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James Causey

Editor and reporter James Edward Causey was born on August 1, 1969 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Otha R. Causey and James D. Causey. Causey graduated from Marshall High School in Milwaukee in 1987. He received his B.A. degree in communications from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 1992 and his M.B.A. from Cardinal Stritch University in Fox Point, Wisconsin in 2002.

Causey became interested in journalism in middle school when he won an essay contest about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Milwaukee Community Journal, the state's largest African-American newspaper. He started writing for that newspaper periodically and then, as a student at Marshall High School, landed an internship at the Milwaukee Sentinel. Causey then worked as a reporter for the Milwaukee Sentinel from 1987 through 1995. Since 1995, Causey has been a reporter, editor, and editorial writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he has also served as the night city editor. Causey became an editor in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's metro department in 1999. That same year, he began serving as the president and treasurer for the Wisconsin Black Media Association. In 2008, Causey was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He joined the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's editorial board in June 2008 as an editorial writer on urban affairs.

Causey resides in Milwaukee and has one child, Taylor Marie Causey.

Causey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 17, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.132

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/17/2008

Last Name

Causey

Maker Category
Middle Name

Edward

Occupation
Schools

Marquette University

John Marshall High School

Robert M. Lafollette School

Samuel Clemens School

Jackie Robinson Middle School

Cardinal Stritch University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Milwaukee

HM ID

CAU02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Wisconsin

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

Shouldn't I Be Good?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Birth Date

8/1/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Newspaper reporter James Causey (1969 - ) was a reporter, editor, editorial writer and night city editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Causey also served as an editor in the paper's Metro department, as an editorial writer on urban affairs as the president and treasurer for the Wisconsin Black Media Association.

Employment

Milwaukee Community Journal

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Causey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Causey lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Causey describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Causey describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Causey talks about his mother's education in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Causey describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Causey describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Causey remembers meeting his paternal uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Causey recalls visiting his paternal uncle in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Causey remembers his paternal grandparents, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Causey remembers his paternal grandparents, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Causey describes his paternal family's land in Gloster, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Causey talks about the traditional medical practices of Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Causey remembers his family's superstitions

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Causey recalls his parents' taste in music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Causey talks about his father's interests

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Causey describes his father's experiences in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Causey talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Causey describes his parents' occupations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Causey describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Causey describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Causey remembers his childhood pastimes

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Causey recalls his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Causey describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Causey recalls his early interest in the news

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Causey remembers Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Causey talks about the Al Moreland Boxing Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Causey remembers refusing an invitation to join a gang

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Causey recalls the gang activity in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - James Causey remembers joining the staff of the Milwaukee Community Journal

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - James Causey describes his experiences at the Milwaukee Community Journal

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Causey remembers working with Speech at the Milwaukee Community Journal

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Causey describes the festivals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Causey talks about the America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Causey describes his internship with the Milwaukee Sentinel

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Causey remembers covering Jeffrey Dahmer for the Milwaukee Sentinel

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Causey describes the Milwaukee Police Department's discrimination against Jeffrey Dahmer's victims

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Causey remembers Jeffrey Dahmer's arrest and death

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Causey talks about the Milwaukee Police Department's relationship with the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Causey remembers his experiences at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Causey recalls his mentors in the field of journalism

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - James Causey talks about the influence of comic books on his writing

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Causey talks about his career at the Milwaukee Sentinel

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Causey talks about diversity in the journalism industry

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Causey talks about his efforts to reduce discriminatory reporting

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Causey talks about Christopher J. Scarver

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Causey recalls his roles at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Causey remembers his Harvard Nieman Fellowship

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Causey recalls becoming an editorial writer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Causey remembers the fatal beating of Charles Young, Jr., pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Causey remembers the fatal beating of Charles Young, Jr., pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Causey talks about his plans for his career

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Causey describes his journalistic influences

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Causey talks about his current project

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Causey describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Causey reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Causey reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Causey describes his role in the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Causey talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Causey shares his advice for young black journalists

