July 5, 2004

Dear Ashanti,

Happy 4th! I continue to enjoy your great work on behalf of the people. Please, please someday, when you have some spare time, read this note and return your critical response.

Clear sailing,

Godsil

When I was a freshman at Rockhurst College, a small, Jesuit, all boys school in Kansas City, Mo., not far from 12th St. & Vine, I had an essay published in a student literary magazine shortly after I quit college basketball. My impression of my life at that moment in 1964, shortly after JFK was gunned down, had me squat in a clammy closet, stacking egg shells, egg shells on top of egg shells, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, humming verses of the Ave Maria, so the little bald headed Jesuit prowling the halls in a black robe and tennis shoes knew I was egg shelling, my fate for the next four years, an intiation rite, in those days, for passage into the ranks of the Catholic professionals of the Great Midwest.

Turned out that I quit stacking egg shells and humming verses of the Ave Maria. And most Catholic professionals of the Great Midwest would not consider me part of the group.

But I did help discover and create a family myth that well might set my people free. I am looking to team up with an artist to present some variation of this myth, and perhaps those of other myth bearers, for the wider world.

What say?

Clear sailing,

Godsil

Here’s one partial version of a “family myth” my children have been offered since they were infants. If you enjoy it, I’ll send more in my next note. Some of it is “real.” Some of it is “myth.” The difference between “reality” and “myth” is not always clear and sometimes does not really matter.

Sometimes, nothing can be so real and practical as a good founding “myth!”

Indiginous, Ambiguous, and Universal

The Godsil’s have been taught that the blood of all people flows through our veins. As different family members have studied the history of God’s peoples on the planet earth, they have woven together this story to explain how it could be that a person like myself could be a distant cousin to everyone.

Our Beginnings in Mother Africa

They say that our family’s story can be traced no further back than 3 or 4 thousand years ago, in the gold mines of Mali, not far from where emerged the glorious city of Timbuktu. I am told that the gold that was mined in Mali, near the Niger River, not far from Timbuktu, played a major role in the emergence of the civilization of the near East and the Mediterranean. It seems that our family got in trouble for speaking too loudly to power, and we sought refuge in Somalia, on the eastern coast of Africa, not far from the origin of the Nile River. In Somalia we became sailors, artisans, and merchants, working on ships and with maritime commerce between Asia and Africa, including India and China. Memories suggest that we never did well with received wisdom or orthodoxies of any kind. We offended many groups by our openness to engage in dialogue, business, and even marriage with “out groups” not very appreciated by whatever “in group” we were identified with at the time. So we drank from the wine of such world religions as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and more. We also intermarried with Asians and considered ourselves Asian Africans.

Moving on to Europe

Our diaspora from Mother Africa began about a millennium ago, around the time when Mohammed’s armies conquered much of the world between Gibraltar and India. They say we tended to be cooks and chefs for the armies and ruling groups of Islam, settling finally, after centuries of westward movement across North Africa, in a great city named Cordoba. There we intermarried not just with the Spanish, but also with some German and Italian families that worked as blacksmiths and jewelers. Some say that one of our ancestors was a Jew, who was a right hand man of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order of priests. By 1588 one of our ancestors was an archer, who went with the Spanish Aramada to attack England. During a great storm many of the ships crashed on the southern coast of Ireland. One of them, the Santa Maria de la Rosa, was destroyed on the rocks of the Blasket Islands, near County Cork Ireland. Our ancestor survived, became a soldier for an Irish lord, who himself paid a certain amount of homage to the hated English, and was eventually given some land to farm and raise a family.
This family eventually produced my great-great grandfather, Richard Godsil, a schoolmaster in Dublin, at the Prescott Catholic Elementary School. Richard Godsil was to be bludgeoned to death by an Orangeman, for his work on behalf of the nascent Irish independence movement.

To America!

Richard’s children became orphaned after his wife was institutionalized and their patrimony largely lost in a brickyard business run by an Uncle. One son, Joseph, and daughter, Mary, were sent down to the southern tip of Latin America, all the way up to San Francisco, where they were given to the care of a pub and inn keeper, methinks named Charles Godsil. Either Charles or his brother were said to have been soldiers in the Union Army, which fought the war against the Confederate Armies, which brought an end to 10,000 years of officially sanctioned slavery in Western civilization.

