On the second Saturday of February, 1986, fourteen individuals gathered at 9:00 a.m. in the conference center at Saint Matthews C.M.E. Church at 2944 North 9th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
These persons did not all know one another. They had been invited by Mr. Samuel Johnson and Mr. Reuben Harpole to attend a meeting for the purpose of "brainstorming" about an array of problems, issues, and concerns regarding the African-American community in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. Following the ordinary courtesies of introductions, the group decided that O.J. Johnson would chair the meeting. (Johnson would later be named the chair of the Executive Committee of the Community Brainstorming Conference -- hereinafter CBC -- and was succeeded by Judge Stanley Miller, Marvin Hannah, Loren Willis, Judge Louis Butler, Mildred Harpole, and Russell Stamper, Sr., the current chair.)
After a discussion that lasted over two hours, it was decided that monthly meetings would be held. It also was decided that provisional officers should be selected, and that a committee would be created to formulate a name for the group and draft a statement of purpose and a set of rules. O.J. Johnson was named the group's chair, and Anthony Fikes its treasurer. No other officers were named at this time. Winston Van Horne, Monroe Swan, and Stanley Miller were chosen for the "Committee on Naming, Purpose, and Rules." Finally, it was decided that the group should meet the fourth Saturday of each month, and the participation of the broader community would be sought.
Thus was the Community Brainstorming Conference and its now well-known and very highly regarded "Fourth Saturday Breakfast Forums," conceived and operationalized. CBC takes great pride in its openness, the integrity of its programming, its "James Howard Baker Award" and the empirical fact that through August 2012 it will have held 318 consecutive breakfast forums, with over 50,000 participants. Thus, CBC has been able to realize one of its fundamental, animating purposes; namely, a continuous drawing together of the visible and voiced and the invisible and voiceless in the community, for the sake of advancing the interests and good of African Americans in particular, and the city in general.