Freedom Walkers for Milwaukee | Program |


you You know people look at you, and you knew each see the hate in their eye, but it didn’t matter. It’s like we’re coming We’ve got to set aside this issue Of color and start dealing with the real issue Which is economics? We’re in this thing for the long struggle And you know it takes filling up the jails we’re going to fill up the jails But we’re not going to stop until this issue is resolved What we call the modern civil rights movement took place during the middle part of the 20th century? nearly a hundred years after the Civil war Many protests took place in the south but not all of them the battleground included urban areas as well Black Americans who had migrated from the south searching for better opportunities in the north found barriers to their advancement there as well? protests and demonstrations were held in support of better jobs better schools open housing and the Right to vote as people of color saw their piece of the American dream The thing about that dream. It was just a planning you know being an American in the way of the state-defined How little we were part of this great society the black man? Wasn’t equal to the white man, and the 60s you know the white man had freedom to live anyplace he wanted to as a man but The negro couldn’t the system itself was Segregated and that it was not go get any better unless it was some sort of direct action Milwaukee had its share of protests most notably the marches for open housing which attracted national attention But there were other equally important issues as well Some were social some were economic on This program who will share a few of the stories from some of the many people who participated a March? from Selma to Montgomery With her and really didn’t understand I felt more alive and more Passionate and more hopeful than I felt in a long long time or ever before really For me the issue would have been being forced into the armed services To fight for this country while this country was treating us as second-class citizens I Became convinced that not only did the situation have to change, but that I want it to be part of making that change Milwaukee’s industrial complex during world war two afforded job opportunities [for] blacks Most of the jobs were menial but they were better than picking cotton That helped spark a population boom at the end of the war [the] City’s black population numbered about 15,000 people and was segregated in the City’s inner core by nineteen seventy that population would exceed 100,000 they came [up] here and They had gotten word through letters newspaper recruitment the Chicago [was] one of the key hubs in which African Americans came to first and then later made their way into Milwaukee hearing about Opportunities that existed but job opportunities did not guaranteed that African Americans would be fairly considered for jobs this young man African-American student at Uwm applied for a busboy job Landmarks big boy on East North Avenue later far will [and] prospect on that corner. It’s a different business no but and he said well, [I] went there and they told me the job was filled and Three days later I see the sign in the window again, and so I went back again any time it was real And with that we said okay? You go there and play again So he went applied and he told him the job was filled and we had a a white test They’re just waiting so as soon as he reported to us that he was told her job was filled we sent the white tester and He told him he could start and [that] afternoon and That evening We had a parade of my chest or fountain ax marks big butt Givens would lead the N-Double-A-Cp youTh Council and picketing three inner city restaurants in 1963 At the time the N-Double-A-Cp was Milwaukee’s prominent civil rights organization and the Youth Council was very active They were successful Which marks big boys? but it really does grown a lot of the older in the way she peers and So we had a lot of internal Hassles going on they wanted to write letters and talk to people and To file lawsuits and all that stuff and [we] said no the direct actor will get it gibbons would leave the N-Double-A-Cp and join the Newly formed Milwaukee chapter of Core the congress of Racial equality and continue to protest job discrimination What that young man started was? [an] introduction to the Racial discrimination and employment in the entire city of Milwaukee everywhere We started to then look at the companies in this community and you had no Minorities in management any place. I think it’s important to qualify the difference in these march our artists were tended to be social yes But they had an economic aspect of it because if you don’t get a job you know you can talk all you want to talk? you’re not into the economic side of the Society which is dealings it totally important in America and the beautiful thing about the community is once we demonstrated that we Were about action they would come up? This you know we’d started demonstration with the core of the people we had and then The next day people will be coming from everywhere, Mrs.. Lily Pittman and her family moved to Milwaukee from Mississippi. I Started out with core the time core and it arrives and miss simpson and Sees a while I would you know by the Margin