The girl became a nun in Belmont California and her brother Joseph became a molder, i.e. a factory worker who helps make metal objects. Joseph eventually moved to St. Louis, Missouri, sort of like the Timbuktu of North America, i.e. a central trade route between east and west, north adn south. Not long before the Great World’s Fair of St. Louis (“Meet Me in St. Louie, Louie”), Joseph met my great grandmother, Mary Duncan, whose family had moved from Glasgow, Scotland, where she worked one half day in a textile mill at the age of 10!

(to be continued)

Godsil


August 31, 2004

Milwaukee Confronts Its Racist Legacy at the Soldiers Home

There will be a planning meeting tonight at the Soldiers Home Foundation Office at Building One of the Historic Soldiers Home District, just to the south of the Soldiers Home Castle(also called “Old lMain”), always open to the public, easily reached at the VA exist, same as the south parking lot of Miiller park, or by going north at 47th & National, in the direction of the Castle.

Most of the Soldiers among the 43,000 buried at the Soldiers Home Wood’s Cemetary are of European origins, especially German, Irish, Polish, and Italian. But all of God’s children have fought and died in all of the wars, and just about every “identity” of these United States has soldiers and their families buried at these sacred grounds.

The Soldiers Home Foundation is very interested in making a deep lesson on citizenship and community a birthright for our children.

The public will be able to enjoy these grounds and meet with the leaders of the movement to Save the Soldiers Home for the ages and the people tonight at 5 p.m.

This is very late notice, so perhaps you might be interested in on-line conversations about the movement to save the Soldiers Home and open it to our children and our citizens from every nation of the planet.

Sincerely,

James J. Godsil
Milwaukee Renaissance On-Line Broadcaster


September 18, 2004

Menomonee Valley Developments

Dear Elysse, Michael, and “Prout,”

Are you folks still at all involved in the Menomonee Valley vision?

If the Valley’s renewal still interests you, do you judge it worthy of becoming one of the possible “destinations” for some of the NAACP conventioneers who will visit our fair city, Summer 2005?

Perhaps a start at the Hank Aaron trail and…???

Here is a letter I sent some of my urban ecology friends re the NAACP convention. I would very much appreciate your thoughts in this regard.

Clear sailing,

Godsil

I am hoping to enlist you and some of your ecology allies in a process that will find a complete re-visioning of Milwaukee from a, on the negative stereotype side, racist, rednecked working class city to a humanistic, universalistic, inclusive creative working class city.

A good place to start in my mind is to help Omar Gagale and Youssouf Komara spark the emergence of an African music and culture venue in Milwaukee, to be called “Timbuktu.”

Timbuktu should be in place by the time the NAACP National Convention in Milwuakee arrives in the summer of 2005!

Timbuktu would offer the conventioneers a great banquet of African food, a great series of performances by African musicians, dancers, poets, and more.

We are hoping to launch a grand alliance of Milwaukeeans from all of God’s identity groups, to start with some on-line conversation about the creation of Timbuktu, Milwaukee, punctuated occasionally with great meals at Lula’s East African Cafe, where, perhaps, the Milwaukee Renaisance will begin, at least with respect to the issue of racial healing and reconciliation.

What say?

Clear sailing,

Godsil


September 18, 2004

Menomonee Valley and NAACP 2005 Conventioneer Milwaukee Destinations

Dear Mary Beth and Peter,

Do you judge the Menomonee Valley worthy of becoming one of the possible “destinations” for some of the NAACP conventioneers who will visit our fair city, Summer 2005?

Perhaps a start at the Hank Aaron trail and…???

Here is a letter I sent some of my urban ecology friends re the NAACP convention. I would very much appreciate your thoughts in this regard.

Clear sailing,

Godsil

I am hoping to enlist you and some of your ecology allies in a process that will find a complete re-visioning of Milwaukee from a, on the negative stereotype side, racist, rednecked working class city to a humanistic, universalistic, inclusive creative working class city.

A good place to start in my mind is to help Omar Gagale and Youssouf Komara spark the emergence of an African music and culture venue in Milwaukee, to be called “Timbuktu.”

Timbuktu should be in place by the time the NAACP National Convention in Milwuakee arrives in the summer of 2005!

Timbuktu would offer the conventioneers a great banquet of African food, a great series of performances by African musicians, dancers, poets, and more.

We are hoping to launch a grand alliance of Milwaukeeans from all of God’s identity groups, to start with some on-line conversation about the creation of Timbuktu, Milwaukee, punctuated occasionally with great meals at Lula’s East African Cafe, where, perhaps, the Milwaukee Renaisance will begin, at least with respect to the issue of racial healing and reconciliation.

What say?

