Rep. Shelia Stubbs ( D-Madison) the first African American to be elected to her Assembly seat, addresses a crowd during an event to kickoff Black History Month last year in the Capitol Rotunda. (Photo by Jessica VanEgeren)
Rep. Shelia Stubbs ( D-Madison) the first African American to be elected to her Assembly seat, addresses a crowd during an event to kickoff Black History Month last year in the Capitol Rotunda. (Photo by Jessica VanEgeren)

Gov. Tony Evers’ administration is also appointing more Black leaders to head state agencies and more Black judges.

Wisconsin’s Black Caucus kicked off Black History Month on Monday by celebrating the historic number of Black representatives and senators elected to the state legislature and appointed as state department secretaries and judges.

With the election of Representatives Samba Baldeh (D-Madison), Dora Drake (D-Milwaukee), Supreme Moore-Omokunde (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Julian Bradley (R-Franklin), Wisconsin has the highest number of Black legislators in its history. 

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes recognized the milestone by saying, “That’s something that doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work to get there.”

Barnes also recognized the increased number of Black judges that have been appointed under the administration, which is particularly important given how disproportionately the justice system affects the Black community.

“Where we absolutely need people who understand the experiences of the black community,” Barnes said. “To serve where they can judge with compassion, where they can judge with understanding.”

The Evers administration has also appointed a greater number of Black individuals to head state departments: Dawn Crim, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services; Kevin Carr, Secretary of Wisconsin Department of Corrections; Carolyn Stanford Taylor, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Preston Cole, Secretary of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; and Anthony Burrell, Superintendent of the Wisconsin State Patrol.

“When I say thank you for being here it’s not just being here on a Zoom call because anyone can click ‘join meeting’ but to actually show up and practice what you preach and put people in the leadership positions who haven’t always gotten the chances that they’ve earned,” Barnes said to Evers.

Evers signaled that his administration plans to continue working toward greater representation, by announcing his appointees to the Governor’s Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council, which will be headed by Crim, and will advise his administration on how to sustainably promote equity, diversity and inclusion in state government.

“Our priority is and always has been building a Wisconsin that works for everyone, and in order to do that, we have to have a state government that reflects the people they serve,” Evers said in a press release. “Our agencies have done great work over the last two years to refocus the lens on equity and inclusion throughout the administration.”