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Derek Mosley: From the bench to the heart of Milwaukee

todayFebruary 15, 2024 24

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HYFIN’s Anthony Foster and Derek Mosley

Milwaukee has many stories in its streets, and few individuals have become as much a part of the city’s narrative as former Judge Derek Mosley. While many know him for his judicial wisdom, few are privy to the facets composing his remarkable journey. Judge Mosley’s commitment to service, culinary zeal, and passion for bringing people together extend beyond the bench, making him a respected and beloved figure in Milwaukee.

At just 31 years old, Derek Mosley became one of Milwaukee’s youngest to don the judge’s robe, but his judicial acumen was years in the making. As a former prosecutor, Mosley knew the legal battlefield well and brought a wealth of experience and community intimacy to his role in the courtroom. He started his career deeply rooted in Chicago’s South Side culture but quickly found his home in Milwaukee, infusing his work with a palpable love for the city.

Mosley’s enthusiasm for food and its cultural connotations became critical to his identity. His interactions with local chefs and explorations of various cuisines have earned him a reputation as Milwaukee’s unofficial culinary ambassador. Through his adventures in local gastronomy, Mosley has spotlighted the city’s diverse food scene and used it as a conduit for cross-cultural connections.

Today, Mosley leads the Lubar Center at Marquette Law School, where his mission is to unite people from different walks of life to discuss prevalent issues. Whether through the ethnic heritage dinner series or educational programs like the MEDAL program exposing children to various professions, his heart for service reverberates through his current work. Mosley’s endeavors are a testament to his dedication to education, law, culture, and fellowship.

In a conversation with HYFIN’s DJ Anthony Foster for the series “Yesterday, Today. Tomorrow,” Derek Mosley opened up about his roots and his musical memories—from the pulsing beats of house music that soundtracked his Chicago upbringing to the age-defining concerts that left a lasting impression on him. This dialogue further illuminated the rich tapestry of experiences that have shaped Mosley, revealing a man whose professional and personal strides resonate with a love of life.

Judge Mosley’s candid recounting of his life’s music, his ascent to the bench at a young age, and his embrace of Milwaukee revealed the dimensions behind the man. His story is that of inspiration, a reminder of the importance of community, and a celebration of the power in bringing diverse voices and palates together. Whether through food or dialogue, his commitment to service and cultural engagement will remain a defining feature of Milwaukee’s vibrant panorama.

Musical Roots and Cultural Influence

Growing up in the South Side of Chicago, Mosley’s early years were steeped in the emergent beats of house music—a genre that defined an era and shaped him as much as his later legal pursuits. He fondly recalls nights lulled to sleep by the genre’s rapid BPMs, an unconventional lullaby that perhaps hinted at his future penchant for embracing the unconventional. Mosley’s recount of concert experiences—the shock and unity he felt during the show following the tragic death of Heavy D’s dancer, Trouble T Roy—provided a vivid tableau of the soundtrack to his youth.

The interview navigated his chronology of taste, from house music and early hip hop to an unexpected appreciation for EDM and freestyle in later years. Even more intimate were the details of family listening sessions where his father would challenge him to identify instruments—a practice that fostered an acute ear and a deep appreciation for the artistry in music. These memories speak to Mosley’s belief in the power of unity and understanding, as he drew parallels between the communal language of music and his aim to bring communities together.

The Language of Food

Mosley’s profound love for food and its capacity to transcend barriers became evident during the interview. He shared personal experiences that drew him closer to Milwaukee’s food scene—interactions with local chefs who revealed the craft behind their dishes, which ignited his passion for the flavors and the stories and connections that food could evoke.

His exploration of culinary delights merged with his commitment to his Milwaukee community—the local chefs becoming as much a part of his story as the meals they crafted. Mosley’s reflections transcended the mere act of dining, highlighting that for him, food is as much about culture, connection, and community as it is about sustenance.

A Future Woven by the Past and Present

Mosley’s vision for a united community was central to the conversation, informed by his past and acting upon the present to shape a more cohesive tomorrow. His narrative is a poignant reminder that while individual experiences are singular, they accumulate to inform one’s broader outlook and interactions with the world.

From influencing local young minds through the MEDAL program to annotating his culinary journey on social media, Mosley demonstrated that his approach to life is remarkably interdisciplinary. And indeed, his conversation with Foster provided a glimpse into how his multifarious interests dovetail with his enduring mission to serve—loyal not just to the letter of the law, but to the spirit of human connectedness.

A Continuing Narrative

Derek Mosley’s legacy extends well beyond judicial decisions and legal directives. It is a testament to a life dedicated to the triumphs and trials of a city he loves—a man whose impact is perhaps best measured not in legalities adjudicated but in relationships forged and communities strengthened.

Mosley’s tale is also an inspiration, a reminder of the enduring power of passion and purpose intertwined neatly with the essence of human connection. As “Yesterday, Today. Tomorrow.” unveiled, Derek Mosley’s narrative is not yet complete—instead, it continues to evolve, rich with contributions that sing to the collective melody of Milwaukee’s diverse and storied community.

Inspired playlist

This playlist encompasses the evolution of Mosley’s musical influences, from the foundational house tracks of his Chicago nights to the hip-hop beats of his concert experiences, mingling with the R&B and freestyle tunes that colored his college days, and ending with the soulful sounds that remind him of familial settings.

  1. Frankie Knuckles – “Your Love”
  2. Bad Boy Bill – “Bangin’ The Box Vol. 1”
  3. Julian “Jumpin'” Perez – Mixes from WBMX
  4. Tim “Spinnin'” Schommer – Various Mixes
  5. The House Master Boyz – “House Nation”
  6. Run-D.M.C. – “My Adidas”
  7. Beastie Boys – “No Sleep till Brooklyn”
  8. LL Cool J – “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”
  9. Heavy D & The Boyz – “Now That We Found Love”
  10. Queen Latifah – “U.N.I.T.Y.”
  11. Eric B. & Rakim – “Paid in Full”
  12. Sade – “Smooth Operator”
  13. Moby – “Porcelain”
  14. Stevie B – “Spring Love”
  15. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam – “I Wonder If I Take You Home”
  16. The Gypsy Kings – “Bamboleo”
  17. Little Louie Vega – “Beautiful People”
  18. The Soul II Soul – “Keep On Movin'”
  19. Earth, Wind & Fire – “Reasons”
  20. Al Green – “Let’s Stay Together”

This article was written with assistance from ChatGPT


Written by: Anthony Foster

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