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500 Black Tuxedos event showcases community, offers hope for Milwaukee’s youth

The goal of the annual 500 Black Tuxedo Event is dressing up young men to provide them a physical reminder of what they’re worth and what they can be.

The 500 tuxes found inside Milwaukee’s Italian Community Center631 E. Chicago St., symbolized much more than a fashion statement.

Andre Lee Ellis has been putting on this event for the past 5 years. It featured 250 young men and 250 older men dressed to the nines and enjoying a meal together to promote community.

“Often times when [Black men are] in the news, they’re in orange jumpsuits. But this time they’re in tuxedos. That’s why it was important to take a picture on the steps of the Milwaukee County Courthouse, cause they were not in orange jumpsuits, they were in something better.”

Explained Andre Lee Ellis

Participants at the annual event shared with TMJ4 that having a place to celebrate the Black community is vital to its strength in the city.

“This suit inspires me that I can do good and that all young boys is not bad we can dress up and look nice,” said participant Latrelle Johnson.

The evening featured fine dining and powerful performances aimed at inspiring the men in the room to lean on each other to better the Milwaukee community.

“This is so essential,” shared Samuel Alford, a participant in event. “It’s a healing, dignifying space for Black men to be together in unity and peace. Not just to be in fine clothing, but in fine company.”

Ellis says little moments of hope and kindness are enough to change a person’s life for the better.

The constant cheers and roaring applause heard around the ballroom Saturday were proof to spectators that something as small as putting on a suit is enough to bring a community together.

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Written by Jamil Johnson