on [the] school board? That was something else you guys are walking in the cold this man comes storming out of the Door go back to Africa knowing me I Said I wouldn’t have been d if you had no brought me here I Mississippi After he met with me. I ain’t bothering him Mrs.. Pitman’s children were also involved in the protest especially her daughter Liddy. I Started and I think probably middle school proud of 7 8th grade With General Neta Robinson and my simpson we called her Because they started this Community thing Community Center and we were one of the first kids they had [and] they Were just like they motivated us They they made us believe things you know like you could do certain things like we bought into like yeah We could do this and [so] Here we were in 1954 the United States Supreme Court unanimously Ruled that separate but equal public schools were inherently unequal and were to be desegregated with all deliberate speed a decade later attorney and State representative [Lloyd] Barbie Former nun, Maryland More Hauser and members of music the Milwaukee United School integration Committee launched an all-out offensive against the Milwaukee public school systems effort to desegregate MPs was bussing black students to white schools, but still segregating and isolating the black students bringing African-American kids from the Black community to the white Schools and to simply isolating them in one given spot not allowing them to Intermix and inter communicate with the European students throughout the school system. That is just as bad as [a] Ratio or separate but equal doctrine that we have been practicing for some 60 years the school desegregation fight had different elements there were bus Boycotts and Boycotts of new School construction Mr.. Barbie first of all how long you keep this protest up. We’re intending to keep it up until we have Convinced the school board and the citizens of the city that constructed for segregation must end There were demonstrations at school board meetings, and short boycotts of the school’s themselves the freedom schools were a boycott that existed to it was like three four of them and the kids actually boycotted the school’s their schools and They went to the churches that housed the same marks was one [saint] benefit was one There are a lot of small churches that actually had freedom schools and them freedom schools It was like a couple days people just left out of school you and and it’s whose weren’t [docked] on you really left school We were protesters our protests, and we went to these freedom school down at St. Boniface woman father gruffy and weirder getting history lessons history, we had not gotten in school. We were learning our history I help Marilyn organize the school Boycott [okay], I taught at the school boycott. We had good cooperation from some of the African-American ministers I taught black history of course those freedom schools was something to really really remember because They certainly provided somewhat of an alternative to the public school I ride down here the end of august the first day of school 1965 and There was a school Boycott Which know what I told me because I was absolutely new just noodle like I haven’t gotten off the bus the night before Although she was new to the city she supported the protest many people here who are black? Didn’t know they were segregated. It was so different in many instances where they’d come from that this was like dying and going to heaven Teachers were kind of frightened because there were very few black teachers, and so they did not want the head stuck out I was a fool I got in didn’t know I could have gotten I mean have tenure I didn’t even know I could have been gone Along with the protest Barbie and the N-Double-A-Cp filed a lawsuit charging that the school system practiced and allowed segregation At the time the N-Double-A-Cp was also involved in the open housing conflict and had little money to support the school desegregation suit When we looked around town we couldn’t find any money with all the nice people Who wanted to give money had just about giving it and we’re now looking to us for something much more creative She sought financial assistance from her union the national education association through a special fund it had established It was through the Dashain fun after I went to convention and found out. What was going on cause had no idea that the [duchesne] fine offered these services to teachers who were in segregated situations and But they had never been solicited by a northern teacher claiming that there was juro Segregation in a large Northern city with funding secured they continued Gathering evidence and protesting in 1976 Federal Judge John Reynolds ruled that [Milwaukee] [public] [schools] were indeed segregated The school Board appealed to the United States Supreme Court which ordered a new trial Three years later the case was settled and the school board agreed to implement a five-year plan to desegregate the schools The fight for civil rights was also being fueled by the growing war in Vietnam my brother comes back through Europe in the Air force Decide so much to buy my mom a house near he’s going back to England Took her up on capitol drive. There’s a house out there with a for sale sign in front of it and he