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Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the home of America's Black Holocaust Museum. Originally settled by German immigrants, Milwaukee became more of a melting pot during subquest immigration waves. Milwaukee's Bronzeville neighborhood, of which ABHM is a part, was originally settled by Germans before becoming the African American Center of the city. The city was well known for manufacturing materials and beer, and local sports teams such as the Brewers still pay homage to those roots.
Currently, Milwaukee has 1.18 more Black or African American residents than any other race. However, racism is often prevalent and is also known as the most segregated city in the country. The economic disparities are especially dire, with Black Milwaukeeans experiencing poverty at five times the rate of their white counterparts. Milwaukee was important in conversations about race during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Milwaukee is more politically liberal than much of Wisconsin, perhaps due to the demographics of its residents. Due to this, some politicians have attempted to influence politics by closing polling places in the city, much like they attempt to control elections by changing polling maps.
Nevertheless, the Black community and culture survive and even thrive in Milwaukee. The city welcomes speakers, organizations, and events that recognize and celebrate Black culture, including an annual weekly celebration of the Bronzeville neighborhood. Mayor Cavalier Johnson is the city's first Black mayor, while the city recently inducted its first Black woman as deputy fire chief.
By Aziah Siid, Word in Black
With 23% of Black students attending schools that are more than three-quarters Black, modern-day school segregation is real.
Here’s what you probably know about school segregation in the United States: On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that racially segregated public schools were unconstitutional in the Brown v. Board of Education case.
Many cities across the Jim Crow South refused to comply with the ruling, and so six years later, on Nov. 14, 1960, a brave 6-year-old girl named Ruby Bridges needed U.S. marshals to escort her to her first day of class at all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. At the same time, 6-year-olds Gail Etienne, Tessie Prevost, and Leona Tate integrated nearby McDonogh 19 Elementary School.
Norman Rockwell immortalized Bridges being escorted into the school in his famous 1964 painting, “The Problem We All Live With.” In the decades since, de jure segregation mandated by law has disappeared, but de facto segregation — what actually happens in practice — persists, and it continues to impact Black students today. How? Well, here’s what you may not know about modern-day school segregation.
1. Not much has happened since the 1970s.
Experts at The Civil Rights Project at UCLA say school desegregation “peaked in 1988,” and there have been no major legal or policy advances since that time. It’s been almost 70 years since the high court struck down the“separate but equal” doctrine, but as researchers Gary Orfield and Danielle Jarvie wrote in a recent report, the legal effort to integrate schools has been abandoned and led to increased “isolation of Black students in all sectors of American education.” They go on to note that “New policies are needed, and legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives, the Strength in Diversity Act, could be a positive beginning.”
Siid’s article continues with six more points.
Antonio Planas, NBC News
Dechandria Bass and Dwan Brown were kicked out of Houston’s Restaurant on Aug. 7, the federal lawsuit says.
A Black couple who were kicked out of a restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, last year for allegedly smelling like marijuana filed a federal racial discrimination lawsuit against the eatery last week.
Dechandria Bass and her boyfriend, Dwan Brown, of Coahoma County in Mississippi, were in Tennessee on Aug. 7 to visit Brown’s mother and cousin, according to the suit, filed Thursday in federal court.
The couple met up with the family members at Houston’s Restaurant on Poplar Avenue in Memphis.
Shortly after they arrived, restaurant manager Kayla Hollins, who is white, went to the group’s table and told the couple to leave because “they smelled like weed,” according to the lawsuit.
Bass and Brown didn’t initially react and thought Hollins was talking to someone else, because they knew they didn’t smell like marijuana, the suit says.
Moments later, according to the lawsuit, Hollins returned to the table with a police officer and told the couple, “I asked you to leave and come back tomorrow because you smell like weed.”
Carlos Moore, an attorney representing the couple, said Wednesday his clients don’t smoke marijuana and hadn’t smoked the day they were booted from the restaurant.
What was supposed to be a “great family outing” was “ruined,” Moore said. His clients were discriminated against because they are Black, said Moore, who added the marijuana accusation was “Jim Crow era 2.0 — a new way to discriminate” in the restaurant industry.
Read the rest of the article here.
Learn more about the Jim Crow era, referenced in this article, here.
Read more Breaking News here.
Char Adams, NBC News
“We had no choice but to tear it down,” Morgan State University president said. “We couldn’t have this symbol of hate staring down every single day.”
For more than 80 years, Morgan State University students walking down Hillen Road near the school’s entrance saw a massive red brick wall. Some thought it was a simple alley; others thought perhaps it protected a few garages. But the structure was actually a “spite wall” intended to keep Black students from venturing into a once predominantly white Baltimore neighborhood.
