brought heartfelt experiences to her lyrics like no other artist of her generation.” –ShowBiz Chicago. Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill performances continue through October 30, 2016.


For several years Milwaukee Rep has kicked-off the season by bringing hit Broadway musicals to the Quadracci Powerhouse stage. Recently Milwaukee audiences have seen sell-out productions of Ragtime, The Color Purple and Dreamgirls. This fall the iconic musical Man of La Mancha will continue The Rep’s musical tradition with a timeless tale of love and adventure.


Winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score, it’s the classic story of Don Quixote retold in one of the most beloved musicals of all time, Man of La Mancha. Imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition, Miguel de Cervantes enlists his fellow inmates to help his defense by telling a tale of a mad knight who believes the wrongs of the world can be corrected as he jousts at windmills with his trusty sidekick Sancho and his beloved Dulcinea.


Milwaukee native Nathaniel Stampley returns to Milwaukee Rep in the lead role of Don Quixote after performing in Dreamgirls and The Color Purple. Also returning to The Rep is Gavin Gregory, best-known for his performance as Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime. Man of La Mancha runs September 20 – October 30, 2016


The third production opening at The Rep this fall is a brilliant new play The Royale, written by Marco Ramirez, who is known for his work writing for hit TV series “Orange Is the New Black,” “Daredevil,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “DaVinci’s Demon’s.”


In The Royale charismatic African-American boxer Jay “The Sport” Jackson has a burning desire to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Jackson’s fight begins long before the match, though; it takes careful negotiations to convince the white reigning titleholder to even recognize him as a worthy opponent and enter the ring. Told in six rounds and set in a boxing ring, this intimate story of internal struggle proves that sometimes the most powerful fights are the ones we battle in our own minds.
The Royale is loosely inspired by the story of boxer Jack Johnson who — at the height of the Jim Crow era — became the most famous and the most notorious black man on earth. In 1908, Johnson broke the color barrier in professional sports and became the World Heavyweight Champion. Johnson is best-known for winning the “Fight of the Century” in 1910 beating former heavyweight champ Jim Jeffries who was dubbed the “Great White Hope.” The Royale performs September 30 – November 6.


For more information about Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Man of La Mancha, The Royale and the rest of Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s 2016/17 Season, visit




What can white Milwaukeeans do to help African Americans?

We are so honored to be featured in this article by Garrett Bucks!  This was originally featured on the Urban Milwaukee website.   Here is a excerpt.

“As white Milwaukeeans, we have to actively make the choice to support communities of color (especially black Milwaukee) in their work to build power and capacity.

1. Spend your money at businesses owned by people of color.

Did you know that there is a beautiful, easy-to-navigate directory of black-run businesses in the city? It’s true! There’s also a directory of Hmong-run businesses across the whole state. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s directory of businesses is being updated but it isn’t hard to ask a business that serves the Latino community if they are Latino-run or not. If we are going to create a condition where more small businesses are run by people of color, where every neighborhood in the city has a vibrant commercial district and wealth flows to-and-from everyone, not just to white folks, we have to first support what we’ve got right now.”

Find the complete article here! – CLICK FOR FULL ARTICLE

Black Enterprise Feature of Milwaukee Black Business

As featured in Black Enterprise Online.  Click to original article CLICK HERE

Father-Daughter Businesses: 5 Black Business Duos You Need to Know
Giving a nontraditional spin to family business

By Safon Floyd

When you think of dads passing down their businesses, most would immediately assume that the business is being passed down to a son.

It is becoming more and more prevalent for fathers to select their daughters as heir apparent to their thrones recognizing that capability, ability, and knack for success isn’t gender specific. salutes these fathers who have recognized that daughters are bosses too. Check out these black business duos below.

Father: Curtiss Harris
Daughter: Lynn Harris Farmer
Business: Milwaukee Black Business L.L.C. – Businessman Curtiss Harris teamed up with his daughter, business consultant and former Fortune 500 marketing executive, Lynn Harris Farmer, to launch Milwaukee Black Business, a digital directory to link consumers to black-owned businesses in the Milwaukee area.


Father: Garth C. Reeves
Daughter: Rachel J. Reeves
Business: The Miami Times – Rachel J. Reeves is the current publisher of The Miami Times, one of the oldest black newspapers in the U.S. (founded 1923). The publication was passed down to Reeves from her father, Garth C. Reeves who took the reins from his father, Harry Ethelbert Sigismund Reeves. Rachel Reeves became publisher and CEO of The Miami Times in 1994 following the untimely death of her brother, Garth C. Reeves Jr.


