Thursday, May 7, 2020 - 3:27pm

Milele Chikasa Anana, perhaps best known for publishing UMOJA Magazine, passed away May 6, 2020 after discontinuing dialysis.

Milele grew up in Tulsa, with all the frustrations of Jim Crow. She went to college in Alabama and eventually ended up in Madison.

A civil rights activist and black business leader, Anana is also a former City of Madison Affirmative Action Officer (1974-79) and the first African American elected to the Madison school board. While working for the City she created the Women’s Issues Committee and the Minority Affairs Committee, both served to amplify voices of employees who did not always feel heard. As Affirmative Action Officer, she gave out Turkey Awards and Recognition Awards to City managers, depending on how well they fulfilled affirmative action’s goals, further keeping those in power on the right track.

Anana also served as Interim Director of the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission. In later years, she partnered with the Black Chamber of Commerce, developing a directory of black-owned businesses and championed Black Restaurant Week.

In 2009, she was awarded the City of Madison's Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, preferring however, to miss the celebration in order to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Of all her many accomplishments, UMOJA was Milele. She put the magazine out almost single-handedly month after month starting in 1990, securing the artwork, selling the ads, interviewing, photographing, telling positive news on every page. The magazine was known for its covers, each month featured an original piece of artwork by an African American artist. She will be missed for the beauty and positive news she worked so hard to share each month and her lasting positive impact on countless lives.


Civil Rights