What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

Alabama A&M grad is now Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor

He grew up in Milwaukee but followed in his mom’s footsteps as a Bulldog

7:00 AMAn HBCU graduate has made history as the first African-American elected lieutenant governor in Wisconsin.

Mandela Barnes graduated from Alabama A&M University with a bachelor’s in telecommunications in 2008. He won the lieutenant governor seat after his running mate, Tony Evers, earned victory in the governor’s race against Republican incumbent Scott Walker.

He developed a passion for politics, although he has a communications degree, according to Al.com. He worked for different political campaigns as well as the office of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Eventually, he became an organizer for Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (M.I.C.A.H.), which advocates for social justice.

His decision to attend AAMU stemmed from his desire to follow in his mother’s footsteps, according to Al.com. His mother graduated from AAMU, and the family still makes it a tradition to attend the McDonald’s Magic City Classic, when AAMU’s Bulldogs face Alabama State in Birmingham each year. The game remains the biggest historically black college or university (HBCU) football event in Alabama.

“People always ask if HBCUs are still relevant, and I always said, ‘Yes, definitely.’ It’s a part of the culture,” Barnes said. “Everybody in Alabama, everybody in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, they all know somebody who is in college going to school regardless of living conditions.”

Barnes has experience that makes him more than qualified for the position as lieutenant governor. In 2012, he ran for Wisconsin State Assembly District 11 and won his seat. Then he was re-elected in 2014 without facing a challenge in the primary or general election. During his time in office, he authored pieces of legislation.

Sheila Stubbs, the first black person elected to a legislative seat from Wisconsin’s Dane County, offered insight about Barnes’ historic win. She believes that his win is a sign that “people are looking for change.”

Mandela was not the only Alabama HBCU graduate who made history this election. Birmingham native and Miles College graduate Danny Carr became the first African-American to be elected the Jefferson County, Alabama, district attorney.

Wisconsin does not have any HBCUs, so the choice to attend AAMU allowed him to receive higher education and to become immersed in black culture.

“Being from Milwaukee, you don’t get that same experience,” Barnes said to Al.com. “Even if you didn’t go to an HBCU, people go to the Classic. People go to homecoming. That whole social attachment in higher education, it’s just not the same in every community, especially in black communities where HBCUs don’t exist.”

During his time at AAMU, he became well-involved on campus. He became a member of the Gamma Phi chapter of Kappa Alpha Phi fraternity.

“Our whole chapter couldn’t be more happy for our brother,” said Roderick McCloud, a member of the Gamma Phi chapter.

Inside the ‘most lit’ LeBron-tinged spot at ComplexCon — ‘The Shop’ comes to life

‘A haircut makes you feel brand-new … like you got some new shoes on.’

2:37 PMLONG BEACH, Calif. — On the corner of “HBO” and “The Shop,” a fictional set of cross streets inside the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, stands a haven of camaraderie, conversation and, of course, cuts.

Yes, at the third annual ComplexCon, there was an actual barbershop celebrating HBO’s new The Shop, which debuted in August. The show takes viewers inside the barbershop, a staple of African-American male culture, for unfiltered conversations with the biggest names in sports and entertainment — all steered by LeBron James and his creative and business partner Maverick Carter.

In the season premiere, James discussed fatherhood with Golden State Warriors All-Star forward Draymond Green, comedian and cultural icon Jon Stewart, WNBA champion and MVP Candace Parker, Super Bowl champion/social activist Michael Bennett and hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg. In episode two, The Shop welcomed record-setting recording artist Drake, who broke the internet by opening up to James and Carter about his beef with Kanye West — and the drama behind the reveal that Drake is in fact a father.

The idea behind the series translates easily into one of the largest activation spaces at this year’s two-day ComplexCon. A team of barbers manned stations inside the hardwood-floored area, where they provided free fades, lineups and shape-ups to celebrities, influencers and even your average convention attendee. A DJ spun outside the makeshift building, and sneaker cleaning was offered out back. All the while, podcast host and social media maven Denise Jones conducted on-camera interviews with folks sitting in barber chairs as Bevel blades hummed across their heads.

“I think it’s the most lit booth at ComplexCon,” said celebrity barber Marcus Harvey, whose clientele includes NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill, NBA analyst/former All-Star Chris Webber, three-time NBA champion Klay Thompson and the legendary rapper Nas. “The barbershop is the last brick-and-mortar for anything.”

When HBO first announced The Shop, Harvey, who’s been working in the barber industry since he was 12 and has cut hair since he was 15, couldn’t believe it. “I was like, ‘Oh, s—!’ ” Harvey said while lining up rapper Nick Grant. “They’re showing some love to the culture, for real. … We always talk about the culture, the culture, the culture, but if you really think about it, the culture always starts in the barbershop. Every movement is started in the barbershop. Your barber is the first entrepreneur that you met. So for there to even be a show where the background is … community and entrepreneurship, it’s a whole ‘nother level. It’s dope that HBO could see that people are always going to connect with the barbershop.”

Hill, in town for ComplexCon fresh from inking a Fila lifetime endorsement deal, pulled up for a cut. So did Nas, an investor with the company that produces Bevel products. Geiva, a female master hairstylist for men based in New Jersey, shaped up rapper A-Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. And a few chairs away, Cena Barhaghi, co-founder and creative director of the popular streetwear brand Pink Dolphin, got hit with some clippers.

“A haircut makes you feel brand-new,” Barhaghi said, “like you got some new shoes on.”

Seems like the only two people who didn’t come through the booth were Carter and James. But understandably so, given the Los Angeles Lakers played a back-to-back on the same dates as ComplexCon. “I’ve already cut ‘Bron,” Harvey said. “On my barber bucket list is Barack Obama. Once I get Obama in my chair, I’m retiring for five days. I’ma fast. I’ma go on a Himalayan hike. And I’m gonna talk about what we talked about to myself.”

Who knows? Maybe Obama will make an appearance on The Shop this season. LeBron, if you’re reading this, make it happen.