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Bronzeville Economic Opportunity

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Yesterday was the last day of Black History Month. I got a call from the Historic Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. BID, to participate in a panel discussion being hosted by the Milwaukee Bucks employee resource group Black Leaders & Advocates Creating Change (BLACC). I was contacted by Alysha Miller to provide some history, context and aspirations for Bronzeville Milwaukee.

First and foremost I was really glad to see a room full of diverse people interested in getting active in the Bronzeville Arts & Cultural District in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Bucks have proven to be a huge contributor to the economic opportunity for diverse workers and earners. They had a few questions that were really important for the Bucks to be addressing since they sit at the southern boarder of Brozeville:

What does the Bronzeville Advisory Committee do?

The Bronzeville Advisory Committee was established in 2010 and meets bi-monthly. It is a body established by the city of Milwaukee with appointments made by both Alderwoman Coggs who represents the district and Mayor Cavalier Johnson. Committee members represent businesses, creatives, and residents surrounding Bronzeville who are deeply committed to the advancement of a thriving Bronzeville. We review development projects prior to them going to zoning committee for approval. We've developed additional measurements to the rubric that Department of City Development uses to advance culturally sensitive projects that align with the overall plans for Bronzeville. These meetings are public and everyone can attend.

Why is it important to preserve Bronzeville?

Bronzeville was established as a concept by Carter G. Woodson. He is also the founder of Black History Month. His work to establish these important cultural milestones was done at the University of Chicago. Chicago was established by a French Black Man, so it is the catalyst for studying the impact of Black cooperative economics. The way to define and identify a Bronzeville area is a region in a metropolis where Black people live, work, plan and earn. Similar to the concepts like "Chinatown" and "Little Tokyo", Bronzeville is the concentration of cultural community that circulates wealth and economic opportunity. Milwaukee is not the only and definitely not the first Bronzeville in the United States.

Milwaukee's Bronzeville was originally centered around Walnut Street. The original corridor was populated with many Black owned businesses and was a thriving hub at it's height. Growing up in Milwaukee I listened to my elders tell the stories of the art, culture and commerce flowing amongst Black people. Lately we hear the opposite in the media. The work we do in Bronzeville is to bring the thriving economy back for Black people.

What does the future of Bronzeville look like?

People shopping in the district, people connecting and meeting in the district, relationships growing and building trust in the district, and people being able to afford to remain residents in the district as the value of the property and businesses increases. We hope to see everyone celebrate the culture of Bronzeville and recognizes the value of Milwaukee being a Global Majority City.

It is with great gratitude that I serve as the chair of the Bronzeville Advisory Committee. As we continue to become a national model for building a thriving Dr. Martin Luther King Drive for other cities to replicate I look forward to the many ways that our key partners like the Bucks will lead by example by educating their staff about the value of their presence to Bronzeville and the opportunity they have to make long lasting impact with their work.

Does your company employee resource group need a presentation on the economic impact of investing in Bronzeville? Please don't hesitate to reach out and book a cultural agility session with Pryme Solutions today!


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