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The March On Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project

Key Terms

16th Street Bridge (Viaduct)

The 16th Street Bridge, also known as the 16th Street Viaduct, links Milwaukee's North Side to the South Side. This bridge was considered the "Mason-Dixon Line" of Milwaukee, separating the city's white and black communities. During the 1960s, blacks resided on the city's North Side while the city's South Side was overwhelmingly occupied by whites. On Monday, August 28, 1967, close to 200 NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council members and supporters marched across the bridge to the South Side's Kosciuszko Park. Upon reaching the South Side, marchers were greeted by a hostile crowd of thousands of white counterprotesters. The violent crowd hurled eggs, rocks, and bottles at Youth Council members. The following night, the Youth Council marched again to the South Side. This time they were confronted by even more hecklers. Some counterdemonstrators held up signs and posters with derogatory messages on them while others continuously pelted hard objects at the young marchers. In 1988, Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist and the Milwaukee Common Council renamed the 16th Street Bridge the James E. Groppi Unity Bridge.

Acronyms of Organizations

CORE
Congress of Racial Equality
MCORE
Milwaukee Chapter of CORE
MPS
Milwaukee Public Schools
MUSIC
Milwaukee United School Integration Committee
NAACP
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
NALC
Negro American Labor Council
SCLC
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
SNCC
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Amos et al. v. Board of School Directors of the City of Milwaukee, 408 F. Supp. 765 (1976)

On June 17, 1965, Milwaukee attorney and state Assemblyman Lloyd Barbee filed a federal lawsuit, Amos et al. v. Board of School Directors of the City of Milwaukee, after a year of high-profile demonstrations by the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) failed to sway the Milwaukee school board and change policies, which resulted in de facto segregation. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 41 black and white students, charged the school board with intentionally maintaining racial segregation in its schools.

The school board never denied that Milwaukee's public schools were segregated, but instead insisted that it was caused by the city's residential housing patterns and not by any actions they had taken. While it is true that Milwaukee's neighborhoods were racially segregated, the use of a neighborhood school policy resulted in a corresponding segregation of the schools. As the African American population in Milwaukee increased, the predominantly black schools became overcrowded. The school board took several steps to alleviate the overcrowding, but all of them resulted in strengthening the segregation in the school system rather than weakening it.

Barbee argued that it was the neighborhood school policy, and all of the school board's actions to maintain it, that created segregation. Barbee supported his arguments with research that he and Marilyn Morheuser had collected with the assistance of a small team of MUSIC volunteers. Much of the research needed to be conducted because the school system kept no racial statistics until 1964, when MUSIC began to insist upon it. Barbee and his team were forced to compile racial data based on class photographs and census information going back to 1950. Additionally, they compiled information on teacher transfers and promotions, and exposed the fact that black teachers were disproportionately assigned to teach in schools with high populations of black students, further segregating the system. Their research proved that the school board's policies, and not simple residential housing patterns, had caused the racial segregation in Milwaukee schools.

On January 19, 1976, Federal Judge John Reynolds ruled, "I have concluded that segregation exists in the Milwaukee public schools and that this segregation was intentionally created and maintained by the defendants." Judge Reynolds ordered that a plan be developed for the school system's desegregation. However, the school board doggedly resisted the creation of a workable plan, and they appealed Reynolds' decision all the way to the Supreme Court. A complicated series of legal obstacles followed the 1976 decision, but in all instances Judge Reynolds' original 1976 findings were reaffirmed. In 1979, an agreement was reached between the two parties, and a consent decree was issued which finally ended the case. LW

Aukofer, Frank

Frank Aukofer was born in 1935. As a young man, he attended Marquette University and graduated with a degree in journalism. After graduation, the Milwaukee Journal hired him as a reporter and assigned him to report on national and local civil rights activity. Aukofer eventually became the primary journalist on the open housing marches of 1967-1968. In 1968, Aukofer's book entitled, City with a Chance, was published. The book chronicled the Milwaukee civil rights movement and was re-issued in 2007. Aukofer retired from journalism in 2000. EM

See also: citations for Frank Aukofer in the bibliography

Barbee, Lloyd A.

Lloyd Augustus Barbee was an attorney, a state legislator, and one of the most prominent leaders of Wisconsin's civil rights movement. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on August 17, 1925, and he joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) when he was just 12 years old. Barbee served in the navy during WWII. In 1949 he graduated from the all-black LeMoyne College with a B.A. in economics. Later that year, Barbee moved to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin Law School, but dropped out after his first year because of the racism he encountered among his peers and professors. He eventually returned to the university, however, and received his law degree in 1956.

Barbee quickly earned a reputation as a man dedicated to human rights. He was elected president of the Madison branch of the NAACP in 1955. In 1958, he completed a study outlining discriminatory housing practices in Madison, and conducted his first civil rights demonstration in support of open housing in 1961 at the Wisconsin State Capitol. That same year, Barbee was elected president of the Wisconsin NAACP. At the urging of national NAACP leaders, Barbee moved to Milwaukee in 1962 to confront the de facto segregation of the city's public schools.

In 1964 Barbee organized and led an alliance of civil rights activists dedicated to ending de facto segregation in Milwaukee called the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC). After a year of high-profile MUSIC demonstrations with no positive changes in school board policy, Barbee decided that the only way to enact change would be through the legal system. On June 17, 1965, Barbee filed a federal lawsuit, Amos et al. v. Board of School Directors of the City of Milwaukee, charging the Milwaukee School Board with unconstitutionally maintaining racial segregation in its schools. Barbee won the case in 1976, but spent the next several years dealing with appeals, new trials, and work to enact a viable plan to desegregate the school system.

In 1964 Barbee was also elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly where he served until 1977. He soon became known among his fellow assemblymen as "the outrageous Mr. Barbee" because of the progressive legislation he advocated. In addition to legislation concerning open housing and fair employment practices, Barbee introduced legislation promoting gay rights, women's rights, prison reform, the legalization of drugs and prostitution, the disarming of police officers, and the taxation of churches. In later years, Barbee continued to work as a Milwaukee lawyer, and remained dedicated in his commitment to promoting human rights and positive social change. He died on December 29, 2002, at the age of 77. LW

See also: citations for Lloyd Barbee in the bibliography

Bell, Daniel (Shooting of)

During the 1950s, relations between Milwaukee's black community and the police department reached a boiling point. In 1958, the police department conducted a huge cover-up in the shooting death of 22-year-old Daniel Bell. Police shot Bell for fleeing from a random police stop for a broken tail light. The reason why Bell ran remains unclear. Many speculate that perhaps he got nervous after seeing police trail his car. Bell was an illiterate Southern migrant, and as a result, could not pass the written portion of a driver's test and therefore did not have a driver's license. After Bell pulled over to the curb, he got out of the car and fled on foot. Two policemen followed behind him on foot. One of the officers got close enough to Bell to grab him, but instead pulled out his gun and shot the young man. The bullet entered Bell's upper back, traveled up through his neck, and entered his head. To make the killing look justified, one officer planted a large knife on Bell and claimed that he had fled the scene with the knife in hand.

Bell's family continued to question the Milwaukee Police Department about the circumstances surrounding his death for the next three decades. In the 1980s, the Bell family sued the City of Milwaukee to recover damages for the conspiracy to cover up the murder. A federal court jury awarded the Bell family 1.7 million dollars. The case received national coverage. EM

Black Power

Around the mid-1960s, the Civil Rights Movement began to shift strategies. Many activists began to question the effectiveness of the two major tenets of the movement: integration and non-violence. Stokely Carmichael, who became the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1966, was one of the first people to use the "Black Power" slogan. In 1966, he and other black leaders began urging African American communities to arm themselves against their white oppressors. In their opinion, it was the only way to ever rid the communities of the terror caused by the Ku Klux Klan, the police, and white supremacy as a whole.

Many people who participated in the Black Power movement gained cultural pride or what some would call "black pride." They began to embrace their African cultural identity by demanding that they no longer be referred to as "Negroes" but instead as "Afro-Americans." Many also started to embrace African culture by wearing African clothing such as Dashikis and styling their hair in afros.

Many black organizations began to embrace Black Power ideology. One particular group was the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, founded in Oakland, California in 1966. The group sought to rid African American neighborhoods of police brutality and oppression. They frequently greeted each other with a black power salute (a closed fist) and the statement "Power to the People." Many activists, like Martin Luther King, Jr., were not comfortable with the Black Power movement because they believed that it alienated black people and the civil rights movement from white allies.

The Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council and its Commando unit were advocates of Black Power. Their idea and definition of "Black Power" however, differed from other civil rights groups of that era. For the Youth Council and Father James Groppi, Black Power advocacy was not reserved exclusively for blacks. In fact, the Youth Council developed a unique kind of black power ideology that suited their local context. Since the Milwaukee movement was integrated, they believed that it was possible for people of other races to support black power because it was not about race, but about having a certain kind of consciousness. EM

Boycotts, Economic

During the open housing campaign of 1967-1968, the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council decided to supplement its open housing marches with economic boycotts. The boycotts targeted the city's local businesses and aimed to decrease revenues so that business operators would push the Common Council to pass an open housing law. In September of 1967, at the recommendation of comedian/civil rights activist Dick Gregory, the Youth Council urged the community to boycott Schlitz Beer. Schlitz Beer was singled out mainly because it was the largest Milwaukee brewery and had the most widespread distribution. The sale and consumption of Schlitz dropped significantly in the black community. Many local bars, taverns, and liquor stores stopped selling the brand of beer altogether.

In November 1967, the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council decided to begin a "Black Christmas" campaign. In this campaign, the Youth Council encouraged the black community and any other open housing supporters to boycott the commercial aspect of the Christmas season. They were not to buy gifts, decorations, or any other Christmas materials from merchants, particularly those located in the downtown area. The Black Christmas campaign was successful, causing local business in the city to drop substantially. Despite the economic boycotts, the Milwaukee Common Council remained obstinate and refused to pass a strong open housing law for Milwaukee for several more months. EM

Boycotts, Marc's Big Boy Restaurant

In 1963, the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council began its first major direct action campaign against Marc's Big Boy Restaurant. The Youth Council had received a complaint from a young man claiming that the restaurant discriminated against black job applicants. In March, the Youth Council and its advisor, John Givens, sent the young man to apply once more for a job at the restaurant. Immediately after him, they sent a white young man to apply for the same position. The white youth was hired on the spot. A supervisor of the restaurant notified the Youth Council that the restaurant did not hire blacks for certain positions. Afterward, the Youth Council proceeded to contact the restaurant's owner, Ben Marcus, by letter to inform him that his employment system was not integrated. Marcus failed to reply to the letter in a timely manner, leading the Youth Council to picket the restaurant. By the third day of picketing, Marcus finally contacted the group, requesting a meeting. At the meeting, Marcus insisted that his restaurant did not have a discriminatory hiring policy and vowed to re-emphasize that to his employees. After the meeting, the young man was hired. EM

Breier, Harold A.