Father: John H. Johnson
Daughter: Linda Johnson Rice
Business: Johnson Publishing Co. – Linda Johnson Rice is the chairman of Johnson Publishing Co., publisher of EBONY and JET magazines and the parent company to Fashion Fair Cosmetics. The company was founded in 1942 by her father, John H. Johnson, who grew the company into becoming the largest African American-owned media company in the U.S. Daughter, Linda Rice became president of the company at age 29.


Father: William DeBerry McKissack
Daughter: Cheryl McKissack Daniel
Business: McKissack & McKissack – Civil engineer Cheryl McKissack Daniel is the president and CEO of McKissack & McKissack, the oldest minority- and woman-owned design and construction firm in the nation. McKissack Daniel inherited the firm from her father, William DeBerry McKissack, who inherited from his father Moses McKissack, who founded the family business in 1905. As president and CEO, McKissack Daniel serves as Project Executive on all of her firm’s high profile projects.


Father: Ephraim Benton
Daughter: Amber Benton
Business: Daddy Daughter Publishing – Amber Benton is the now 12-year-old co-founder and partner of Daddy Daughter Publishing along with her father Ephraim Benton. The two started the publishing company when Amber was 7 years old with stories to share. The duo began releasing books in June 2011.
There are more families changing the face of black business, we’re sure. Please do share in the comments below and let’s recognize those who recognize that a woman at the head of the boardroom table is exactly where she should be.


Want to Reduce Crime in Milwaukee? Support a Black Business.

Daphne Jones understands the vitally important role of the black entrepreneur in Milwaukee. As President and CEO of Glorious Malone’s Fine Sausage, Jones is dedicated to helping disadvantaged youth envision dreams for themselves and helping them reach for those dreams.

When Jones comes into contact with young people she frequently asks, “What do you want and how do you dream?” She feels it’s necessary to ask these questions to help youth discover the “freedom and excitement of dreaming.” Jones is just one example of how black business owners positively impact the economic fabric of our community.

A new study by the Urban Affairs Review, a leading scholarly journal on urban issues, reinforces that black-owned businesses are the quiet interrupters in the poverty-and-crime cycle. The study strongly supports black-owned businesses as the key to decreasing youth violence.


The research shows an inverse relationship: when the number of black-owned business goes up, black youth crime goes down. The study notes that simply increasing black employment within a disadvantaged area was not enough to reduce crime rates. Research findings specifically highlighted African-American entrepreneurship as the key variable that can reduce crime in a community.

The report attributes three major contributions of African-American entrepreneurs to the decrease in urban youth violence:

  1. Black business owners serve as role models:
  • Where there was a concentrated presence of African-Americans operating their own businesses, there was a general perception shift about the role of African Americans in the community.
  • Youth attention was diverted away from factors of disadvantage and refocused on progress, empowerment and inspiration.

Such role models have been fondly referred to as “old heads” in the neighborhood, providing a safe haven and sounding board for community youth (Parker, p. 7).

  1. Black business owners reinforce the value in social structures:
  • Black entrepreneurs act as “social buffers” reshaping how youth view the black community’s role in institutions, like business, education and government.
  • When business owners reshape how youth view the institutions and social structures around them, they reshape how youth view their own role and opportunity in society.

“[Black business owners] reinforce values and expectations about social institutions, which guide young away from violence” (Parker, p. 7).

  1. Black business owners provide economic opportunity:
  • African-American entrepreneurs paint a new picture of hope by bringing an “inflow of resources into the community, reducing the level of economic disadvantage linked to urban violence” (Parker, p. 7).
  • A national study of 28 metropolitan areas (Bates, 1994), found that over 96% of Black business owners heavily employed minorities in the community of business.

“Black entrepreneurship brings job networks and economic empowerment…reducing the social isolation from mainstream institutions.” (Parker, p. 8).

Curtiss Harris, President and co-founder of Milwaukee Black Business, couldn’t agree more with the report’s finding.

“If (Milwaukee residents) don’t control the elements of economic growth and job creation, we don’t control our city’s destiny,” said Harris who has served the Black business community in Milwaukee for more than 40 years. “Ensuring that money is flowing into local black businesses is the one greatest economic boosts the City of Milwaukee can receive.”

