Milwaukee’s First African American Mayor, Cavalier Johnson Crusade Against Conversion Therapy

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mayor Cavalier Johnson, born in the city on November 5, 1986, to Denise Hardwick-Townsend, has a remarkable journey marked by dedication, resilience, and public service. Raised in a family of ten siblings, Johnson’s upbringing was rooted in the heart of Milwaukee. His father, a Milwaukee Public Schools janitor, contributed to his family’s livelihood, although detailed information about him remains elusive. Johnson’s educational path traversed through six different Milwaukee Public Schools, shaping his understanding of the city’s diverse communities.

Selected at the age of 14 for the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee’s Sponsor-A-Scholar Program, Johnson embarked on a pre-college journey aimed at nurturing academic success and graduation rates among participants. This early opportunity paved the way for Johnson’s future achievements. He graduated from Bay View High School in 2005 before pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he honed his leadership skills and political acumen.

Entering public service, Johnson served in Mayor Tom Barrett’s office from 2013 to 2015, where he played a pivotal role in coordinating outreach initiatives and crafting violence prevention strategies. In 2016, Johnson took a decisive step towards civic engagement by running for the Milwaukee Common Council, a platform he utilized to advocate for community-driven solutions and inclusive policies.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Johnson found personal fulfillment in family life, marrying Dominique Johnson and raising three children: Oliver, Bella, and Madison. His commitment to his community was evident in his legislative efforts, with Johnson authoring over 200 pieces of legislation during his tenure on the Common Council. Notably, his advocacy against conversion therapy underscored his commitment to protecting LGBTQ+ rights and promoting inclusivity within Milwaukee.

Upon assuming the role of acting mayor following Tom Barrett’s resignation in 2021, Johnson demonstrated his ability to lead with integrity and compassion. His subsequent victory in the 2022 mayoral election marked a historic moment for Milwaukee, as Johnson became the city’s first elected African American mayor. Garnering an impressive 72% of the vote, Johnson’s win symbolized a new era of representation and progress for Milwaukee’s diverse population.

While Johnson’s mayoralty is imbued with historic significance, he stands on the shoulders of past leaders like Marvin Pratt, Milwaukee’s first African American mayor. However, Johnson’s ascent to the city’s highest office embodies the resilience and determination of Milwaukee’s vibrant communities, reflecting a collective vision for a more inclusive and equitable future under his leadership.