In Milwaukee, Police Chief Harold Breier remained adamantly opposed to the civil rights movement which emerged in the city during the 1960s. After the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council's 1966 Eagles Club protests, in the suburb of Wauwatosa, Breier began a constant surveillance of the group, as well as its advisor, Father James Groppi. The policemen assigned to the watches would often harass Youth Council members and jail them for offenses as minor as littering or jaywalking. During the open housing marches, Breier ordered all police officers assigned to protect the Youth Council to not wear their police badges so that they could not be identified if they were committing acts of police brutality.

Breier remained Milwaukee's chief of police for twenty years. He retired in 1984 at the age of 72. In August 1998, Breier was admitted to a Brookfield, Wisconsin, hospital for a broken hip. A few days later, he suffered congestive heart failure and died on September 9, 1998 at age 87. EM

Bussing, Intact

Beginning in the late 1950s and continuing until 1971, the Milwaukee School Board utilized a practice known as "intact bussing" to deal with overcrowding in Milwaukee's inner-city public schools. The policy called for taking entire classes of students and their teachers from an overcrowded school, and transporting them to a school that had room to accommodate them. Every school day, students and teachers would report to their regular schools in the morning, and then board busses which would take them to the receiving schools where they would remain together as a class instead of being incorporated into the receiving school's classes.

Both black and white students were bussed intact, although the overwhelming majority was black. In some instances the children would eat lunch at their receiving school, in others they would not. Often, students would board busses again at lunchtime to be taken back to their regular schools for lunch. After lunch, they would be bussed back to their receiving school to attend the rest of their afternoon classes. When classes finished for the day, the students would again board busses to be taken back to their regular schools to be dismissed for the day.

In the mid-1960s, the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) began protesting against the policy of intact bussing on the grounds that it was racist and was fostering segregation. Protestors donned signs that read "Stop Bussing for Segregation" and stood in front of busses, physically blocking their departure. Additionally, MUSIC members and volunteers conducted research on the topic and compiled an enormous amount of data illustrating the true nature of the intact bussing policy. In the Milwaukee desegregation lawsuit filed in 1965, attorney Lloyd Barbee utilized this data in proving that the Milwaukee School Board was intentionally maintaining segregation in its schools. LW

Carmichael, Stokely

Stokely Carmichael was one of the foremost black power activists of the 1960s. Carmichael was a member of the southern-based Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Eventually, he succeeded John Lewis in becoming chairman of the organization. During his time as chairman, he became a very popular figure of the movement and helped to coin the term "black power." Although Carmichael had no direct connection with the Milwaukee movement, many local activists admired him and his courage, even though many didn't agree with his ideology regarding the role of whites in the movement. Carmichael later moved to Africa and eventually changed his name to Kwame Ture in honor of Ghanian president Kwame Nkrumah and Guinean prime minister Ahmed Sekou Toure. Carmichael died of cancer in 1998. EM

Churches

At the same time that many churches were maintaining segregated congregations, others were key players in the struggle for civil rights because they inspired people to respond to the nationwide call to arms against social injustices. In 1963 the National Council of Churches, United Presbyterian Church, USA and United Church of Christ sent out a statement of support for direct action and involvement with the African American community, nationwide, to aid in the civil rights struggle. This paved the way for a new kind of religious culture that allowed political mobilization to begin within the church.

In June 1964 the National Council of Churches published the "Commission on Religion and Race" which was a national statement that showed America that the struggle for civil rights had now changed from an African American struggle to a nationwide religious struggle for morality. Before this, however, there were several groups that had begun aiding the African American community in their struggle, including the Catholic Interracial Council and the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity.

One of the key figures in the Milwaukee movement, Father James Groppi, used his church, St. Boniface, to rally the Youth Council for marches and protests. His inspiring sermons gave people the spirit they needed to continue on in their struggle. In many ways, the church helped shape key activists in the Milwaukee civil rights movement. KW

Civil Disturbances (July 30, 1967)

In July 1967, Milwaukee experienced a civil disturbance, or what some have called a riot. Compared to other cities like Detroit, Newark, and Los Angeles, Milwaukee's disturbance was nowhere near as violent or chaotic. In fact, the violence reached its peak and died out in a five-hour period. It began on the night of July 30 at around 9:45 p.m. on Milwaukee's North Third Street. By the early morning of July 31, the disturbance had settled down.

Three people died from gunshot wounds and 100 persons were injured as a result of the disturbance. A number of homes, cars, and businesses along North Third Street were destroyed or severely burned. A total of 1,740 people were arrested. One of the worst tragedies of the disturbance was the shooting death of 18-year-old Clifford McKissick.

Explanations on how and why the disturbance started vary. Some alleged that it started after a traffic accident, and some claimed that it started outside of a nightclub. Nevertheless, by 9:45 p.m. on the night of July 30 windows had been broken out of several business establishments on Third Street. Several small fires also broke out. A few hours later the police department notified Mayor Maier of the disturbance. The Mayor declared a state of emergency and issued a city-wide curfew. Maier called for the National Guard a few hours later.

The mayor and other city officials partially blamed the disturbance on local civil rights activists. Maier's response was an overreaction to the small disturbance that had transpired on July 30. A month later, he would receive an onslaught of criticism for his unwillingness to call in the National Guard during the Youth Council's open housing marches on the city's south side. While marching, Youth Council members encountered an enormous amount of hostility and violence from thousands of white South Siders. Father James Groppi, in fact, called the scene a "white riot" and castigated Maier on his obvious hypocrisy in issuing a mandatory curfew for the July 30 disturbance but only issuing a voluntary curfew for South Siders. EM

Civil Rights Activists

A civil rights activist is someone who is or has been actively involved in the struggle to attain the fair distribution of and access to the rights that all human beings deserve, regardless of race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, age, or gender. Prominent civil rights activists in U. S. history include Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, and John Lewis. Milwaukee civil rights movements also boast many notable activists who gained national attention, including Vel Phillips, Lloyd Barbee, and Father James Groppi. While public memory often focuses attention on these well-known leaders, civil rights movements gain their strength through the participation of activists who have not enjoyed the same level of recognition. Civil rights struggles in Milwaukee benefited from countless activists who provided key support but who are less well known including Marilyn Morheuser, Juanita Adams, Arlene Johnson, Vada Harris, members of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council, the Commandos, and members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) including John Givens and Cecil Brown. EM

Clergy

Catholic and Protestant clergy members played significant roles in the Southern and Northern Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In Milwaukee, several Catholic clergy members were active in the local movement. The first civil rights demonstration that Milwaukee clergy publicly participated in was a picketing demonstration against Alabama Governor George Wallace's presidential campaign visit to Milwaukee. The demonstration was led by Father Matthew Gottschalk, pastor of St. Francis Church.

During his campaign to desegregate Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), Lloyd Barbee teamed up with was a woman named Marilyn Morheuser. Morheuser was a former Catholic nun. In 1963, she left her order so that she could work full-time on civil rights issues. Rev. B. S. Gregg, pastor of St. Matthew Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, also assisted in the campaign by providing financial assistance and allowing Barbee and Morheuser to use his church as the headquarters of their Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) organization.

Other notable clergy members who participated in civil rights demonstrations include Father Eugene Bleidorn and Father James Groppi of St. Boniface Church, Father Matthew Gottschalk of St. Francis Church, Father Earl Goeden of St. Elizabeth Church, Father Simeon Keough of St. Benedict the Moor Church, Father Patrick Flood, Sister Mary Jeannine, Sister Ann Frances, and Father Carl Diederichs. During Milwaukee's civil rights movement, the Catholic church became divided between conservative and liberal Catholics. Some members of the church, such as Archbishop William E. Cousins, supported civil rights action, while others held the belief that clergy should not publicly endorse or participate in social action. This divide was evident during the 1964 MPS boycott. Several Catholic priests had planned to participate in the boycott by allowing their parish rectories to be used as sites of Freedom Schools. Several Archdiocese officials, however, forbade the participation of clergy and the use of Catholic rectories or schools for the use of civil rights activity. EM

Commandos, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council

After encountering hostile and violent counterdemonstrators during the Eagles Club protests, the NAACP Youth Council realized that police protection was insufficient. In October of 1966, the Youth Council unveiled its exclusively-male security unit known as the Commandos. The Commandos went into dangerous situations to protect marchers as well as Father James Groppi. The unit had a very militant image. They were usually clad in attire that included a black beret, black boots, and a sweatshirt displaying the word "Commando" on the front or back. The Commandos were nonviolent but they maintained that they would use force if necessary in order to defend themselves and marchers if necessary.

Commandos usually ranged in age from 18 to 30. Initially, the Commando unit consisted of members of the Youth Council's direct action committee. Leaders within the unit included Dwight Benning, Duane Toliver, and Prentice McKinney. Eventually, many Commandos parted ways with the Youth Council to create a seperate organization that had a social service approach to civil rights activism. The group, which became known as the Commandos Project I, was one of the most effective social service agencies in the city of Milwaukee from the late 1960s until the early 1980s. EM

Common Council (Milwaukee)

The Common Council is the legislative branch for the city government of Milwaukee, and the elected officials who serve on it are called aldermen and alderwomen. During the 1960s, the Milwaukee Common Council came under fire from civil rights activists for its failure to adopt an effective open housing ordinance that would prohibit racial discrimination among landlords and real estate agents.

By 1967, fair housing had become a national issue and activists across the country marched to protest housing discrimination. That summer, the Milwaukee National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council picketed the homes of Aldermen Martin Schreiber, James Maslowski, Robert J. Dwyer, and Eugene Woehrer after the Common Council repeatedly voted down Alderwoman Vel Phillips's proposals for an open housing ordinance for Milwaukee. The Youth Council then marched for 200 consecutive nights demanding passage of an open housing law. Six days after the Youth Council ended their marches, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. A week later, the U. S. Congress passed a national fair housing law. With the passage of a national law and the election of seven new Common Council members, Milwaukee finally passed an open housing ordinance on April 30, 1968.