Milwaukee Black Business ( exists to strengthen African American entrepreneurs in our own hometown: providing a platform and network for growing black businesses in a modern and professional way.

What can you do to help Milwaukee prosper? Go to to find out more about local entrepreneurs and frequent a local business. From construction to insurance professionals to yoga instructors, go local and help our city thrive!

 For more information on Glorious Malone’s Fine Sausage

* Read their story

* Watch their video


Parker, F. Karen. 2015. “The African American Entrepreneur-Crime Drop Relationship: Growing African American Business Ownership and Declining Youth Violence” Urban Affairs Review. Retrieved from

Bates, Timothy M. 1994. “Utilization of Minority Employees in Small Business: A Comparison of Nonminority and Black Owned Urban Enterprise.” The Review of Black Political Economy 23:113–21.

Key Words: Youth, Crime, Urban Affairs Review, Entrepreneur, African American, Black Owned Business, Milwaukee, Milwaukee Black Owned Business


Milwaukee’s Missing Vital Asset – African American Businesses

The following is an excerpt of a narrative written by Milwaukee Black Business to leaders in the community.


The Problem

Milwaukee has one of the lowest rates of African American entrepreneurship.

State of Milwaukee

In the The Vital Signs: Benchmarking Metro Milwaukee report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation compared greater Milwaukee’s four-county area to 15 other metro areas on quality of life indicators and supplemental data. The findings put Milwaukee in the middle or toward the bottom of the economic competitiveness indicators. What’s most jarring is that racial disparities in quality of life can be seen throughout the report—in household income, poverty rates, and infant mortality. Milwaukee also has the worst residential segregation out of all of the cities compared. There is a clear and wide divide between the White and non-White populations in metro Milwaukee.

A more racially equitable, inclusive and self-sufficient community that encounters fewer hardships, greater choices, and a better quality of life can help to improve the region’s economic competitiveness. And in order for the community to get there, Milwaukee’s residents need access to opportunities, resources and community assets.


Creating Positive Social Change

Black-owned Businesses are Community Assets

It is estimated that 7,000 of Milwaukee businesses are owned by African Americans within the city alone (US Census-QuickFacts, 2013 estimate). Black-owned businesses can create positive social change in a community. A new study by the Urban Affairs Review, highlights that black-owned businesses are the quiet interrupters in the poverty-and-crime cycle (, 2015). The study strongly supports black-owned businesses as a key asset to decreasing youth violence. And the report attributes three major contributions of African-American entrepreneurs to the decrease in urban youth violence because the business owners:

  1. Serve as role models,
  2. Reinforce the value in social structures, and
  3. Provide economic opportunity and job growth.


Spending Power of African Americans in Milwaukee

Despite the high poverty level, African American residents of Milwaukee County had annual income totaling over $3.5 billion in 2011, according to the Census Bureau American Community Survey five-year estimates. More than 70 percent of this income ($2.56 billion out of the $3.55 billion total) was concentrated in the nine zip codes where African Americans make up a majority of the population.

However, the money of African Americans in Milwaukee, which is a collective asset of the community, is leaving the African American community. It’s happening in two ways:

  1. Residents who shop outside of the neighborhood exceed the spending of non-residents coming into the neighborhood to shop, and
  2. The retail businesses in Milwaukee are largely owned by outsiders and the business profits leave the neighborhood.

The community is losing retail revenue that could be recycled back into the African American community. African American income has the potential to have tremendous economic development impact if tapped for locally-owned businesses (Resource Data for the ONE MKE Summit, Univ. of Wisc.-Mil., 2013). Recycling money in the community means dollars can be used toward building equitable, inclusive and self-sufficient communities for people of color.

What has to happen is grounded in research and clear: There is a need for locally-developed, accurate descriptions of the assets of the African American community. (Resource Data for the ONE MKE Summit, Univ. of Wisc.-Mil., 2013).”

Milwaukee Black Business LLC 

Launched in April 2015, Milwaukee Black Business LLC was created to connect local businesses to searching consumers and neighboring business owners using technology.  We capture the attention and hearts of the community to support businesses in their own neighborhoods using web based tools and social media.

Curtiss Harris, a longtime Milwaukee minority and small business advocate, and Lynn Harris Farmer, a seasoned business and marketing leader, make up the a father-daughter duo leading the company. Their goal—utilize modern marketing tools to showcase all the business offerings in the Milwaukee area. By leveraging their custom designed website, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Google Plus, YouTube) and email, they are raising the awareness of local  businesses and residents.

