By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 17, 2005 at 5:27 AM

It perhaps gets less press than James Cameron's American Black Holocaust Museum, but Clayborn Benson III's Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum is one of the state's premier institutions for the study of African-American contributions and life in Wisconsin.

The museum, located at 2620 W. Center St., was founded by Benson in 1987 and became an affiliate of The State Historical Society the following year. Making its home in a restored 1898 firehouse, which later served as a neighborhood library, the museum underwent expansion and renovation a few years ago.

In addition to a permanent exhibit -- conceived by Benson and executed by artist George Gist -- that traces African history from ancient Egypt to African-Americans in contemporary Wisconsin, the museum features changing shows such as "Work'n in the Promised Land: African American Labor Struggles in Wisconsin," which examines the social, economic and historical forces that influenced the state's African-American workers.

The Wisconsin Black Historical Society archives and library houses articles, books, documents, artifacts, videos and other materials available for use by scholars, researchers, writers, students and the community. One highlight is "Black Communities/Wisconsin," a two-and-a-half-hour video that focuses on the African-American experience in America's Dairyland.

Serving also as a community cultural center, the museum hosts a wide range of events, programs and activities open to the public. Groups can also use the facility for events, seminars, conferences and community events.

All Milwaukeeans are encouraged to support the museum by becoming a supporting member. Information is available on the Web (see below).

The Wisconsin Black Historical Society is open Tuesday-Friday, noon-6 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, call (414) 372-7677 or visit the museum's Web site at

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 episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," 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 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 has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

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