On April 30, 2008, members of the Milwaukee Common Council commemorated the 40th anniversary of the passage of Phillips's open housing law. Vel Phillips and Margaret Rozga were two of the activists in attendance. LW

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded in 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. CORE was a leading civil rights organization during the Civil Rights Movement. In fact, the interracial organization provided the Civil Rights Movement with its ideology of nonviolence and its direct action tactics to confront the racial inequalities which existed in the United States. In the early 1960s, CORE became well-known for its "Freedom Rides" throughout the South. The Freedom Riders were an interracial group of activists who boarded Trailway and Greyhound buses and rode them throughout the South. Along the way, the Riders integrated interstate terminal facilities such as waiting rooms, restrooms, and lunch counters. White Freedom Riders would use the terminal facilities labeled "For colored only" and the black Freedom Riders would use the facilities labeled "For whites only." These rides were met with resistance and extreme violence, particularly as riders traveled deeper into the South. The Freedom Rides gained such an enormous amount of national and international attention that, in 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission outlawed segregation in interstate travel. A Milwaukee chapter of CORE (MCORE) was founded in 1963. MCORE briefly participated in Lloyd Barbee's Milwaukee Public School desegregation campaign, but focused particularly on attacking the inequalities that black Milwaukeeans faced in employment and housing. EM

Congress of Racial Equality, Milwaukee Chapter (MCORE)

Milwaukee's chapter of CORE (MCORE) was founded in 1963 by Cecil L. Brown, Jr. and John Givens, Jr. Brown was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1954 and his successful run for the assembly partially inspired Vel Phillips to run for the Common Council in 1956. The Milwaukee Chapter of CORE sponsored Milwaukee's first civil rights sit-in demonstrations. The demonstrations were held in July 1963, shortly after the chapter was formed.

Chapter members picketed and staged sit-ins at the Milwaukee courthouse, demanding the removal of the president of a sausage manufacturing company, Fred E. Lins, from the Social Development Commission. Lins had made insensitive and derogatory racial remarks about African Americans that CORE members found offensive. Lins stated in an interview that a way should be found to keep the ignorant poor, particularly blacks, out of Milwaukee. He also stated that most blacks have "an I.Q. of nothing." When the demonstrations against Lins began, only 18 people participated. After a few more days, the picketing gained more attention and over 100 people joined the protest. Brown and other CORE members trained people in nonviolent techniques. The sit-ins lasted for close to a month.

The Milwaukee chapter became known primarily for its demonstrations. In 1964 MCORE joined the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC), which was an umbrella organization created to attack segregation in Milwaukee Public Schools. It staged sit-ins at the public school administration building over school segregation. Shortly thereafter, MCORE picketed over billboard advertising that the chapter considered to be bigoted. In 1963 and 1964, chapter representatives were successful in getting local department stores to hire more African Americans. In 1966, the chapter began its "Operation Breadbasket" project in which the chapter contacted more than 200 employers in the Milwaukee area trying to get 1,500 jobs for impoverished people of color. In 1967 the chapter was dissolved due to disorderliness. EM

Counterdemonstrators

Counterdemonstrators are people who come to protest against demonstrations carried out by activists. They usually do this because they do not agree with the demands of activists and they do not want to see certain practices or conditions change. Counterdemonstrators can be violent or nonviolent. Hostile counterdemonstrators were common during a number of demonstrations at the time of Milwaukee's civil rights movement. During the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council's 1966 Eagles Club protests, the scene became a full spectacle with thousands of hostile whites shouting obscenities and pelting hard objects at Youth Council members. Members of the Wisconsin Realm of the United Klans of America also showed up dressed in Klan attire. By the twelfth night, the scene had become so tense that the National Guard was brought in.

The Youth Council also encountered hostile and violent counterdemonstrators during its 1967 open housing campaign. On Monday, August 28, 1967, the first day of open housing marches, close to 200 Youth Council members and supporters marched to the South Side's Kosciuszko Park. Upon reaching the South Side, marchers were greeted by a hostile crowd of thousands. The crowd hurled eggs, rocks, and bottles at Youth Council members. Crazy Jim's car lot was a site where many counterdemonstrators gathered during the first two days of open housing marches. Many times, the behavior of counterdemonstrators became so violent and hostile that police would had to subdue or arrest them.

A group of South Siders called the Milwaukee Citizens' Civic Voice, led by a Catholic priest named Father Russel Witon, resisted the open housing movement by organizing closed housing marches. Members of the group would often march on the city's North Side holding signs calling for white power and segregated housing. The American Nazi Party also held white power marches and rallies throughout the city. EM

Courts

Courts have been used by civil rights activists to challenge existing discriminatory laws, practices, and customs. Court cases have been filed to challenge racial segregation in areas such as education, voting, employment, housing, and public transportation. Some of these cases have been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which determines whether or not laws are constitutional. In the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), a unanimous Court declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. Brown signaled the beginning of the end of de jure segregation (or segregation that is mandated through laws) in the South, and marked the birth of the modern Civil Rights Movement. In 1955, a second Brown decision (Brown II) ordered the desegregation of public schools in the South "with all deliberate speed." Despite this ruling, most of the schools in the South remained segregated for nearly two decades after the decision as a result of the massive resistance by the states to comply with the Supreme Court's ruling.

Because the Brown decisions only addressed de jure segregation in the South, many urban schools in the North remained segregated during this period as a result of de facto segregation (or segregation through practice or custom). Lloyd Barbee, a Milwaukee attorney and head of the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC), sought to extend the reach of the Brown decisions to end segregation whether de jure or de facto. On June 17, 1965, Barbee filed a federal lawsuit, Amos et al. v. Board of School Directors of the City of Milwaukee, 408 F. Supp. 765 (1976), charging the Milwaukee school board with unconstitutionally maintaining segregation in its schools. On January 19, 1976, federal Judge John Reynolds decided that "segregation exists in the Milwaukee public schools, and that this segregation was intentionally created and maintained by the defendants." The school board appealed the decision all the way to the Supreme Court, but Judge Reynolds' original findings were upheld and Milwaukee began to move forward with a plan to desegregate its schools. LW

Eagles Club

Early in 1966, the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council, along with its advisor Father James Groppi, picketed the Fraternal Order of Eagles Club, a nationwide, exclusively-white social club in Milwaukee. A large number of Eagles Club members consisted of prominent city officials, particularly judges. The Youth Council regarded the restrictive membership policy against people of color as racist, but the fact that so many judges belonged to the club was even more upsetting. They could not fathom how judges could belong to a segregated club and still fairly judge cases involving people of color. The Youth Council demanded that those judges who were members of the club either resign from their posts or resign from the club. For several weeks between the months of February and April of 1966, Youth Council members did nightly picketing outside the Eagles Club Ballroom located on Wisconsin Avenue. Despite their persistent efforts, the Youth Council garnered very little attention from local news programs or daily press.

In August of 1966, the Youth Council re-strategized and decided to target individual judges, particularly those who tended to be more liberal. This time instead of picketing outside of the Eagles Club they brought their protest to the homes of targeted judges. The first judge picketed was Circuit Judge Robert C. Cannon. The Youth Council, which consisted of mostly poor and working-class African American youth, gained an enormous amount of attention when they brought their protest to Cannon's upper-middle class suburban neighborhood. The Youth Council protested daily, and by the twelfth night of protesting, the scene had become a full spectacle with thousands of hostile white counterdemonstrators shouting obscenities and pelting hard objects at Youth Council members. The scene became so tense that the mayor eventually called in the National Guard. After picketing Cannon's home, the Youth Council also briefly picketed the East Side home of County Judge Christ T. Seraphim and the South Side home of Congressman Clement J. Zablocki. Despite attempts to negotiate a peace, the national president of the Eagles Club organization refused to meet with NAACP officials. In June of 1988, Thomas Davis, a black man, was sworn in as president of the Eagles Club. Months later, in August, the club filed for bankruptcy, citing $600,000 in debts. That same month, the club's facility located on Wisconsin Avenue closed. Afterwards, Davis formed the new Greater Milwaukee Eagles Club. EM

Farmer, James L., Jr.

James Leonard Farmer, Jr. was born on January 12, 1920 in Marshall, Texas. Education was held in high regard in Farmer's family. In 1918, his father James L. Farmer, Sr. earned a P.h.D from Boston University, becoming one of only twenty-five African Americans who held Ph.D.'s at the time. After completing high school at the age of fourteen, Farmer enrolled in Wiley College where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1938. Farmer was a Methodist pacifist and deeply influenced by Gandhi's principles of nonviolent protest. In 1942, he and a group of college students founded the Committee of Racial Equality in Chicago, Illinois. The organization was later renamed as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Farmer served as the national director of the organization from 1961 until 1966. CORE was a leading civil rights organization during the Civil Rights Movement. The interracial organization was known for its use of nonviolent, direct action tactics in confronting racial inequalities. In the early 1960s, CORE also became recognized for its "Freedom Rides" throughout the South.

In October 1963, Farmer came to Milwaukee to address two civil rights meetings and attend a Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) and Milwaukee chapter of CORE (MCORE)- sponsored school desegregation rally. While in Milwaukee, Farmer commented that the pattern of housing segregation in Milwaukee was one of the worst he had ever seen in the country. He also stated that "the actual exclusion of Negroes from other areas makes Milwaukee one of the most segregated cities in the country."

In 1969, Farmer accepted the post of Assistant Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare from President Richard Nixon. In 1985, his memoir, Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement, was published. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he taught history at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. In 1998, President Bill Clinton officially recognized James Farmer's contributions to the Civil Rights Movement by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In July 1999, Farmer died of complications from diabetes. EM

Freedom Day (May 18, 1964)

On May 18, 1964, the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) sponsored its first Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) boycott. The purpose of the boycott was to dramatize the inadequacies in education received by MPS' black students and also to bring attention to the segregation that existed within the school system. Boycott leaders urged parents with children in elementary, middle, and high school to keep them out of MPS in sympathy with the boycott. Approximately 11,000 black and white students were absent from school during the boycott. MUSIC boycott organizers also referred to the day as "Freedom Day" in Milwaukee.

