Mr Blake was raised in Evanston, a town outside the city of Chicago.
His uncle, Justin, told the Chicago Tribune newspaper that he moved to Kenosha several years ago for a job and for his family.
“It was a safer location. He could work and try to save and build a better life,” said Justin.
His family have a long history of community activism. Mr Blake’s grandfather, also called Jacob, was a pastor at a church in Evanston, and a local leader in the civil rights movement. He was also a prolific campaigner for affordable housing and led his congregation in constructing a housing block in the city.
Justin Blake said Mr Blake continued this tradition of public service and volunteered with Black Urban Recycling – a charity that collects aluminium cans and recycles them to raise money for a community centre in Chicago.
Court records show there was an active arrest warrant against Mr Blake, related to charges of sexual assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct. But it is unclear if police were aware of this at the time of his shooting.