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Causey describes his values

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - James Causey describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
James Causey remembers his family's superstitions
James Causey remembers covering Jeffrey Dahmer for the Milwaukee Sentinel
Transcript
Now are there any other cultural traditions out of Mississippi that they cling to, like are there stories or songs and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Superstitions.$$--yeah, ghost stories or stuff?$$Super-yeah. Oh yeah, you know. When growing up in that house, it was just like, "Don't sweep after like seven o'clock, don't have a broom go across your shoes that brings you bad luck." My [paternal] grandmother [Ruth Anderson Pinkney] was huge on superstition. Like when there wa- like if anytime it was thundering and lightning, when she would--the lightning would flash, she'd be like (makes noise), she would freeze like this and tell you, she want you--she would demand you to freeze no matter what. So if you hear like--so as soon as the lightning flash, you gotta like (gesture), she would like literally stop and get quiet until the thunder sound and then she would go on and move around. It's just little things like that that are so, you know, "Whoa, what is this grandma?" Yeah, she still believed that when it was lightning you unplug everything in the house, unplug everything and be quiet. She would just sit there and, and just sit there, and in almost complete darkness, it was amazing. My mother [Otha Tobias Causey] and father [James D. Causey] knows all these little things better. You know, another thing you take fruit and like you--like an orange or something like that--I'm probably, I'm probably telling too much. But you like for good luck you take a piece of fruit that has never been--that was picked from a tree, well all fruit--it, it can't be fruit from a store basically. You take a orange or a pear or something like that and you put it in a corner or you put it someplace and just let it dry out, and it's supposed to take in all the negative energy that's in the house. And you know, it's funny because sometime I will be walking through my apartment and my--after my mother had came over and I'm like, what is this orange doing right--there's an orange over here, what is this, you know (laughter). Stuff like that. Tape a penny over the entrance way and it brings you good luck. It's just little things like that, and it just, you know, it passes on, you know. But the penny over the entrance way is a good one too. I think it's supposed to bring you prosperity in, in future earnings. So it, you know, over the doorway to the main entrance, my mother has a penny taped over the door. So, little things like that.$$Okay, well thank you for that--that's a, that's a--$$(Laughter).$$--no, no those are interesting things that--$The following year I came back again [to the Milwaukee Sentinel; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel], they invited me back and so that summer I got more experience and they gave me bigger assignments. When I was accepted at Marquette University [Milwaukee, Wisconsin] I started working more part time at the paper instead as an intern. I worked part time during the school year and full time during the summer as an intern. And I worked the police beat, working a 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. shift while I was at school. And so I was going out to shootings, stabbings, fires, you name it and writing briefs and stories on it for the police--on the police beat. And that's when we first heard about the Jeffrey Dahmer incident or Jeffrey Dahmer really came into everyone's world. It was the night that I was working the night police beat and--$$This is 1980--was it '88 [1988]?$$Eighty-eight [1988].$$Eighty-eight [1988], okay.$$And we got this call that, you know, there was a poss- possible bodies in a home or body parts. And I called over to the newsroom and they sent out Tina Burnside who was the--she was a night reporter and she went to the scene. She was actually the first reporter at the scene. She didn't get credit for being the first reporter at the scene, but she was really the first reporter at the scene. Now we got in a small brief in the paper, because it was--we were up against a deadline basically saying that the police are still investigating, but it's reported body parts in this--in this home. The Journal [Milwaukee Journal; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel] which is the evening paper, they came in and then they got their first real big story on this, which was--turned out to be more gruesome than anyone could imagine. That was the story. But--however, if you were here at the time, everyone worked on that Jeffrey Dahmer story.$$Now, well we talked off camera about what it meant for this community, I mean how horrible it was in so many aspects and one aspect you talked about was how--what it revealed about the police relationship to the black community?$$Exactly. There's always been friction between police and, and the black community. And it's--you can go back as far as you, you could think and there's been this friction. There's been some times where there hasn't been conflict on the surface, but it's always been conflict in be- behind the scenes. But, Dahmer who was white, most of his victims or thirteen of his victims were African American and most of them were gay. This was a whole different type of arena then anyone was accustomed to. It wasn't just black and white, it was like black, white and gay, and that was a whole different community that, you know, Milwaukee [Wisconsin] had not really addressed or dealt with. I--as a matter of fact, I don't even remember seeing many stories about gays or lesbians in our newspaper up until that time. And I read the newspaper religiously. It was--so--the, the night Dahmer was--we, we know that Dahmer could've been stopped after our investigation a month--months before he was actually caught.