Organizers purposely held the May 18 boycott on the day after the tenth anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision which declared segregated schools in the United States unconstitutional. Several North Side churches and community centers opened their doors for the 1964 "Freedom Schools," which served as alternative schools that children could attend during the boycott. Freedom Schools had special lesson plans tailored toward "Freedom Day." The curriculum involved emphasis on four particular concepts: freedom, brotherhood, justice, and equality. Freedom School curriculum also included black history, essay writing, and open discussions. An estimated 8,500 students attended Freedom Schools during the boycott. EM

See also: Freedom Schools

Freedom House

In August of 1966, the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council established its official headquarters known as Freedom House. It was located at 2026 North Fifth Street, which happened to be in one of Milwaukee's most impoverished neighborhoods. Freedom House's location brought the Youth Council in closer contact with the poor and working-class black community, particularly neighborhood youth who could be recruited as members. The house also served as a home for some Youth Council members who had nowhere else to go and also a second home for Youth Council advisor Father James Groppi when he was away from St. Boniface Parish.

The house served as a place where the Youth Council and its Commando unit would often hold meetings and strategize. Eventually, the Freedom House location on North Fifth Street was condemned and razed. As the Youth Council's interest in housing issues grew, the group rented a small cottage at 1316 North Fifteenth Street in the area of the Kilbourntown III Urban Renewal project area that was dislocating many African American families. On the second day of open housing marches, just after the Youth Council had returned from the South Side, the Freedom House caught fire. Those inside escaped to safety out the back door. Many Youth Council members maintained that hostile police officers caused the fire by shooting tear gas canisters into the house. Although the house was burned beyond repair, the next day, the Youth Council held a rally in the front yard. EM

Freedom Schools

Freedom Schools served as alternative schools that children could attend during school boycotts. Teachers, clergy, parents, and others ran Freedom Schools, which offered children a curriculum that emphasized African American history and activism. Milwaukee held Freedom Schools during school boycotts on three different dates in 1964 and 1965. During those years, Freedom Schools were also held in other parts of the country, most famously in Mississippi.

In 1964, the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) began a series of school boycotts in Milwaukee to protest the racial segregation that existed in public schools. Public schools in the central city, in particular, had predominantly black enrollments. In 1964, Lloyd Barbee, the head of MUSIC, issued a deadline to the school board, warning that if the school board failed to begin making efforts to integrate schools and end intact bussing, MUSIC would begin to engage in direct action protests, which would include vigils, sit-ins, chain-ins, and boycotts. The first MUSIC-sponsored school boycott took place on May 18, 1964. The following year another boycott was held, and in 1966, the final MUSIC-sponsored boycott was held at North Division High School. During each boycott, Freedom Schools offered an alternative curriculum for children. Freedom School attendance steadily declined across all three boycotts.

Several North Side churches and community centers opened their doors for Freedom Schools. Large, brightly-lettered signs on the doors of local churches identified the buildings as Freedom Schools. Inside, teachers referred to the schools by special names, such as the "JFK School," the "Martin Luther King School," the "Marian Anderson School," the "James Baldwin School," and the "Crispus Attucks School." All of the usual academic subjects were taught but four concepts--freedom, brotherhood, justice, and equality--were particularly highlighted. Freedom School curriculum also included black history, essay writing, and discussions about freedom.

Many local members of the community supported and participated in the functioning of Freedom Schools. The mothers of boycotting students served as crossing guards, chauffeurs, cooks, and teachers. Many of the volunteer instructors were public school teachers or instructors or students from Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee. Local businessmen, retired teachers, clergymen, doctors, lawyers, and other professional people also taught Freedom School classes. Alderwoman Vel Philips and her husband, attorney Dale Phillips, were also among those teaching Freedom School classes. EM

Gregory, Dick

Dick Gregory is an African American comedian, social activist, social critic, and writer. For many years he has used his performance comedy to address and convey his political message on civil rights. In the 1960s, Gregory became more involved in the struggle for civil rights. Although not a native of the area, Gregory came to Milwaukee to bring attention to city's civil rights struggles. In 1964 and 1965, he supported the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee's school desegregation campaign and eventually joined the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council's open housing campaign. During the open housing campaign, Gregory participated and led many marches. He also suggested some of the Youth Council's economic boycotts, such as the "Black Christmas" campaign and the Schlitz Beer boycott. EM

Groppi, James E.

In 1963, Catholic priest James E. Groppi, who grew up in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood, was transferred to St. Boniface Parish, a predominantly working-class black parish located on Milwaukee's North Side. While working at St. Boniface, Groppi became deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement that was sweeping the nation. In 1965, after returning from the March on Selma, Alabama, he became a member of Lloyd Barbee's organization, the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC), eventually rising to the position of second vice-chairman. In 1965, Groppi became the adviser to the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council. The Youth Council's first campaign with Groppi as its adviser targeted the local Order of Eagles Club in 1966. The following year, Groppi and the Youth Council joined forces with Alderwoman Vel Phillips to rally for a strong open housing law in Milwaukee. His final campaign with the Youth Council was the 1968 fight against employment discrimination at the AllenBradley Company.

It was while working at a predominantly black youth center on Milwaukee's North Side that Father Groppi was able to witness firsthand the poverty and racism that plagued Milwaukee's black community. Soon after, he began traveling to the South to participate in voter registration drives and civil rights marches. Upon returning to Milwaukee, he joined local civil rights organizations. Between the years of 1965 and 1968, Father Groppi and the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council initiated several major civil rights campaigns in the city of Milwaukee, garnering much publicity and controversy. After resigning from the Youth Council in the fall of 1968, Father Groppi continued his activism. In 1969, he organized the Welfare Mother's March to Madison, Wisconsin to protest cuts in the state's welfare budget. In 1972, he was arrested while participating in a blue collar workers protest and an anti-Vietnam War protest. He later enrolled in the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C, but withdrew from the school after two years. Towards the end of Groppi's life he lived quite modestly. He eventually left the priesthood, married former Youth Council member Margaret Rozga in 1976, and together they had three children. He died in 1985 at the age of fifty-four. A few years later, in 1988, Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist and the Milwaukee Common Council renamed the city's 16th Street bridge as the James E. Groppi Unity Bridge. EM

Jackson, Jesse

Civil rights activist and Baptist minister Jesse Louis Jackson was born on October 8, 1941 in Greenville, South Carolina. As a youth, Jackson participated in the student sit-ins to desegregate public facilities in the 1960s, while also remaining a dedicated student leader and star athlete. Following his graduation from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, he enrolled in the Chicago Theological Seminary. Jackson, however, found himself being increasingly drawn into politics and the emerging civil rights movement. He subsequently left the seminary in 1966 and began working for Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) on Operation Breadbasket, a project which utilized selective buying boycotts as a means to pressure white businesses into hiring more blacks for jobs. King appointed Jackson national director of the project in August 1967. Jackson remained with the project until December 1971 when he and other prominent black leaders founded Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), a social justice organization that pressured American businesses to hire more blacks and to develop stronger business ties with the black community. During his early years of activism, Jackson concentrated much of his civil rights work in the city of Chicago. In 1966, he helped spearhead the Chicago Freedom Movement to press for integrated schools and open housing. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Jackson continued his civil rights work but also decided to venture into international affairs and politics. He made two unsuccessful runs for the Democratic nomination for U. S. president in 1984 and 1988. Although during both elections Jackson's political following in Wisconsin was quite small, he nevertheless had several delegates in Milwaukee and did a considerable amount of public speaking and campaigning in the city during his runs for the presidency. EM

King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is undoubtedly the most recognized activist of the Civil Rights Movement. He is particularly remembered for his dedication to a Gandhian nonviolent philosophy. King was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. After finishing his doctorate at Boston University, he returned to the South to begin working as a Baptist preacher. He subsequently became active in the movement for civil rights that was emerging in the South. King helped to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, in which black residents of Montgomery, Alabama stopped riding the city busses for 382 days. A few years later, in 1957, he co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a direct action, nonviolent, church-based organization that was dedicated to attacking segregation and supporting black voter registration in the South. In 1963, King helped organize the March on Washington which was the largest civil rights demonstration in history with nearly 250,000 people in attendance. At the march, King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The following year he was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the American Civil Rights Movement. Over the course of his years as an activist, King led numerous marches throughout the South, participated in lunch counter sit-ins, and launched major anti-segregation and voter registration campaigns in such states as Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Towards the late 1960s, King broadened his agenda and began focusing on the Vietnam War, as well as the poverty that existed in the urban North and rural communities throughout the country. In July 1966, King moved his campaign north to Chicago where he attempted to attack public school and housing segregation. While there, he led open housing marches through the all-white suburb of Cicero where residents attacked and hysterically yelled venomous racial obscenities at marchers. During the march, King was struck in the head with a rock and barely missed a knife thrown in his direction. The following year, the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council sponsored similar open housing marches on the predominantly white South Side of Milwaukee. On September 4, 1967, King acknowledged the efforts of the Milwaukee's civil rights activists and sent a telegram to Father James Groppi at St. Boniface church in which he wrote "What you and your courageous associates are doing in Milwaukee will certainly serve as a kind of massive nonviolence that we need in this turbulent period." King visited Milwaukee in 1965 and lectured to a sold-out audience in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee union ballroom on the necessity of fair employment legislation.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 39. While violent riots erupted in other cities across the country, the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council and its Commando unit persuaded Milwaukeeans to honor Dr. King's nonviolent legacy by demonstrating peacefully. On Monday, April 8, 1968, fifteen thousand people of all races gathered in unity and marched through Milwaukee's inner core and downtown area. The march was preceded by a memorial service for King held at St. Boniface church. The march was the largest civil rights demonstration in Milwaukee's history. For the most part, it was a silent march, except for the occasional singing of the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome." In 1985, the Milwaukee Common Council approved renaming part of North Third Street as "Martin Luther King Drive." The following year marked the first year in which the third Monday in January was celebrated as a national holiday known as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. EM

Knowles, Warren P.

Warren P. Knowles was the governor of Wisconsin from 1965 to 1971. During the 1960s civil rights protests in Milwaukee, Governor Knowles activated the Wisconsin National Guard on two occasions. The first occurred in August 1966 during the Milwaukee National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council's Eagles Club demonstrations in Wauwatosa. Governor Knowles deployed troops to Wauwatosa after Mayor Ervin A. Meier requested the state's assistance in protecting the protestors from angry counterdemonstrators.

