Children's book honors Milwaukee homicide victims killed in 1984

Turning tragedy into a touching tribute, a Milwaukee native has authored a children's book honoring his slain relatives; he hopes it inspires children and adults alike.

It's the story of a little girl who put others before herself.

"It's a story of kindness," said Mike Brown, author of "Little Netta's Gift." "It's an absolute labor of love."

With each carefully crafted and colorful page, Brown is sharing his cousin's gift, bringing little Jeannetta Robinson's spirit to storytime.

Little Netta's Gift

"One of my reasons for being on this Earth is to spread her message," said Brown. 

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Little Netta was just 9 years old when she and her 25-year-old mom, Cheryl Robinson, were heinously murdered in Milwaukee.

"Tragedy struck our family," said Charles Walton, Cheryl's brother and Little Netta's uncle. 

In April 1984, Walton lost his sister and niece.

"Cheryl was a wonderful sister," said Walton. "Little Netta was just the sweetest thing."

Jeannetta and Cheryl Robinson

Walton's son, Brown, was only 4 years old at the time, but is now bringing his cousin's kind heart to life through "Little Netta's Gift." The book highlights the true story of Jeannetta's sixth birthday on Dec. 27, 1980 when she gave her toys to children who attended her party after finding out some of them hadn't gotten a gift for Christmas.

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"I want people to realize they have power to make a difference in the world," said Brown.

Little Netta's Gift

Brown, who currently lives in South Bend, Indiana, is making a difference in Milwaukee, raising money and donating a portion of profits from book sales to the "Lil' Jeannetta Robinson Gifts of Love" program, ensuring that 1,000 Milwaukee children have gifts this Christmas.

"It means the world to me," said Brown. 

Brown's family has deep roots in Milwaukee. His grandmother and Little Netta's namesake, Jeannetta Simpson-Robinson, was a longtime advocate against violence and founded CYD. She died in 2008.

Brown's children's book is available for pre-order through his website, SOULSTIR.

Mike Brown

SOULSTIR is partnering with United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County on the "Lil' Jeannetta Robinson Gifts of Love" program as an expansion of United Way's current Holiday Giving Tree program. Donations to benefit the holiday program are being accepted. A $30 financial contribution will purchase a holiday gift wish for a student attending one of the following Milwaukee Community Schools: Auer Avenue, Browning Elementary, or Zablocki. Each child will also receive a copy of "Little Netta’s Gift."

"Jeannetta's story is such an inspiration, reminding us all how powerful simple acts of kindness can be," said Amy Lindner, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. "We are extremely proud to partner with Mike Brown, his family, and SOULSTIR to ensure that children in our community experience the joy of the holiday season."

In celebration of Jeannetta’s birthday, SOULSTIR will also host a birthday party and book reading event for children from participating schools and their families on December 27, 2021.

The holiday giving program to honor Little Netta is a resurrection of a prior holiday giving event that her grandmother, the late Commissioner Jeannetta Simpson-Robinson, hosted annually from 1985 through 2013.

Little Netta's Gift

Tommy Lamont Bobo, boyfriend of Cheryl Robinson and father of Jeannetta Robinson, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder for their homicides. On May 25, 1985, Bobo was convicted of both charges and received a sentence of two consecutive life terms. Bobo is currently serving his sentence at the Stanley Correctional Institution. He is eligible for parole on May 25, 2022. 

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