By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 05, 2019 at 2:01 PM

In honor of Black History Month, the Milwaukee Public Museum has created a program spotlighting the story of the Watson family, who will offer insights into the city’s African-American community at the dawn of the 20th century.

"Sully and Susanna Watson took their family from the oppressive conditions of antebellum Virginia in 1834 and, after several years in Ohio, arrived in Milwaukee in 1850," notes the MPM web site. "Through skilled labor and business entrepreneurship, the couple played a vital role in establishing Milwaukee’s black middle class."

You can meet the Watsons for free on Thursday, Feb. 7 when admission to the Milwaukee Public Museum is free as part of Kohl’s Thank You Thursday.

Free admission also includes one planetarium show on the first Thursday of every month.

A daily programs, Mondays-Fridays, from 10 a.m. until noon, will use artifacts and objects that actually belonged to the family to help illustrate their lives in Milwaukee. The program hours will be expanded to 2 p.m. on Thank You Thursday.

The objects are drawn from a collection of Watson family papers and photographs that arrived at the museum in 1992. Eight years later, a Watson family home was added to the Streets of Old Milwaukee.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.