The next year, Governor Knowles again called up the National Guard at the request of Milwaukee Mayor Henry Maier, who had a direct "hot line" to the governor. This request was made in response to the July 30, 1967 civil disturbance on Milwaukee's North Side. Thousands of soldiers were sent to Milwaukee to assist the police department with patrolling the streets and enforcing the citywide curfew. LW

Kosciuszko Park

Kosciuszko Park is a public park located on Milwaukee's South Side. During the late nineteenth century, the park was named Lincoln Avenue Park, and in 1900 it was renamed after Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish military leader in the U. S. War of Independence. Kosciuszko joined George Washington's army and eventually moved up in rank and became a brigadier general. In 1967, the park became an important geographic site for local civil rights struggles. In that year the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council began a series of open housing marches and selected the park as the end point for many of the marches. The march route from the North Side to the South Side was symbolic because the South Side did not welcome minorities as neighbors or visitors.

On Monday, August 28, 1967, close to 200 Youth Council members and supporters marched to the South Side's Kosciuszko Park. Upon reaching the South Side, marchers were greeted by a hostile crowd of thousands. The violent mob hurled eggs, rocks, and bottles at Youth Council members. The heckling was so bad that the Youth Council was not able to have its rally in the park as they had planned. The following night, the Youth Council again marched to the South Side determined to have its rally. This time they were confronted by even more hecklers. These counterdemonstrators held up signs and posters with derogatory messages on them, while others continuously pelted hard objects, as well as urine and feces, onto Youth Council members. Once across the 16th Street bridge, the large crowd of counterdemonstrators followed the Youth Council to Kosciuszko Park where the rally was to be held. The rally was very brief and for the most part, consisted of Father James Groppi commending the marchers for their bravery and dedication. During the rally, a firecracker was thrown into the rally area and injured three marchers. At that point, the rally ended and the marchers headed back across the bridge to the North Side. EM

Ku Klux Klan

Six Confederate veterans founded the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee in December 1865. Originally, the Klan existed as a fraternal organization for southern white males, but quickly became a major instrument used to overthrow the Republican governments of the South during Reconstruction. The Klan became notorious for maintaining white supremacy through the use of violence and intimidation. During the 1920s, the Klan expanded into a national movement. After World War I, the organization put greater emphasis on violence and was no longer solely anti-black, but also anti- foreigner, anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic.

A Milwaukee chapter of the Ku Klux Klan was organized in 1920. Early Milwaukee Klan meetings were held in a hall over a local theater, and by 1924 the local chapter had 4,400 members and a clubhouse at 2424 Cedar Street (now West Kilbourn Avenue). The cities of Madison, Racine, Kenosha, and Oshkosh also had Ku Klux Klan chapters. Throughout the 1920s, the Wisconsin chapters of the Ku Klux Klan were a major problem for both blacks and whites. Cross burnings were a common occurrence across the state for several years and many state and municipal officials gained office because of Klan backing. During the 1930s, Klan membership in Wisconsin declined drastically.

On August 9, 1966, the two-story brick building that housed the headquarters of the Milwaukee chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was bombed. Just after 2:00 a.m. a homemade bomb was set off in a milk chute at the back door. No one was in the office at the time and there were no injuries. The bomb managed to rip a door off and shatter all the windows on the first floor. Several members of Wisconsin and Illinois Ku Klux Klan chapters were later arrested for the bombing and charged with damaging property with explosives. The bombing would prove to be one of the major catalysts in the eventual development of the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council's aggressive security unit known as the Commandos. EM

Legislation

Legislation is the creation of laws. Beginning in 1877, states created laws that forced African Americans to use separate public accommodations from white people. These laws, commonly referred to as "Jim Crow" laws, covered all aspects of life and were prevalent in the South and border states until the mid-1960s. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that laws requiring black and white children to attend separate public schools were unconstitutional. Following the Brown decision, other Jim Crow laws such as those covering public transportation were also challenged and found to be unconstitutional. In addition to challenging existing laws which limited their freedoms, civil rights activists also fought for the passage of new laws which would guarantee equal rights for all people. Two such examples are the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which abolished legal racial segregation, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited barriers to voter registration such as poll taxes and literacy tests.

In 1960s Milwaukee, Alderwoman Vel Phillips attempted to create a law that would forbid racial discrimination in housing. Discriminatory practices by landlords and real estate agents resulted in black Milwaukeeans being virtually unable to find housing outside of a small area in Milwaukee's North Side known as the "inner-core." Between 1962 and 1967, Phillips introduced her open housing ordinance four times. Each time the measure was voted down by the rest of the common council, with Phillips' vote being the only one cast in favor of passage. By 1967, open housing was a national issue and activists across the country were marching in support of a national fair housing law. In Milwaukee, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council supported Phillips's legislative efforts by marching for 200 consecutive nights to protest the absence of an open housing law. One week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act. Senator Walter Mondale of Minnesota specifically referenced events in Milwaukee while addressing Congress in support of the act. On April 30, 1968, the Milwaukee Common Council, with seven newly-elected aldermen, finally passed an open housing law which was even stronger than the national law. LW

MacDowell School Construction, Protest

In December 1965, the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) began daily demonstrations at the MacDowell Elementary school site located on West Highland Boulevard. MacDowell Elementary School replaced the old and dilapidated Eighteenth Street School and was built to alleviate the overcrowding at four other local elementary schools. Due to the de facto segregation that existed in the city, MUSIC members objected to building a school at the site because it would serve as another segregated school. Demonstrators utilized a variety of protest tactics to halt construction of the school. Several vigils were held at the site, and many demonstrators chained themselves to gates or construction equipment in order to prevent workmen from building the school. Father James Groppi, who eventually became second vice-chairman of MUSIC, was very active in the MacDowell school protests. He would often drive protestors to the site and transport food to demonstrators who had chained themselves to the school grounds. Despite agitation from demonstrators, the school board continued with the building of the school, which opened in January 1967. After the school's opening, MUSIC members disseminated flyers describing the school as "a symbol of planned, unsafe, overcrowded, undemocratic, segregated education." EM

Maier, Henry W.

Henry W. Maier was mayor of Milwaukee from 1960 until 1988. Although he was born in Dayton, Ohio, a great deal of his schooling happened in Wisconsin. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin--Madison and a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee. During his term as mayor, Maier was not a popular figure in Milwaukee's black community. He was known for having a very tense and strained relationship with local blacks. Many felt that he largely ignored the needs of the city's impoverished black residents and kept his allegiance to those who had put him in office. Maier was also not an advocate of the Civil Rights Movement.

During the open housing marches, Maier and Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council advisor Father James Groppi were constantly at odds. On Wednesday, August 30, 1967, two days after the Youth Council's first open housing marches to the city's south side, Maier issued a 30-day proclamation banning all marches and demonstrations in an effort to thwart the Youth Council's open housing marches. Despite the 200 days of demonstrating for an open housing bill, Maier still had not been moved to rally for the passing of the bill. After the assassination of famed civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., however, President Lyndon B. Johnson instructed Congress to pass a strong federal open housing law. Afterwards, Maier finally urged the Milwaukee Common Council to do the same. Maier died in 1994 at the age of 76. EM

Marches

Marches are a form of public demonstration that activists commonly use to express displeasure with or support of certain conditions or practices. One of the most well known marches from the Civil Rights Movement was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, held in the nation's capital on August 28, 1963. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the Washington Monument and marched to the Lincoln Memorial to listen to a variety of speakers, including Martin Luther King, Jr. who delivered his historic "I have a Dream" speech. Local civil rights organizations in Milwaukee also used marches along with other forms of protest to call attention to local patterns of racial segregation and prejudice. The most notable marches in Milwaukee were the open housing marches (also known as fair housing marches) of 1967-1968. These marches were sponsored and organized by the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council and Alderwoman Vel Phillips. The NAACP Youth Council, its Commando unit, along with other supporters, marched 200 consecutive days in support of the passing of an open housing bill. Other local civil rights organizations that coordinated marches as a means of public protest included the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC). EM

McKissick, Clifford (Shooting of)

During Milwaukee's 1967 civil disturbance (sometimes referred to as a "riot"), 18-year-old African American college student Clifford McKissick was shot in the neck and killed by a police officer. A graduate of Rufus King High School, McKissick attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. His death was one of the greatest tragedies of the disturbance. The police claimed that McKissick and three other youths had tried to set fire to a building with Molotov cocktails, and that it was while fleeing from the scene that police shot McKissick. McKissick's family and several neighbors claimed, however, that he had been sitting on the front porch when all of a sudden everyone heard gunshots. Everyone, including McKissick, ran. The death of McKissick enraged Milwaukee's black community which became all the more livid when his death was ruled as a justifiable homicide. For some, it was a harsh reminder of the murder of Daniel Bell that had taken place close to a decade earlier. Father James Groppi spoke at McKissick's funeral. EM

Meetings

Meetings usually served as a space where civil rights activists or organizations could gather to discuss issues or strategize for protests. During the Civil Rights Movement, various activists would meet and pitch different ideas and suggestions as well as openly comment and voice their recommendations. It was imperative that they have meetings often so that they could stay united and current with the movement's agenda. During the open housing marches, the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council held pre- and post-march meetings and rallies in the basement of St. Boniface Church. The Commandos would also have meetings amongst themselves where they would map out the routes of marches and discuss the protection of marchers. Although the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council was given free range in strategizing, its advisor, Father Groppi, would often assert his opinion and help make decisions. EM

Milwaukee Police Department

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Milwaukee Police Department was accused of brutality and oppression directed at the black community. In 1958, the local black community criticized the Milwaukee Police Department after a cover-up in the death of 22-year-old Daniel Bell. Police Chief Harold Breier remained adamantly opposed to civil rights activities that went on in the city. After the Youth Council's 1966 Eagles Club protests in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, Breier began a constant surveillance of the group, as well as its advisor, Father James Groppi. The policemen assigned to the watches would often harass Youth Council members and jail them for offenses as minor as littering or jaywalking. During marches, many police officers often heckled Youth Council and Commando members.