At its core, Milwaukee Black Business is connecting the community to its assets and changing the narrative of African American business in Milwaukee. Instead of bemoaning the lack of African American businesses, Milwaukee Black Business seeks to celebrate those that exist and inspire new businesses to begin.


#ReasonsToLoveMKE – #30

Milwaukee Black Business is honored to be featured in the October issue of Milwaukee Magazine as one of the Reasons to Love Milwaukee!!

Link to the article here. MKE Black Business

In April 2015, father-daughter duo Curtiss E. Harris and Lynn Harris Farmer launched their website Milwaukee Black Business in an effort to connect the city to the area’s 7,000-plus African-American-owned businesses, churches and organizations . Lynn’s marketing and social media experience, and Curtiss’ historical knowledge and contacts have made them an intergenerational dream team. In addition to their directory, Milwaukee Black Business profiles African-American-owned businesses and offers advice to small-business owners. “There’s something about having deep roots in one community to have deep change,” Lynn says. (AG)


Curtiss Harris – The Evolution of Old School

By Tannette Johnson-Elie

For four decades, Curtiss (Curt) Harris has steadfastly fought for equal access for minority-owned businesses in the Milwaukee area. Today, he hopes technology will enable him to deliver an even bigger punch.

Harris has joined forces with his daughter, Lynn Harris Farmer, a former Fortune 50 executive, to launch a new digital directory to link consumers to black-owned businesses in the Milwaukee area. Dubbed,, the site made its debut April 2015. The site now is being used by 1,000 local businesses and is followed by more than 3,000 people on social media.

“My daughter felt we had to become more current and put out something that’s web-based,” Harris said. “We decided to create a tool to help African American-owned businesses reach their consumers.”

Harris, 76, is president of Milwaukee Black Business, the parent company to, while Harris Farmer is the start-up company’s CEO and chief marketing officer (CMO). Harris brings tried-and-true business know-how, while Harris Farmer represents a more contemporary, technology-based approach to business.

“The key is the partnership Curt and Lynn have. It’s a combination of old school and new age,” says Eric Von, talk show host for 860 WNOV-AM. “She couldn’t be a success in this kind of venture without the institutional knowledge that Curt brings, nor could he be successful without the modern-day technology that she brings.”

Harris was one of the first people Von met when he moved to Milwaukee from Washington, D.C. in 1991. He says Harris was just as adamant then about opportunities opening up for black business owners as he is today. Harris is a regular fill-in host on Von’s morning talk show.

“He’s a great reservoir of historical data. We think alike on a lot of the issues,” said Von, who also is managing partner for Von Communications, a public relations and communications firm.

Harris made his mark in Milwaukee as a business consultant and coordinator of minority participation on major Wisconsin projects such as Miller Park and Camp Randall in Madison. Most recently, he was the interim executive director of the African-American Chamber of Commerce, where he pushed for a more collaborative approach to serving the needs of black-owned businesses.

Harris views as a continuation of his efforts to promote economic empowerment within Milwaukee’s black community and hopes he can leverage his experience, alongside technology, to promote black-owned businesses.

“I find myself asking the question, how do I leverage my history and make it current for what we’re trying to do for Milwaukee’s black businesses?” Harris said. “I’m trying to leverage who I know, what I know and the timing of what has happened to make Milwaukee’s black businesses successful.”

A graduate of North Division High School, Harris spent 40 years fighting to remove barriers to public and private-sector contracts for minority-owned businesses. His foray into economic development began soon after he was hired as a research director for the Boston Store in the 1966. Through his work, Harris became interested in helping the city’s minority-owned businesses and received the support of the Boston Store.

“Peter Scotese, who was chairman of the Boston Store in Milwaukee at the time, allowed me to do things with small business during my work hours as long as I got my work done for the store,” said Harris, who received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “I felt the black community needed to grow through the economic development process versus the social services process. I began advocating for minority-owned businesses.”

Long before computers were available, leaders of Harris’ generation took to the streets in protests of inequality; they pushed corporations to hire African Americans; and worked with political forces to help minority contractors get hired on public projects. They didn’t have the luxury of firing off an email or taking to social media, they picked up the phone, wrote letters and spent countless hours meeting with community activists and civic and political leaders to push for change. Their efforts were effective for the time.

