Dear Network members and supporters,

Happy Black History Month!

The 2024 Black History Month Theme is "African Americans and the Arts." It's a celebration of the impact of Black Americans on music, visual arts, cultural movements and more. In honor of the theme of this year's Black History Month, our newsletter highlights Black Cultural events in film, stage and visual arts.

Our newsletter will also a special spotlight on 2 Network members, highlights from a Menthol Funeral in D.C., and much more. As always, thank you for your support of tobacco prevention efforts and Happy Black History Month!


Lorraine Lathen

Director, WAATPN and WTPPN

Historical Perspective: Tobacco & Slavery

Lorraine Lathen

As we celebrate Black History Month, we also take this occasion to highlight the troubling relationship that Black America has had with the tobacco industry.  In his manuscript, Tobacco and slavery: a never ending history,  Von Luciano Ruggia masterfully documents how from its origins, the history of tobacco is intimately linked to slavery.  Introduced to West Africa by the Europeans, tobacco became a popular commodity among Africans. By 1607, it was cultivated in Sierra Leone.  By 1611, it was used in the Congo to suppress hunger. By the mid-17th century, tobacco and tobacco pipes were well-established as one of the main goods used to buy slaves on the African coast.  

Jerome Handler documents  the absurdity of the distribution of pipes and tobacco to slaves during the Middle Passage to control the “cargo” by suppressing hunger, minimizing social unrest and putting the enslaved in a better mood before being sold or transshipped from one American port to the next. The slave trade brought tobacco to North American colonies, mainly Virginia, to supply the English market. Slaves in North America now cultivated the very crop that had enslaved them. Not until the Emancipation Proclamation did Blacks in America cease to cultivate tobacco fields as slaves. Still the tobacco industry refused to release its hold on free Black labor. They now used the deception of sharecropping, Jim Crow, the chain gangs, incarceration and generations of Black Americans to cultivate their tobacco fields. 

Sadly,  the multi-billion tobacco industry of today has been built on the backs of slaves and their lineage. This success has been achieved to the detriment of Black health and through the egregious behaviors that are so deeply entrenched in the tobacco industry’s DNA.

Bringing Same Game Different Smoker to Wisconsin

Planning continues to bring Same Game Different Smoker, an exhibit that explores the troubling history between the Black Community and the Tobacco Industry, to Wisconsin. We continue to work to bring the exhibit to Milwaukee in 2024 and in Madison in 2025.

ALA: State of Tobacco Control Report

American Lung Association Releases Grades for Wisconsin: The annual ALA report evaluates states and the federal government on the proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies necessary to save lives.

The American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Wisconsin's elected officials to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:

  1. Raise Wisconsin's legal age of sale for tobacco products to 21;
  2. Protect the statewide smoke-free air law; and
  3. Protect tobacco prevention and control funding.

Network Member Spotlight!

Pat Wilson, WAATPN Menthol Community Organizer, has been very busy this year raising awareness on menthol! Recently, she joined others from the across the nation in honoring the 45,000 African Americans who die each year from tobacco at a Menthol Funeral near the White House in D.C.

"Attending the Menthol Funeral in Washington D.C. was a humbling experience. To stand united with people all over the nation just as committed as I am about the negative effect smoking cigarettes have on our community, words just cannot express."- Pat Wilson

Dr. Steven Tipton, pastor at El Bethel Church of God in Christ, recently participated in a faith-based White House call on Menthol.

"Faith moves mountains and menthol. It was a wonderful experience to collaborate and hear from so many faith leaders from across the country that share the same sentiments for the ban on menthol. We all agree that it is something that the White house needs to move on immediately. We can't sacrifice our community, while they postpone moving on this issue."

Black History Month Events in Milwaukee

  • Black History Month Challenge Kickoff Event at Good Hope Library- Feb. 1st 3:30-5:30 p.m. (Download MPL BHM Challenge Flyer)
  • Milwaukee Film Presents Black History Month

View Films and Events Here

Khole's Beautiful Blues

A message from Milwaukee playwright, La’Ketta Caldwell

Khole’s Blue is inspired by the story of one of my students who endured bullying because of her skin color, this play serves as a beacon of hope and empowerment. It reminds us that true beauty transcends physical appearances; it resides with the depths of our being, in the kindness we show and the love we share. February 24, 1:00, King Center.

Khloe's Beautiful Blues Community Show Link

Free Screening of "Black Men In White Coats"

Black Men in White Coats Documentary Screening


Saturday, February 24, 1-3 p.m.

Marcus Performing Arts Center

929 S. Water St., Milwaukee, 53202

Order Complimentary Tickets Here

Menthol Funeral comes to White House

On Jan. 18, 2024, advocates from around the nation held a Menthol Funeral near the White House. Reverend Horace Sheffield III delivered the eulogy for the Louisiana style funeral. The funeral was followed by a press conference featuring Mayors from the across the nation, who asked White House officials to take action on menthol.

Up-Close with African Americans & Low-SES

February Meetings & Events

Menthol Subcommittee Meeting

Wednesday February 7, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM --Via Zoom

Click Here to register.

Writing for Social Change: A Workshop Inspired by Faith

Thursday, February 15, 10 AM- 11 AM - via Zoom

Faith Community: Please join us in service by writing a letter asking President Biden to take action on Tobacco Prevention Measures!

Click Here to register.

Health Equity & Social Justice Subcommittee Meeting

Thursday February 22 , 10:00-11:00 AM, Via Zoom

Click Here to register.

Tobacco Retailer Compliance Workshop --Attend yourself or invite a retailer

Tuesday February 27 , 8:00 AM-9:15 AM,

Victory Manor Community Room

5556 N 68th St

Click Here to register.

X Share This Email
LinkedIn Share This Email