During the open housing marches, Breier ordered all police officers assigned to protect the Youth Council not to wear their police badges so that they could not be identified if they were committing acts of police brutality. On the second day of the open housing marches, just after the Youth Council had returned from the South Side, the Freedom House caught fire. Fortunately, the young members inside were able to escape to safety out the back door. Many Youth Council members maintained that the fire was started when hostile police officers shot a tear gas canister into the house. When the fire department arrived, the police prevented them from coming near the house until it was burned beyond repair.

Tensions with police once again rose during Milwaukee's 1967 civil disturbance in which 18-year-old Clifford McKissick was shot and killed by police. EM

Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC)

On March 1, 1964, Milwaukee attorney and civil rights leader Lloyd Barbee formed a coalition of over a dozen civil rights, religious, labor, social, and political groups under an umbrella organization known as the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC). Some of the more prominent members of MUSIC included Marilyn Morheuser, Alderwoman Vel Phillips,Calvin Sherard, Rev. B.S. Gregg, and Father James Groppi.

MUSIC's primary goal was to eliminate segregation in Milwaukee's public schools. MUSIC attempted to accomplish this goal by conducting a series of high-profile demonstrations designed to bring the issue of de facto segregation to the public's attention, and pressure the Milwaukee school board to alter their policies. MUSIC focused on the intact bussing of students, and the construction of schools in locations that would result in racial segregation. MUSIC's protest tactics ranged from sit-ins and sing-ins to physically blocking school buses and construction equipment with their own bodies. Additionally, MUSIC organized massive public school boycotts and established Freedom Schools in their place.

After a year of demonstrations by MUSIC failed to enact change in the school board's policies, Barbee filed a federal lawsuit, Amos et al. v. Board of School Directors of the City of Milwaukee, charging the school board with maintaining racial segregation in its schools. As Barbee and Morheuser began to prepare for the court case, militant direct action by MUSIC began to taper off. In December 1965, the group conducted their last major demonstration when they protested the construction of MacDowell Elementary School. LW

Morheuser, Marilyn

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Marilyn Morheuser became interested in civil rights during her time as a college student in the mid-1940s. She graduated from the Loretto Order's College in Webster Groves, Missouri in 1946 and subsequently entered into her order as a Catholic nun. Morheuser taught at various schools around the country before relocating to Milwaukee for a teaching position. During this time, she began writing for a Black-run weekly newspaper, The Milwaukee Star, and became active in the local civil rights movement emerging in the city. Soon after arriving in Milwaukee, Morheuser joined the Wisconsin State chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where she met a young attorney by the name of Lloyd Barbee. In 1963, Morheuser decided to leave her fifteen-year order as a Catholic nun to begin working full-time on civil rights issues. The same year, Morheuser began assisting Barbee in his mission to end segregation in Milwaukee's Public Schools.

Morheuser was a founding member of the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC), which served as a school integration umbrella organization. She helped to organize the three school boycotts which MUSIC sponsored in 1964, 1965, and 1966, as well as the Freedom Schools, which students attended during the boycotts. Eventually, the fight to end desegregation in Milwaukee Public Schools became a long and arduous court battle. Morheuser did much of the meticulous and tedious research needed to corroborate the segregation that was prevalent within the Milwaukee Public School system.

Several years later, Morheuser decided to enter into the law profession so that she could more effectively fight school desegregation through the courts. She eventually moved to Newark, New Jersey where she enrolled in the Rutgers-Newark School of Law and graduated with her J.D. in 1973. She became executive director of a Newark based public interest organization called the Education Law Center. Subsequently, she led a long, 13-year court battle, known as the Abbott v. Burke case, to make New Jersey's school financing system more equitable for the state's poorest districts. Morheuser received many awards for her work and steadfast dedication to seeking equality in education for disadvantaged children of color. She died in 1995 at the age of 71. EM

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Milwaukee Chapter

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded in 1909. A decade later, in 1919, the Milwaukee Chapter of the NAACP was officially organized. By the end of that year, local membership had increased substantially. Throughout the twentieth century, many prominent members of the black community, such as attorneys Dale and Vel Phillips, held membership within the branch. During the early 1940s, the chapter was inactive but was eventually revived in 1947. That same year, NAACP member Ardie Clark Halyard went to work developing and organizing a Youth Council for the branch.

During the 1960s, the branch's Youth Council came to the forefront of Milwaukee's civil rights struggles. Elders of the local branch, however, did not always agree with the youth chapter's methods, particularly the confrontational direct action campaigns that the Youth Council and its advisor, Father James Groppi, initiated. EM

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council

During the 1960s, the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council, along with its charismatic adviser, Father James E. Groppi, came to the forefront of Milwaukee's civil rights movement. Its first direct action campaign, against employment discrimination at a local restaurant, began in 1963. The Youth Council also protested the exclusively white Fraternal Order of Eagles Club in 1966. That same year, the Youth Council established its Freedom House headquarters and its security unit known as the Commandos. The following year, the Youth Council joined forces with Alderwoman Vel Phillps to rally for a strong open housing law in the city of Milwaukee. The campaign would prove to be the Youth Council's most prominent campaign and would thrust the group into the national spotlight. The Youth Council marched 200 consecutive nights for an open housing law.

The Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council was founded in 1947 by Ardie Clark Halyard. Throughout the late 1940s and into the 1950s, the Youth Council was rather conservative in nature. The turning point came in 1963 when a young black teen came to the Youth Council lamenting a local restaurant's discriminatory hiring policy toward people of color. For the most part, the Youth Council consisted of poor and working-class black youth, but there were also a number of white members. Between the years of 1966 and 1968, the Youth Council gained national attention for its confrontational direct action campaigns. The group received many awards for its work and steadfast dedication to seeking equality for African Americans in Milwaukee. The Youth Council was presented with the Youth Council of the Year Award at the annual convention of the national NAACP in 1967 and again in 1968. Father Groppi was also named Advisor of the Year both years as well. EM.

News Agencies

During Milwaukee's 1960s civil rights movement, several local publications reported on relevant events often from vastly different perspectives. The selection of photographs, the author's choice of words, and decisions regarding which stories were newsworthy, all served to shape the way that civil rights protests were portrayed.

Below is a list of the key publications:

Countdown
A newsletter published and distributed by the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC).
Echo
An African-American newspaper published between 1966 and 1986.
Milwaukee Courier
Beginning in 1964, the Courier became Milwaukee's second African-American newspaper in print at the time. The Courier is currently still in print.
Milwaukee Defender
An African-American newspaper published between 1957 and 1958.
Milwaukee Journal
A white-owned, daily evening newspaper. Reporter Frank Aukofer covered the Civil Rights Movement for the Journal, and in 1968 he published a first-hand account, City With a Chance: A Case History of Civil Rights Revolution, documenting his perspective of Milwaukee's civil rights movement.
Milwaukee Sentinel
A white-owned, daily morning newspaper. In 1995, the Sentinel and the Milwaukee Journal merged and became the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Milwaukee Star
An African-American weekly newspaper published between 1962 and 2005. After 1963, the Star became known as "the civil rights paper." MUSIC member Marilyn Morheuser served as managing editor, and was important in catapulting the publication into prominence during Milwaukee's civil rights movement. The Milwaukee Star merged with the Milwaukee Courier in 2005. The Courier continued to publish the paper as The Star until 2009.
Soul City Times
An African-American newspaper published between 1968 and 1971. In 1971, the Soul City Times merged with the Milwaukee Star. LW

North Division High School, Boycott (March 28, 1966)

In 1966, members of the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) planned a one-day student boycott at Milwaukee's North Division High School. The school was located on West Center Street in a predominantly black neighborhood and had 99.6% black enrollment. MUSIC wanted to boycott the school because of the school's racial imbalance. MUSIC members felt that the school was not given the same resources that predominately white schools enjoyed. MUSIC had previously sponsored two city-wide school boycotts, one in May 1964, and a three-day boycott in October 1965. On the day of the North Division boycott, about 492 students were absent from school. North Division students helped plan the boycott and also selected the date on which it would take place. MUSIC set up three Freedom Schools, which served as alternative schools that boycotting students could attend. The Freedom Schools were held at St. Matthew's Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, located on North 9th Street; St. George's Episcopal Church, located on West Center Street; and the Badger Elks Club, located on North Third Street. The North Division High School boycott was the final boycott sponsored by MUSIC. EM

See also: Freedom Schools

North Side

During the 1960s, blacks resided on Milwaukee's North Side (also referred to as the "inner core") while the city's South Side was overwhelmingly occupied by whites of Polish and German descent. Restrictive covenants, redlining, blockbusting, and steering created and maintained racial segregation that severely limited housing opportunities for African Americans. Houses within the inner core offered blacks inferior housing stock as many of the homes were extremely old, dilapidated, and overpriced. Because housing discrimination kept blacks confined to such a small part of Milwaukee, the population density of the inner core was twice that of the city's average. A 1960 study described the inner core as a small area bounded by Juneau Avenue on the South, Twentieth Street on the West, Holton Street on the East, and Keefe Avenue on the North. EM

Open Housing

Alderwoman Vel Phillips began the fight for open housing in 1962 when she introduced the Phillips Housing Ordinance--a bill that outlawed housing discrimination--to her peers in the Milwaukee Common Council. Milwaukee already had a fair housing law, but it was very weak and it did not cover all housing within the city. The council, however, defeated the bill 18-1 with Phillips' vote being the only one in favor. After three more failed attempts at getting the bill passed, the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council offered their help to Phillips. In the spring of 1967, the Youth Council began picketing the homes of some of the aldermen who had voted against the fair housing bill.

In the summer of 1967, the Youth Council planned a major event that would dramatize the open housing issue in Milwaukee. In August, the group announced a march across the 16th Street Viaduct from Milwaukee's North Side to Kosciuszko Park on the city's South Side. The crossing of the viaduct symbolized the division between the predominately African American North Side of the city and the exclusively white South Side. In fact, the 16th Street Bridge was considered the "Mason- Dixon Line" of Milwaukee. A joke at the time claimed that the bridge was the longest in the world because it separated "Africa from Poland."