But it’s a new day. Technology now is changing the game. Today’s more contemporary leaders are using technology to organize and draw attention to key issues affecting their communities.

Now, those like Harris, who long have been in the trenches, can amplify their voices thanks to technology and affect change in a way they never could before. For example, Harris hopes to provide information about contracting opportunities with local and state government agencies on the website that black-owned businesses can access.

Nevertheless, Harris initially was resistant to technology and never envisioned himself heading up a web-based venture.

“My three daughters bought my laptop, desktop, iPhone and iPad,” he said. “They forced my wife, Helen and I into technology. I’m obviously glad they did.”

Harris hopes more black-owned businesses in Milwaukee will follow his example and get online. After all, Harris realizes that he couldn’t continue to be the advocate he was back in the day if he weren’t willing to wage the battle on new turf – cyberspace. Many in Milwaukee like Von, of 860 WNOV, are glad he’s staying the course.

“He’s (Harris) had to adapt to the times,” said Von. “The website is an example of his growth and adaptation to this new age of technology that one must embrace today in order to advance black-owned businesses.”


Tannette Johnson-Elie is a contributing writer for Milwaukee Black Business. She is a former reporter/columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a former contributing writer for the Milwaukee Business Journal. In addition to writing, Tannette is an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and an instructor for Marquette University’s summer Urban Journalism Workshop, a program that trains young minority students, primarily from Milwaukee, in multimedia news gathering.   Find out more about Tanette at


Images provided by Dennis McMurray of DLittleton Photography.

Feature in Milwaukee Business Journal

Today is a great day!  Milwaukee Black Business is featured in the Milwaukee Business Journal today!

Check it out!

Milwaukee can be a difficult market for minority entrepreneurs. In a city where African-Americans make up nearly half of the population, 22 percent own or operate businesses, according to recent U.S. Census data.
Armed with an idea, some social media smarts and a Rolodex of business contacts, one father-daughter team plans to bring attention to these businesses through their new company, Milwaukee Black Business.
Milwaukee Black Business is an online directory dedicated to raising awareness for African-American businesses in metro Milwaukee. The site provides consumers with a variety of information including business profiles, maps and photos. Within two months after its launch, it is being used by nearly 1,000 local businesses and has a following of more than 2,500 people on social media.

Local businessman Curtiss Harris and his daughter, Lynn Harris Farmer, a former Fortune 500 marketing executive, represent a partnership that pairs new technology with time-tested business acumen. Together, their varied skills form a business that generates success for Milwaukee’s entrepreneurs and targets the more than 115,000 African-American consumers in the city.

While the startup’s success is noteworthy, the concept of promoting minority-owned businesses isn’t new to Milwaukee. For years, local entrepreneurs have utilized African-American radio stations, newspapers, specialty phone books and other forms of traditional publicity to spread word about their businesses. For small businesses that don’t have surplus cash to spend on radio and newspaper advertisements, it can be difficult to the gain attention of local consumers.
Milwaukee Black Business aims to lower or eliminate these costs by giving businesses the option to list basic information on the site for free or pay $240 a year for a premium account that allows them to post photos, promote events and be featured on Milwaukee Black Business’ social media pages.

According to Harris Farmer, many were eager to adopt a social media-based business model that supported local African-American-owned businesses, which aren’t always easy to locate.
“The perception is that there just aren’t that many,” she said. “Should there be more? Absolutely. The least we can do is highlight the ones that are there.”

Neither of the Harrises are strangers to the struggle of African-American business owners in Milwaukee. Curtiss Harris, president of Milwaukee Black Business, has been an active member of the city’s business community for more than 40 years working as a consultant and coordinating minority participation on major projects like Miller Park in Milwaukee and Camp Randall in Madison.

“Milwaukee is a tough city to do business in,” Harris said. “When I first started out there was this notion that if you could sell something here, you could sell it anywhere.”

Harris added that through Milwaukee Black Business, many local startups are now starting to experience more success and gain a following in the community. Today, the Harrises are still busy scrolling through Rolodexes, supervising social media accounts and creating new business relationships across the city.

“I was trying to slide off into oblivion,” Harris joked. “But my daughter got me to stick with it. I still think we need to be clearing up the disparity and creating business development and growth.”
Madeline Kennedy is an editorial intern for the Milwaukee Business Journal.