Fit Oshkosh has received two grants to fund an art show entitled “Color-Brave Photo Project: Black and Brown faces a new narrative,” which celebrates People of Color who live in Oshkosh. Fit is a diversity education non-profit organization that supports social justice advocacy “because race matters.”
The nonprofit organization received a major grant of $9,900 from the Wisconsin Humanities Council and a $7,500 Community Impact Grant from the Oshkosh Community Foundation to support the show. One of the organization’s goals is to is create a community where everyone, regardless of racial identity, feels welcome, can “fit” in, are valued, and are treated with respect and dignity.
The exhibition includes 20 framed photographic portraits with stories about each subject. The stories will be compiled in a book and videos will be produced for social media. It is estimated that the project will impact more than 50,000 people of all ages throughout the Fox Valley. It will travel to 10 locations, beginning with the Paine Art Center and Gardens from April 19 through April 25. There will be guided discussions called “Color-Brave Conversations” at each location.
“The goal of this project is to overcome false ideas about why People of Color live in Oshkosh,” said Tracey Robertson, executive director of Fit Oshkosh. “Some of these ideas are that People of Color come here exclusively from the ‘hoods’ of Milwaukee or Chicago, that they only moved here to be students or staff at the university, or that they have moved here ‘because of the prison’. The last example is the most damaging and the most alarming.”
Because the exhibit includes stories, viewers will learn about the complexities of People of Color in Oshkosh. According to Robertson, this greater awareness is critical as Oshkosh becomes more diverse. Greater knowledge about People of Color will help ensure continued educational and economic success for the community.
Aaron Sherer, Executive Director of the Paine, says, “Art and storytelling are among the best ways to help make the world a better place. By seeing the faces and hearing the stories of Black and Brown citizens, our community will be given a deeper understanding of the many People of Color living here and the many meaningful reasons why they call Oshkosh home.”
Fit Oshkosh will help schools schedule field trips to the exhibition and present photo books to Oshkosh fourth grade classrooms. Middle schools, high schools and university students will also be encouraged to explore the project.
The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation awards Community Impact Grants to non-profit organizations to develop projects that serve the community and meet emerging community needs. The Wisconsin Humanities Council awards grants that help communities thrive and give people opportunities to share personal stories and explore culture and history.
Real Gospel Radio highly rated show
A program called Real Gospel Radio Oshkosh 101.9 FM has become one of the most popular shows on WOCT 101.9 FM, Oshkosh Community Radio.
Since its inception in 2016, Real Gospel Radio has become one of the station’s most listened-to programs. It is broadcast locally on WOCT on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. and is live streamed on the station’s website. Anyone, anywhere around the world, can link to the program at http://www.oshkoshmedia.org/1019FMListenLive.aspx
The station has continually seen a spike in the number of listeners who listen on the internet.
“This is one of the most listened-to programs by our internet audience,” said Jake Timm, media services coordinator at OCM. “New people—not our typical audience—tune into the station before and after the show. That means that, in addition to Tracey’s show, people hear other content before and after Real Gospel Radio and find out what our station is about.”
Oshkosh resident, Tracey Robertson, the show’s producer, developed the program in response to a specific need. A native of Chicago, she was able to tune into one Christian radio station and three Gospel radio stations, one of which is nationally renowned. She loves to listen to Gospel music and says, “Being raised around gospel music, I found that it not only ministered to my soul but also was, for me, therapeutic.”
She has served on the board of Oshkosh Community Media since 2014 and immediately noticed that there was no representation of any People of Color in their schedule. The show brings diversity to the station’s programing, which has a mission to present programing that is musically and culturally diverse, according to Timm. WOCT promotes positive social change and gives a voice to people and issues that lack access to the media.
“I haven’t’ seen another program like it,” Timm said. “It is refreshing. Tracey is awesome.”
Herself a board member at OCM, Robertson presented her idea for a Gospel program to the board. Board members liked the unique idea immediately.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to introduce this nationally-renowned music genre to the Oshkosh Community,” Robertson said.
She had never produced a radio show, so she was challenged to come up with a plan of what that might look like. She got some training in production from Oshkosh Media staff. “She is self-reliant as a producer,” Timm said. “We would like to have a lot more producers like her.”
Robertson is executive director and cofounder of Fit Oshkosh, a diversity education non-profit organization that supports social justice advocacy “because race matters.”