On Monday, August 28, 1967, close to 200 Youth Council members and supporters marched to the South Side. Upon reaching the South Side of the bridge, marchers were greeted by a hostile crowd of thousands. The crowd screamed and jeered at the marchers while hurling eggs, bricks, rocks, and bottles. The following night the Youth Council marched again to the South Side. This time they were confronted by even more hecklers. These hecklers held up signs and posters with racist and derogatory messages on them while others continuously pelted the marchers with objects. Despite the hostility they encountered, the Youth Council would not be deterred from its mission. Youth Council members and their supporters ended up marching for 200 consecutive nights between August 1967 and March 1968 to get an open housing law enacted. The group also supplemented its open housing marches with other campaigns aimed at hurting the city fiscally. At the recommendation of black comedian/civil rights activist Dick Gregory, they launched a boycott of Schlitz beer and also a "Black Christmas" campaign.

Shortly after the assassination of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the federal government passed an open housing law. A few days thereafter, on April 30, 1968, the Milwaukee Common Council finally moved to pass a city-wide open housing ordinance stronger than the federal law. EM

Open Housing Ordinance, Introduction in Milwaukee

Alderwoman Vel Phillips introduced her first fair housing bill to the Milwaukee Common Council in 1962. It took Phillips and her husband Dale Phillips approximately seven months to research and write up the housing discrimination ordinance. The ordinance proposed that the Milwaukee Community Relations Commission (a body of citizen members) be given unprecedented, broad investigative powers in alleged housing discrimination cases. If a particular case was unable to be settled, the city attorney would be asked to initiate court action. Phillips' ordinance also proposed a $250 fine or a 30-day jail term on conviction. The ordinance applied to anyone renting, leasing, or selling a unit of housing, property, or lot available for constructing a house. The Milwaukee Common Council rejected Phillips' first bill and would continue to reject her fair housing bill on three more occasions. In 1967, Phillips partnered with the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council to rally for the passage of a strong city-wide open housing bill. The open housing campaign gained national attention and put the spotlight on the housing issue in Milwaukee. EM

Phillips, Vel

Vel Phillips is one of the most prominent and accomplished figures of Milwaukee's African American community. Phillips was born in Milwaukee on February 18, 1924. She graduated from Milwaukee's North Division High School and then from Howard University in Washington D.C. She returned to Wisconsin to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School and received her law degree in 1951. In 1956, at the age of 32, she became the first African American and first woman elected to Milwaukee's Common Council. In 1962, she introduced the Phillips Housing Ordinance--a bill that outlawed housing discrimination--to her peers in the Common Council. The bill, however, was defeated 18-1 with only her vote in favor. Between the years of 1963 and 1967, Phillips would reintroduce the fair housing bill three additional times, only to have it defeated each time. In 1967, she and the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council joined forces in an effort to rally for the passing of an open housing bill. In an effort to dramatize the open housing issue, the Youth Council staged marches across the 16th Street bridge to the South Side of the city.

Although she favored legal action over direct action, Phillips made it a priority to march along with the Youth Council on the second day of the open housing marches. She was also arrested a few days later for allegedly violating Mayor Maier's 30-day ban on marches and demonstrations. The Youth Council once again teamed up with Vel Phillips for its 1968 campaign against the Allen-Bradley Company's discriminatory hiring policy. Although she did not march in the campaign, Phillips did assist the Youth Council in negotiating with the company's officials and representatives. A few years later, in 1971, Governor Patrick Lucey appointed Phillips to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, making her Wisconsin's first African American judge. In 1978, she once again made history when she became the first African American to be elected as secretary of state. Phillips is still a committed activist and resides in Milwaukee. EM

See also: citations for Vel Phillips in the bibliography

Pitts, Orville

During the 1950s, Milwaukeean Orville Pitts was a successful amateur and professional boxer. He eventually became an attorney, and in 1968 became the second African American and the first African American man elected to the Milwaukee Common Council. In 1969, Pitts applied for membership into the Milwaukee Order of Eagles Club which the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council had picketed in 1966 for its "Caucasian only" membership policy. The club repeatedly rejected Pitts' application on numerous occasions with no explanation for the rejection. Subsequently, Pitts filed a lawsuit against the club for denying him membership because of his race. Pitts also claimed in his suit that state tax exemptions granted to the Eagles Club and other organizations that practice racial discrimination violate the United States Constitution. In 1971, the federal court ruled in Pitts' favor, stating that since the "whites only" restriction remained in the Eagles Club membership clause, the state tax exemptions that the organization received were, in fact, illegal. EM

Poor People's Campaign

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), began planning a new march on Washington, intended to rally Congress members to pass an economic bill of rights for the nation's poor. The campaign was not solely directed towards African Americans. King and his staff planned to bring thousands of the nation's most disadvantaged citizens together in an interracial alliance, including Appalachian whites, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Native Americans. King had moved from focusing solely on racial issues, to considering issues of class. He began calling for the redistribution of economic and political power. King, in fact, visited the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee in 1965 to speak on the necessity of fair employment legislation (see news film footage). Unfortunately, while planning the Poor People's campaign, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. In the aftermath of his slaying, rioting occured in more than 100 cities. The SCLC decided to follow through with the campaign that began on April 16, 1968. Several Milwaukee Youth Council Commandos attended the march. EM

Protests

Protests encompass a variety of tactics that activists use to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with certain conditions and practices. During the Civil Rights Movement, in an effort to bring attention to racial injustices, many activists staged protests in different forms, including marches, boycotts, sit-ins, and picketing. In Milwaukee, civil rights organizations such as the Milwaukee chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Lloyd Barbee's Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC), and the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council employed all of these forms of protest to heighten public awareness. EM

Rozga, Margaret (Peggy)

Margaret Rozga was born and raised in Milwaukee's South Side. She joined the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council during the 1960s. During her time studying at Alverno College, she became involved in the emerging civil rights movement, and in the summer of 1965, she joined a group of Milwaukee volunteers to work on a SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) summer voter registration project in rural Alabama. Rozga participated in the protests against the Eagles Club in 1966 and also the open housing marches of 1967-1968. In 1976, she married former Youth Council advisor, James Groppi, and they had three children.

In 2007, Rozga led efforts to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the open housing marches. She has written non-fiction, poetry, and a play about Milwaukee civil rights. Currently, she is a Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. EM

See also: citations for her works in the bibliography

St. Boniface Parish

During the 1960s, St. Boniface Catholic Church was a predominantly black parish located on North Eleventh Street within Milwaukee's North Side, or what was then known as the "inner core." In 1963, Father James Groppi was transferred from St. Veronica's Parish, located on the South Side, to St. Boniface where he would serve as assistant pastor. After Father Groppi became advisor to the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council, the parish became the unofficial headquarters of the group. During the open housing campaign, supporters from all over the country would gather at St. Boniface. It was a place where marchers and supporters could find food, transportation, lodging, and medical attention. Pre- and post-march meetings and rallies were oftentimes held at the church as well. In 1970, Father Groppi left St. Boniface and was replaced by Father Kenneth Stewart, the first black parish pastor in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. In 1975, all St. Boniface buildings- the church, school, and parish- were demolished to make way for the building of a new and improved North Division High School. The parish subsequently moved from North Eleventh Street to a remodeled storefront at the corner of North Teutonia Avenue and West Center Street. A large farewell Mass was held at the church shortly before it was razed. EM

School Desegregation

Desegregation refers to the corrective process of ending racial segregation, and it was typically initiated by court order. During the 1950s and 1960s, segregated institutions in the South fiercely resisted court orders to desegregate. Many African American students, for example, were forced to endure hostile white mobs and resistance from state officials when they began to attend classes at previously all-white schools. Some students even required escorts from federal troops and U.S. Marshalls to safely attend classes.

Although Milwaukee school desegregation activists did not face similar mobs, they encountered active opposition to their protests. In 1963, when Wisconsin National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president and attorney Lloyd Barbee demanded that the state officially acknowledge that Milwaukee schools were segregated, the school board majority refused to accept responsibility for its role in causing segregation, and denied their obligation to correct it. Additionally, many white families began to either flee to the suburbs as the African American population in Milwaukee increased, or utilize a school transfer policy to remove their children from schools with large or growing African American student populations. The failure of government to act led Barbee to organize the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC). After a year of direct-action protests by MUSIC failed to sway the school board in their stance, Barbee filed a federal lawsuit, Amos et al. v. Board of School Directors of the City of Milwaukee, charging the school board with unconstitutionally maintaining segregation in its schools.

In 1976, federal Judge John Reynolds ruled that the school board was guilty of creating and maintaining segregation, and he issued a court order to desegregate Milwaukee's public schools. The district received national recognition for creating several city-wide specialty schools (also known as magnet schools), designed to attract black and white students from different neighborhoods. At the same time, a voluntary metropolitan desegregation plan known as the Chapter 220 Program permitted city-suburban student transfers. In the late 1970s, a second round of protest erupted as some civil rights activists questioned whether the implementation of school desegregation placed a disproportionate burden on the African American community, particularly at North Division High School. LW

Schools

Schools have functioned as primary sites for civil rights protest and action throughout the United States. Prior to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision declaring legalized segregation in public schools unconstitutional, laws existed in the South and border states requiring black and white students to attend separate schools. No such laws existed during this period in the North, yet many school systems in the urban North were segregated nonetheless. The existence of segregated public schools in the North was caused primarily by "neighborhood school" policies which strictly assigned students to schools within their own neighborhoods. Because so many neighborhoods in the North were racially segregated, neighborhood school policies resulted in a corresponding racial segregation of the schools. Additionally, school boards adopted other measures which served to strengthen the segregation in the school system rather than weaken it. In Milwaukee, these measures included the practice of intact busing and the selection of school district boundaries in locations which would result in racially segregated districts. Racial segregation caused by discriminatory practices, instead of by law, is called de facto segregation.

The Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) was formed in 1964 by Lloyd Barbee to confront the de facto segregation in Milwaukee's public schools. MUSIC demanded changes in the school board's neighborhood school policy. MUSIC was especially interested in ending the intact busing of students, and the construction of schools in locations that would result in their becoming racially segregated. In addition, students themselves became involved in the struggle by participating in public school boycotts, attending Freedom Schools, and protesting the lack of African American representation in their curriculum by conducting textbook turn-ins. LW

Segregation

Segregation refers to the social and geographical separation or isolation of people based on perceived group affiliations, which can include race, ethnic origin, religion, and class. Beginning in 1877, states began to create laws that forced African Americans to use separate public facilities and accommodations from white people. These laws, commonly referred to as "Jim Crow" laws, covered all aspects of life and were prevalent in the South and border states until the mid-1960s. The purpose of the laws was to convey and maintain a sense of inferiority among non-whites, and a sense of superiority among whites. This type of segregation is called "de jure" segregation, or segregation by law.

