The annual Milwaukee World African Festival has been canceled. The festival blends “African and African American cultures.” However, with the festival becoming more violent each year, sponsors don’t want to come back. On previous years “African American” gang violence and rampant thefts have made people afraid to return. The festival has been canceled this year for lack of sponsors.
Across the nation, black or “African American” themed expos, festivals, reunions, ect. are plagued with worse violence each year.
Is this the end of African World Festival?
Teju Ologboni, a founding organizer of Milwaukee’s only African-American festival on the Summerfest grounds, has no doubts the event will return to the lakefront next year.
Ologboni was adamant about the return of the festival because he realizes its importance not only for local black people, but for Milwaukeeans in general.
In a city that’s nearly 40% black, not having a festival for African-Americans just like all the other ethnic festivals in town would be a particularly telling omission. Even with Juneteenth Day a long-standing tradition on the north side, African World Festival stood alone as a symbol of inclusion for the city’s festival schedule.
Some may actually breathe a sigh of relief there’s no African World Festival this year. With escalating violence in some parts of the central city, there was sure to be speculation about the possibility of black-on-black violence and gang activity this year. It would not be the first time that was an issue.
Ten years ago, gunfire at the festival threatened to ruin its future. One young suspect arrested for firing a gun at the festival in 1998 actually apologized from his jail cell because he realized his actions had marred what was essentially a positive event for the black community.
There were little or no problems with violence in ensuing years.
There are other black institutions in Milwaukee in financial straits, including America’s Black Holocaust Museum. The economy is bad for everyone, but it has grave impact on groups that have never enjoyed much financial prosperity to begin with.
I’m hopeful there will be an African World Festival next year, because it’s too important not to have one. It represented black Milwaukee’s claim to a beautiful lakefront that is a gift to all residents.