Last week, Keith Stanley, Executive Director of Near West Side Partners, was invited to speak as a panelist for Visit Milwaukee’s webinar on racial inequality in the hospitality industry. The webinar was hosted by Cecilia Gore, Executive Director of the Brewers Community Foundation, and the other panelists were Sojourner White, Chauntel McKenzie, and Fanny Müller.
Keith shared in the beginning of the interview that he is a “unique traveler” and prefers to go off the beaten path when traveling to new places. For example, he described Freedman’s Cemetery in Dallas, Texas as “beautiful, touching, [and] powerful” and said he enjoyed his visit to Greensboro, North Carolina because he was able to see where the civil rights protests occurred over 60 years ago. While he admits these places are not as welcoming as the more popular tourist attractions, he explains it is because they are not as well known and are not as accustomed to travelers.
Keith graduated from Alabama State University, a historically black college, and says he wants to connect with history relating to him and his culture while traveling. He believes there is “so much African American history all over the country,” such as the Black Wallstreet in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Underground Railroad.
The Milton House Inn is the last certified Underground Railroad Station in Wisconsin that can be toured. Just over an hour from Milwaukee, click here to schedule your tour today!
The panel discussed how “traveling like a local” is trending and was asked how local businesses can better position themselves to be seen as travel destinations. Keith explained that “Milwaukee is more than some destinations downtown,” and once people realize that, the City has so much to offer. The panelists mentioned Mo’s Asian Fish Market, Sherman Phoenix, and Alice’s Garden as locations that make Milwaukee unique and Müller said, “anything that is fundamentally unique always sells.”
Pictured above: Alice’s Garden Urban Farms, located at 2136 N. 21st Street
At the end of the interview, there was time for a brief Q&A session from viewers and one Midtown resident asked panelists how local events could receive funding to attract visitors. Keith explained that consistency and vision is key, and that “money will follow vision.” It is important for local vendors and event organizers to work with the communities they are involved in, have strong leadership and administration, and stay consistent.
To learn more about Visit Milwaukee and all of the different things to get to know the City even better, visit their website here.
For additional information about the various panelists you can visit their websites here:
Sojourner White: www.sojournies.com
Chauntel McKenzie: www.powhernetwork.org
Fanny Müller: www.lafreecaine.com