MILWAUKEE — Bronzeville Week kicked off its annual celebration early on Saturday morning with a run-walk down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The HaRUNbee 5k Walk/Run for Healthy Birth Outcomes began just after 8:30 a.m. following a group workout led by local fitness instructor Natalie Hayden.
“It is amazing. This my third year personally, and just to see everyone out in great spirits, thinking of how they could be a part of solving the problem," said Hayden.
The race -- raising awareness to prevent unhealthy birth outcomes and infant mortality -- partnered with Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District, the main force behind Bronzeville Week (Aug. 7 -14) activities.
The District, a City redevelopment initiative, works to promote African-American arts, culture and businesses in Harambee and adjacent Milwaukee neighborhoods.
"This isn’t about anything but bringing the culture and arts and entertainment back to life right here in Milwaukee.," said Deshea Agee, Executive Director of the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District.
"King Drive is sort of home base, where all of this happens, but we need more people coming out and supporting the events."
The HaRUNbee 5k started at the intersection of King Drive and North Avenue. And just up the road, runners and others recharged at local restaurants hosting brunch as part of Bronzeville Week.
"It’s a time to get together and celebrate our culture, celebrate food, diversity and just have a good time. Unity, music, our people," said Ronetta Watson, a 5k finisher.
She joined her friends for a post-race drink and meal at Skybox Sports Bar. Mi Casa Su Cafe also opened its doors for Saturday brunch.
Across the street from Skybox, Jerrin Hicks, the owner of Bronzeville Barber & Beauty Lounge, said history has been important for his business.
“I love operating in the Bronzeville neighborhood because of the historic prestige of it," said Hicks. "That’s why I named this Bronzeville Barber & Beauty Lounge. So I can represent the whole aspect of the heritage and neighborhood and people who actually made the neighborhood."
The Bronzeville of today, is inspired by the Bronzeville of the past and it's powerful jazz, blues and arts scene.
From the early 1900s through the 1950s, major acts like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Nat "King" Cole, performed in Bronzeville, according to the District's website.
Other activities on the first day of Bronzeville Week included the Well Mommy & Baby Care Package Drive-Up and Old School Day Party at Garfield's 502.