Clear sailing,

Godsil


September 18, 2004

Milwaukee Public Schools & the NAACP 2005 Convention

Dear MPS Principal,

I am part of a group that hopes to connect Milwaukee Public Schools with on-line brainstorming to prepare Milwaukee to offer a fantastic experience for the thousands of NAACP conventioneers who will grace our fair city this coming Summer of 2005. Here is a letter we have sent out to urban ecology and business improvement district leaders. We would welcome your thoughts and would hope you can imagine incorporating this upcoming convention of great significance for racial healing in Milwaukee into your school curriculum. We have a number of people who participated in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s available to consult with you and participate in this effort. I am also working with Peter Blewett, among many others, to help save the Soldiers Home and ideally make it available for the MPS Museum.

Clear sailing,

James J. Godsil

I am working with a group that hopes to help set in motion a process that will re-vision Milwaukee from a, on the negative stereotype side, racist, rednecked working class city to a humanistic, inclusive, creative working class city.

A good place to start in my mind is to help Omar Gagale and Youssouf Komara spark the emergence of an African music and culture venue in Milwaukee, to be called “Timbuktu.”

Timbuktu should be in place by the time the NAACP National Convention in Milwuakee arrives in the summer of 2005!

Timbuktu would offer the conventioneers a great banquet of African food, a great series of performances by African musicians, dancers, poets, and more.

We are hoping to launch a grand alliance of Milwaukeeans from all of God’s identity groups, to start with some on-line conversation about the creation of Timbuktu, Milwaukee, punctuated occasionally with great meals at Lula’s East African Cafe, where, perhaps, the Milwaukee Renaisance will begin, at least with respect to the issue of racial healing and reconciliation.

The NAACP visitors really should be made aware of “backstreet” Milwaukee treats like

  • Lula’s East African Cafe—Lula thought African music, food, and reception would be great

  • Will Allen’s Growing Power

  • The Soldiers Home—Dr. King’s Speech set in bronze and stone next to Abe’s Gettysburg

  • Bean Head Cafe

  • Karen Spencer’s Deja Vu

  • Brad Pruitt’s films

  • Urban Anthropology’s “Backstreet Tours”

  • The 16th St. Viaduct

  • Dedication Site for Lloyd Barbee Honor, 20th Century Father of Wisconsin Civil Rights

  • The Bay View Massacre & Groppi’s Market

  • The Acanthus Inn Bed & Breakfast

  • The Gordon Park Public Sculpture

  • And lots more places the brainstorming/on-line conversations will identify

What say?

Clear sailing,

Godsil


September 18, 2004

Dear Peter,

It is my understanding that an MPS school is likely to be named after Lloyd Barbee, the 20th Century Father of the Civil Rights Movement of Wisconsin.

If this is the case, might it not make sense to integrate the school dedication into school curriculum these coming months and the NAACP 2005 Convention this Summer?

Would it not make sense to have the decision ceremony coincide with the NAACP convention and a presentation by MPS students of some of their discoveries regarding Lloyd Barbee and the civil rights movement of Milwaukee this next several months?

Very few MPS students I have spoken with have every heard of Lloyd Barbee.

Not many know much about the great history of the NAACP.

Few have ever heard of WEB DuBois.

Below is a letter I’ve sent out to MPS principals, BID leaders, and urban ecologists in this regard. Your comments and, ideally, support would be greatly appreciated.

Godsil


September 20, 2004

CHARLES BARRON
Democratic

Party Enrolled In: Democratic Party

Occupation: President/CEO, Dynamics of Leadership, Inc.

Occupational Background: Project Director, Ocean-Hill Brownsville Voter Participation Project of the Community Service Society of New York.

Educational Background: Associate of Science Degree in Liberal Arts, New York City Community College; Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with a minor in Elementary Education, Hunter College.

Organizational Affiliations: Chairperson, East New York United Front; President - Bradford Street Block Association; Member of The House of The Lord Church.

Prior Public Experience: Chairperson, Area Policy Board, Lower East Side, Manhattan. 1984 Steering Committee Member, of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition.

Join the unions; 1199/SEIU, 32BJ/SEIU, United Auto Workers, CSEA Region II, CWA 1182, the Unity Party, Working Families Party, ACORN, and numerous local Tenants and Block Association’s Presidents, along with the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Herbert Daughtry, Mayor David Dinkins, clergy and grassroots leaders who have endorsed my campaign.