goes up in uniformity knocks on the door when [he] choirs about the house no lady tells him very bluntly we Don’t sell to niggas The open housing struggle would put Milwaukee in the National spotlight It Tube would take years to resolve in 1960 attorney Lloyd Barbie and then law student Tom Jacobson devised the first Northern City and Demonstration in Madison to dramatize the need for a statewide fair housing law Two years later vel Phillips the first african-American and woman elected to Milwaukee’s common council Sponsored a similar Citywide measure she was outvoted 18 21 the housing crunch was severe in Milwaukee the African-American community had tripled in size between 1950 and 1960 and and Grown again by 1967 but the opportunities to [Rant] Beyond a certain restricted area Didn’t increase and and the open housing campaign was not so much so that people could live in Brookfield or mequon here So people could live on 27th street. We have tried every means possible to bring fair housing legislation to the city of Milwaukee Father James Crappie became an Advisor to the N-Double-A-Cp [YouTh] [Council] in 1965 A native Milwaukee in Graphi had been active in the organization’s effort to desegregate the public schools He also worked in the south that summer with the Southern Christian leadership Conferences voter registration drive, so did peggy rozga. I was so amazing poverty it Totally changed my life totally changed my life when I back I saw Milwaukee through new eyes She joined the youth council and began protesting the injustice as she saw so did Betty Harris Martin my father And my grandmother on my father’s side were a part of when segregation was really segregation and my grandfather his father spoke to a white girl and for speaking to her he was killed and He was made my father and grandmother mother was made watch as they ran a tractor back and forth over him until he was level with the ground and I made her a promise. I made him a promise That I would continue to fight for civil rights As long as I keep continued to walk Squire, Austin was one of the youth Councils commandos the commandos were a police Force that we put together to protect the leaders of DG2 marches and The speakers and the people that were actually doing a March That was the philosophy of the commandos We’re not going to mess with you. We are going to protect these people behind us, okay But no, we are not nonviolent if you attack us We will not fall up in a little knot and let you do whatever you want to do We have dignity we have pride and we’re demanding that you respect that Tension increased as protestors continue to press for equality and their efforts met with little success Relations with the police which had not been good became more strained If you participated you went to jail once they get you handcuffed and then a wagon or in the elevator You’re going to get hit You’re going to get beat we knew that was coming and so [that’s] nothing you can do about that. You can complain all you want, but you have no proof I remember being arrested on Wisconsin Avenue and being taken to jail and When I got down there, I remember being put in a room, and I remember being whooped with a rubber hose Across my legs, and I think that’s another reason why I’m problems with them from high today But I remember being pooped and I remember being told now tomorrow. We don’t want to see you out here Because if we see you out there you think today is something wait until tomorrow? on July Thirtieth 1967 violence broke out in Milwaukee as police attempted to break up a fight at a downtown entertainment club The riot may not have been as destructive as the recent violence and Newark or Detroit, but it did take its toll on the city people talk about the riot quote-unquote that took place of Milwaukee I Look at it. And I said you know without someone like father [guapi] to siphon off that steam and that energy and that anger You would have had [a] real riot here, so in some aspects You achieve the relieving of the anger the explosiveness that this country experienced But you didn’t experience. It here in Milwaukee because it was a valve to kind of let that out and a legitimate confrontation over What our disagreements are? Well a worse thing I remember Is sitting on my porch and watching the national guard go by in Jeeps and trucks? pointing guns at us That’s the worst thing. I remember as a matter of fact that really got me Much more active than I had been on August tWenty-eighth 200 Civil rights protesters marched across the sixteenth street viaduct to Milwaukee’s south side where blacks had not been able to live They were met by about five thousand angry white spectators who threw rocks bricks and obscenities at them I? Grew up on the south side when we marched across the viaduct we marched to an area where I hung out as a teenager the African [American] teenagers in the Youth Council were terrified I Thought they were wrong I Thought it won’t be it turned out. They were right It was real another eye opener for me that that the hatred that had been somehow under wraps Was uncovered and it amazed me that I hadn’t seen how deep and how pervasive it was before that we didn’t realize just how bad [it] was going to be too once we got there you know and She’s still with it the best, we