Another type of segregation was mainly prevalent in the urban North. Largely as a result of discriminatory housing practices among Northern landlords and real estate agents, many neighborhoods in the North were racially segregated. During the 1960s, Milwaukee was one of the most racially segregated cities in the nation. Many Northern school boards also adopted "neighborhood school" policies during this period. Because neighborhood schools assigned students to the schools closest to their homes, the schools reflected the racial or ethnic make-up of the neighborhoods. Additionally, Northern school boards typically enacted other measures that served to strengthen the segregation in their school systems rather than weaken it. In Milwaukee, these included the practice of intact bussing and the selection of school district boundaries in locations that would result in racially segregated districts. Racial segregation caused by discriminatory practices, instead of by law, is called "de facto" segregation. LW

Sherard, Calvin

Milwaukee civil rights activist and leader Calvin Sherard was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to a Baptist minister. Following high school graduation, Sherard moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked at the American Motors Company and became involved in the labor movement. In the mid-1950s, Sherard moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he found work as a metal finisher at the local American Motors plant.

In 1958, the Milwaukee police department conducted a cover-up in the shooting death of twenty-two year old Daniel Bell. Bell had been shot by police for fleeing from a random police stop for a broken tail light. To make the killing look justified, one officer planted a large knife on Bell and claimed that he had fled the scene with the knife in hand. The Bell incident sparked outrage among Milwaukee's black citizens, but the established black leaders did not share the community's contempt for the police department's brutality. Dismayed by the inactivity of local leaders and disgruntled with the conservativeness of local black institutions, Calvin Sherard, and several of his co-workers, created an inquiry group called Citizens to Protest the Case of Daniel Bell.

In 1962, Sherard's group became a local chapter of the Negro American Labor Council (NALC), which was affiliated with A. Phillip Randolph's national organization formed to fight discrimination in labor unions. That same year, the Milwaukee NALC, along with twelve high school students, picketed three North Side grocery stores to protest the small percentage of blacks employed, despite the high proportion of black customers. The high school students were also picketing the store to demonstrate the need for summer jobs for local black youth. Sherard's group picketed for two weeks, demanding that blacks be hired as store clerks, butchers, and management trainees. In 1963, Sherard's NALC began a "selective buying" campaign against inner core grocery stores due to their continual discrimination toward hiring blacks. The organization encouraged the community to avoid shopping at stores where they could not work. Sherard and the Milwaukee chapter of the NALC helped set the stage for a new generation of civil rights organizations to be more active and vocal about issues affecting Milwaukee's black community, most notably the Milwaukee chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council. EM

South Side

During the 1960s, Milwaukees South Side was inhabited primarily by whites, particularly those of Polish and German descent. Most South Side residents were working or middle-class homeowners. At that time, the South Side had a reputation for not being welcoming to people of color. In fact, the 16th Street Viaduct, which linked the city's North Side to its South Side, was considered the "Mason- Dixon Line" of Milwaukee. The borders of the mostly Polish South Side were never clearly defined, but were generally considered to be Mitchell Avenue, Forest Home Avenue, and Cleveland Avenue between 6th and 27th Streets. By mid-century, many white South Siders began to move into neighborhoods further South and West.

Milwaukee's blacks resided on the North Side, also at that time known as the "inner core." On the first and second day of the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council's open housing marches, thousands of South Siders gathered on the southern edge of the bridge to heckle, harass, and throw objects at marchers. Also, a group of South Siders, known as the Milwaukee Citizens' Civic Voice, led by Catholic priest Father Russel Witon, resisted the fight for open housing by organizing closed housing marches. Despite the overwhelming racial intolerance of many South Siders, there were still others who supported and participated in the local civil rights struggle. Some civil rights participants, including Margaret (Peggy) Rozga and Father James Groppi, grew up on the South Side of the city. EM

Story, Harold W.

Harold Story was a Milwaukee attorney who became involved in the issue of school desegregation. In 1963, under the leadership of Lloyd Barbee, the Wisconsin National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) publically demanded that Milwaukee public schools be officially declared segregated by the state superintendent. In response, the Milwaukee school board created the Special Committee on Equality of Educational Opportunity to hold public hearings on the matter. The committee later became known as the Story Committee after the school board president assigned a white corporate lawyer, Harold Story, to be its chairman.

Story attempted to divide the black community by painting Barbee as a radical who didn't represent the views of the majority of black Milwaukeeans. To support his strategy, Story called upon some of Milwaukee's more moderate and established black leaders to speak at the hearings. However, Story's strategy backfired during a January 1964 hearing when he attempted to sit Barbee at a table separate from other civil rights representatives. Barbee refused to be isolated from the other representatives, and defiantly stormed out of the meeting. The event was widely covered in the news, and the black community largely united in support of Barbee's cause.

Although he attempted to divide it, Harold Story succeeded in assisting Lloyd Barbee unite the black community and form a coalition that would in following months be named the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC). LW

Welfare Mother's March

In 1969, conservative Wisconsin state legislators spearheaded efforts to cut the state welfare budget and reduce benefits to the state's poor. Milwaukee would have been particularly affected by the cuts because it contained a disproportionate number of Wisconsin's poverty stricken, many of whom were people of color. Job discrimination kept African Americans out of work and welfare served as many people's only means of taking care of themselves and their families. In 1969, a group of Milwaukee welfare recipients and social workers, angered by the proposed state budget welfare cuts, began building a grassroots campaign and decided to organize a protest march. The group approached Father James Groppi, the former advisor to the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council, and asked him to lead a welfare mother's march to the state capitol to protest the cuts in the state budget. The participation of Groppi and the Commandos helped to place a spotlight on the welfare issue in Wisconsin.

The march began Sunday, September 21 at St. Boniface Catholic Church on North Eleventh Street. Groppi led marchers on a 90 mile, week-long march to Madison, Wisconsin. Many area residents and local churches provided marchers with meals and lodging along the way. Marchers were also prepared to camp outdoors if necessary. Once in Madison, the marchers held a rally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where Father Groppi spoke to a large crowd of students about the welfare issue. Afterwards, nearly 3,000 students joined the march and filled the streets as they marched along Madison's State Street and entered into the capitol building. When the group found the State Assembly chamber locked, about a dozen youths ripped the door off its hinges. Thousands of demonstrators took over the Assembly chambers for eleven straight hours, preventing the legislature from convening on time for a special session called to consider restoring budget cuts that decreased individual public assistance payments. Occupation of the chamber ended near midnight on September 29 after Wisconsin Governor Warren P. Knowles mobilized National Guardsmen to the scene. For several days, hundreds of local law officials and National Guardsmen patrolled the capitol building and guarded its entrances. Soon after, Father Groppi was arrested for disorderly conduct as a result of the capitol building takeover. He was then cited for contempt of the legislature by the Assembly. Groppi was released from a Dane County jail after ten days, but a judge found that he had violated his probation on an earlier conviction and he was sent to the Milwaukee County House of Correction for another term. The takeover of the Assembly chamber brought negative attention to the cause, and as a result, fervor around the welfare issue in Wisconsin dwindled. EM

Youth

Young people played significant roles in the civil rights movements of the 1960s. In Milwaukee, youth took part in several protests and instigated protests themselves. In 1964, the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) carried out its first school boycott in which thousands of students participated by attending alternative Freedom Schools. Students took part in a second boycott the following year. Many local youth also joined the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council. Eventually, the Youth Council moved to the forefront of Milwaukee's civil rights movement into the mid-1960s when it began campaigns against housing and employment discrimination.

With Father James Groppi's encouragement, St. Boniface student Vada Harris became active in MUSIC and, while still in her early teens, taught black history to a Freedom School class in 1964 during the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) boycott. When Harris completed her schooling at St. Boniface, she insisted on attending Riverside High School, which at that time was a predominately white school located on Milwaukee's East Side. While attending Riverside, Harris and her fellow classmates campaigned for the inclusion of black history classes. Harris organized and led a "textbook turn-in" protest in which she and 35 other students walked out of their classrooms and proceeded directly to the principal's office where they turned in their history books. Afterwards, Harris read a letter stating the students' grievances, claiming "far more serious are the distortions in our history books. Here again, even the existence of the Negro-American is ignored in both the text and illustration." The letter continued lamenting the students' disgust towards receiving a biased education. Unfortunately, school officials disregarded the students' education demands. EM

X, Malcolm

On May 19, 1925, Malcolm X was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and given the name Malcolm Little. His father was a prominent member of Marcus Garvey's Black Nationalist-oriented Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). For that reason, when Malcolm was a child, his family endured an enormous amount of harassment from white supremacist groups. In December 1926, Malcolm's family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his younger brother Reginald was born. The family lived in a small house on West Galena Street on Milwaukee's North Side. Years later, the area was cleared for freeway construction. Malcolm's family lived in Milwaukee until 1929 and then relocated to Lansing, Michigan.

In 1946, Malcolm was convicted of burglary and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. It was while incarcerated that he joined the Nation of Islam, a Black Muslim organization headed by Elijah Muhammad. Soon after his release, Malcolm dropped his last name "Little," which he considered his slave name, and replaced it with an "X." Malcolm quickly moved up the ranks within the Nation of Islam, but slowly became disheartened by the many contradictions and hypocrisies that he observed within the organization. Malcolm's relationship with the Nation of Islam became very strained and by early 1964 he had parted ways with the organization to spearhead his Islamic group, Muslim Mosque, Inc., and his human rights organization called the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU).

Initially, Malcolm was not an advocate of the nonviolent philosophy used by many civil rights organizations. He strongly believed that African Americans had the right to defend themselves against white violence and terrorism. Malcolm often lashed out at civil rights organizations as well as their leadership. In his opinion, the problem of inadequate civil rights for African Americans was created by the very government that civil rights advocates were appealing to for freedom. Eventually, Malcolm's views on nonviolence changed and he made peace with many civil rights leaders whom he had castigated, most notably Martin Luther King Jr. He moved towards placing his focus on building strong coalitions with other civil rights activists and organizations. During Milwaukee's civil rights movement, many members of the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council were more inspired by Malcolm X than by Martin Luther King, Jr. They admired Malcolm's boldness and belief in self-defense.

Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, during a speaking engagement at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York City. He was 39 years old at the time of his death. EM

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