They have supported my campaign because I am a 30 year community activist, a leadership trainer who has trained over 90,000 people nationwide. I’ve lead the charge to convert coal fired furnaces to natural gas furnaces in our schools; stopped the building of an environmentally hazardous incinerator, closed down a corner store selling illegal drugs, fought against police brutality and racial profiling, marched to Albany with Rev. Al Sharpton and forced Governor Pataki to restore budget cuts in youth programs, CUNY/SUNY budget, affordable housing budget, and economic development for our district, just to name a few.

The agenda of “The Peoples’ Campaign” includes: a plan for community safety; local school councils for quality education; an environmental justice action agenda; job creation and economic development; youth leadership and entrepreneurship programs; affordable health care plan, a community land/real estate ownership plan; a police residency law; and a senior citizen quality of life program.

Thank God we will have a new Mayor as we move into the 21st century. In addition, new election officials citywide and 36 new City Councilors. I come highly qualified, highly committed and humbly willing to serve with integrity and trust worthiness.


October 27, 2004

MilwaukeeArtistResourceNetwork@yahoogroups.com

Rainbow Project Team to Welcome NAACP’s 10,000 Conventioneers July 2005

Dear All,

Might there be some folks who would enjoy an on-line conversation about ways to make the experience of the NAACP conventioneers a great and memorable one that will find them very happy they came to Milwaukee, and will inspire them to tell lots of the 25,000,000 souls a days drive from Milwaukee that there are all kinds of artists, artisans, performance artists, chefs, tour guides, architectural treasures, magnificent parks, the lake, and more, that make Milwaukee worth visiting and spending money at.

What say?

Clear sailing,

Godsil


October 27, 2004

WestSide_Milwaukee@yahoogroups.com

West Side Team to Welcome NAACP’s 10,000 Conventioneers July 2005

Dear All,

Might there be some folks who would enjoy an on-line conversation about ways to make the experience of the NAACP conventioneers a great and memorable one that will find them very happy they came to Milwaukee, visited the West Side, and will inspire them to tell lots of the 25,000,000 souls a days drive from Milwaukee that there are all kinds of artists, artisans, performance artists, chefs, tour guides, architectural treasures, magnificent parks, the lake, and more, that make Milwaukee worth visiting and spending money at.

What say?

Clear sailing,

Godsil


October 28, 2004

Dear Tess,

I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this. If they are favorable, I hope you will forward this or parts of it to your Riverwest community!

Godsil

Dear All,

I am sadly sure that there was some wailing and gnashing of teeth among young NAACP leaders from across the nation when they heard the word that Milwaukee was to be host to 10,000 to 20,000 of them at their National Convention in Milwaukee, July 2005.

“What the hell are we going to do in Milwaukee for 8 days,” I suspect many exclaimed.

“Milwaukee is a racist, red necked factory town with nothing going down,” some complained.

But others correctly responded:

“Milwaukee is a Jewel of a City!”

“There are tens of thousands of Euro Americans, Asians, Latinos, and Indians who are working hard to transcend racism and are thrilled at the chance to roll out a red carpet for our venerable organizations.”

“Milwaukee has scores of well preserved old city neighborhoods on the rebound. Milwaukee has great architecture, all kinds of new places to eat, drink, and dance, an explosion of new culture scenes catering to all of God’s children. And rest assured there will be many groups of Milwaukeeans getting together in the months before the convention to figure out a way for us to have a great time of it. Milwaukee wants to make itself a destination for greater shares of the 25,000,000 souls a day’s drive away. We will be a test case for Milwaukee’s focus on developing a heritage and culture tourism industry.”

There are great delights we can offer the NAACP conventioneers, foremost among them would be our creating social occasions where everyday Milwaukee citizens can extend hearty welcomes and enlightening, entertaining, and great fun things to do.

Might there be anyone who would like to have some on-line conversations about connecting Riverwest with the NAACP conventioneers?

Clear sailing,

Godsil


October 28, 2004

UWM Red Carpet for NAACP Conventioneers

Dear

After the election I would very much appreciate your help in rallying some UWM student interns and faculty to help roll out the red carpet for the NAACP Conventioneers this summer.

Godsil


October 29, 2004

From: TonyOfoto@aol.com
Subject: Re: Rainbow Project Team to Welcome NAACP’s 10,000 Conventioneers July 2005
To: cmtyroof@execpc.com

I’ll help out. Tony


November 1, 2004

To: <WestSide_Milwaukee@yahoogroups.com>
From: “Tom & Dona & Rosa” <tmspell@execpc.com>
Subject: Re: [WestSide] Julian Bond, Chair NAACP, & IRS Intimidation

Include me Tom Spellman


Last edited by g.   Page last modified on March 04, 2005

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