could I Didn’t know that racial hatred ran. So deep as it didn’t how the people they were so angry and What we were protesting for was not to take anything away. It was just the right to be able To enter me go with all people Instead of being disheartened the youth Councils resolve was strengthened we are going to March again on the south side this evening We’re going to begin here at the freedom house the six o’clock and we’re going to take the same route that we took last night The second night the Protesters were met by a bigger and angrier crowd and the National news Media the ensuing confrontation caused Milwaukee to be dubbed the soma of the North by journalists covering the event I labeled Milwaukee the sum of the North Following the initial Marches across the sixteenth Street viaduct when peaceful protesters marched into the primarily white ethnic Working-class side of town and faced Incredible opposition including racist chants and signs they had things thrown FM Rocks Bricks sticks even Human urine and feces things like that people holding white power signs and then they were also attacked Later that [evening] the youth councils home freedom house was mysteriously set on fire and burned down We were in the freedom house now that was a scary moment when the tear gas came up into The freedom house and we were watching television and then all of a Sudden were choking and we don’t know how we’re going to get out because The front door is where and the windows is where? came in and we’re trying to figure out should we lay low and I’m being told stay down because Tear gas don’t get down the slow and I said oh, but I’m coughing I’ve got to come out of here and I remember [getting] to a window and the Window was broke and I remember someone hollering and saying jump Betty jump and I was afraid to jump but I knew I couldn’t stay in there because the fire had started and he says oh No, you must jump you gotta jump So I said oh, I’m gonna take a chance cuz it’s too hot in here And I remember jumping but I remember where I landed I remember jumping out you know to get out Fire department came and the police wouldn’t allow the fire department to put out the fire because they said there were snipers in the area Only people [we] saw the guns were police officers But the freedom walkers continue to March and Gather new recruits Chuck Cooney live just off of the viaduct he and a neighbor accepted the invitation to [Join] the marchers I had seen the pictures of the integration of the southern universities and the federal marshals and people yelling hateful things and the looks of but it just until until I Actually, did it I just I didn’t think there was That much hatred and and and I guess that much racism, and I just didn’t I Didn’t believe it, but that night that very first March I Remember saying you know I remember actually praying you know I hope it was kind of a myopic vision nancy and I get out of [this] in one piece What those marches really did is? They kept the focus a high focus because they bought the national Spotlight on Milwaukee because of the reaction of the marches as they went into the south side of Milwaukee And it highlighted the prejudices in the city The protests continued for more than 200 days the freedom [walkers] efforts may not have been successful locally But they did succeed at the national level the open housing campaign here the national attention That it attracted helped spur passage of the civil rights act of nineteen sixty eight or otherwise known as the fair housing act back then Just to see my family being able to move into a better home. You know it was exciting It was it was it was really great. You know my father. He worked hard all his life we could afford to move into [a] better neighborhood and But yet, we couldn’t and then that day came where we could so it was all worth while you know everything We did every march. We made was worth it. We fought for equality and opportunity That we could not be denied based simply because [of] the color of our skin That’s the world we fought for it’s not the world that we have today with integration Becomes the dispersion of our community as a community as a whole if you stay together we have more power And we just disperse and we don’t have that community anymore. I think it’s a better place but I’m awfully saddened by The fact that it could be a much better place Because I still get the feeling that that there are booths in this community on the necks of people that they shouldn’t be on and There’s an old lassie. I think that fits it you can’t keep your boot on my neck and make progress I think Milwaukee’s tried to hide from its racial past and It’s it you can’t it’s there, and you may as well acknowledged it and and make a determination that You want to turn away from the hatred and the ugly? Toward justice and something beautiful I Think we’ve made raised the issue That many times economics could smooth Ah, but if you in your heart don’t believe that other people are as equal as you it is indeed A difficult task and so I believe that education helps improve that We made it across the bridge within after we got across Now we’re facing some of the same problems Day as we did just to get across the bridge oh

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