What must we do? What should we learn from Sherman Park?
It’s taken me several days to put pen to paper to express what I feel after the deeply disturbing events for the people in Sherman Park last weekend, and what it says for our City. I am rarely at a loss for words, but I have been about this, despite prayers for guidance in terms of the words to express what I believe to be true.
When I woke up and heard the news, my first act was to text friends with the question, “what must we do?”
My dear friend Vincent Lyles, President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Milwaukee, called me right away to tell me in greater detail about the devastation that occurred in the same neighborhood I raised my son in when I lived on Grant Blvd for 22 years. By the way, many of us in Milwaukee lived in Sherman Park at one point, and considered it to be a great neighborhood, terrific for raising kids and building healthy friendships. Many of the residents are still fiercely committed to being good neighbors and providing healthy life conditions for their children. It also is one of the most authentically diverse neighborhoods with a rich history of valuing diversity in all dimensions.
Vincent also gave me a glimmer of hope when he said that the Mary Ryan B&G Club has always been a safe haven for the children, a place where despite all evidence of deterioration, growing racial divides, lack of trust and fear in Sherman Park, its residents have essentially protected this Club as a valued asset and partner. The fact that the Club is prohibited from being open after 6pm is a shame and very short-sighted in my opinion. We have to create more, not less, safe spaces for the children and young people in the neighborhood!
I am also inspired by the constant theme within so many philanthropic, business, civic and community organizations … a commitment to running towards solutions rather than away from those who need us most. Though all of us agree that the challenges are daunting, now is the time to rise to the occasion and do more to meet the needs of residents in this part of our City. We must do this collaboratively and with a sense of urgency.
One last thought. Let’s not forget that much has been done in just a short few days, especially by the neighbors who live in Sherman Park and others who have been moved to help from other parts of the City. We should be inspired by their grit and determination and step forward to help in all ways we can.
Our schools need support to improve educational outcomes for our kids here and throughout the City. Milwaukee Succeeds remains committed to being part of the solutions. I feel an even greater sense of urgency for us to collectively and positively impact the trajectory for our children and young people through the work we are doing. Turning a bad situation into one that motivates us to truly deliver on promises of helping communities to be safe, eliminating racism, ensuring equity for all and doing it together is one thing we must do.
See you soon,
Danae Davis | Executive Director
101 W. Pleasant St., Suite 210, Milwaukee, WI 53212