Over time, the history of the wall faded into obscurity, its original intent known only by a few. But Wilson said the university doesn’t plan to ignore the past now that the wall is gone. Instead, he said, officials plan to keep a small part of the wall in place as a historical marker where students can learn about its dark history.
The wall was built along Hillen Road in front of the school’s entrance and stretching past Northwood Shopping Center in the early 1940s after years of debate and opposition. Residents and neighborhood associations in the predominantly white city already had qualms with the school when it moved to its current location in 1917, [University President David] Wilson said. The state’s decision to change what was then Morgan College from a private institution into a public one in 1939 to help Black people only “exacerbated” the racial strife, Wilson said. It happened as Baltimore began to adopt restrictive racial covenants limiting where Black people could live — Baltimore was among the first cities to adopt such practices.
By Claretta Bellamy, NBC News
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The historic Fruit Belt neighborhood on Buffalo’s East Side, with its Grape, Peach and Lemon streets, was once thriving. Yet now, in place of the orchards that once gave the area its name, there are abandoned homes with broken steps and “no trespassing” signs, overgrown empty plots of land and a troubling lack of grocery stores.
The only supermarket on the East Side is Tops, where a white gunman killed 10 Black residents in May. While the tragedy brought national attention to this neighborhood and its status as a food desert, access to grocery stores with fresh produce remains a problem more than six months later, according to locals like Alex Wright.
Now, organizations like the African Heritage Food Co-op, which Wright founded, as well as groups like Buffalo’s Black Billion and Neu Water & Associates, are building supermarkets, growing gardens and investing in providing fresh fruits and vegetables to residents here. Their larger aim is to create a self-sufficient community.
“It’s about gainful employment,” Wright, 43, said in October of his future grocery store. “We want our employees to be able to go on vacation. We want them to be able to put their kids in tutoring and to go and get the car they can afford and to put the down payment on the house they would like. We want them to have careers.”
The problems that plague the East Side are rooted in racial segregation and redlining policies implemented decades ago. Black Buffalo residents are six times more likely to live in an area without a grocery store compared to white residents, according to a 2018 report by the Partnership for the Public Good, a Buffalo-based think tank.
Today, the impacts of redlining — discriminatory practices that prevented Black families from receiving loans to purchase homes — are still visible. Many corporate leaders avoid building supermarkets in Black communities, and there is no significant improvement in Black home ownership rates over the past 30 years, according to the report. Community members fought for years before the Tops on Jefferson Avenue was built in 2003.
Check out the rest of Bellamy’s article.
By Rachel Jones, National Geographic
80 years after the Montford Point Camp was established to train enlisted African Americans, relatives and other Marines fight to document their contributions before it’s too late.
JACKSONVILLE, NORTH CAROLINAThe first thing Carroll William Braxton remembers about June of 1943 is the heat. It was hot in Manassas, Virginia when he and two buddies caught a train to Quantico, and then another to Jacksonville, North Carolina. Braxton was 18, and as World War II engulfed more of America’s mental and physical bandwidth, he didn’t want to wait to be drafted. He wanted one of those sharp, blue uniforms sported by United States Marines.
Then came the scorching abuse.
“They made us line up and empty our pockets, and shouted, ‘We don’t want those knives in here,’ I guess they thought we always had knives, you know,” Braxton says. “And I remember I was wearing a hat, and this MP threw it on the ground and stomped on it. And he proceeded to call me every kind of “n—-r’ you can think of, and it seems like he was never going to stop.”
The 98-year-old’s shared memory of this experience comes in late August while he’s seated in what was once the mess hall for recruits at the former Montford Point Marines Training Camp. Established in 1942, the building was decommissioned in 1949 and is now part of a museum honoring the service of approximately 20,000 men who became the first Black recruits in the U.S. Marines Corps.
On this recent summer day, Braxton and four other original Montford Point Marines donned their blue woolen jackets adorned with ribbons and medals, and blue hats with red piping and gold lettering. They sat in the first row of metal folding chairs. Some gripped canes, others needed no assistance to stand at attention. All now in their mid to late-90’s, they were joined by the families of 11 other men who had trained at what is now known as Camp Johnson, a satellite school for the nearby Camp Lejeune.
During the 57th annual convention of the National Montford Point Marine Association, Inc., family members received bronze replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal that was originally awarded to those history-making recruits in 2012.
But 80 years after the Montford Point Camp was carved out of a swampy woody 1,600-acre peninsula near Jacksonville, many of those who followed those recruits are in a race against time. They want more men like Braxton to know that their service is lauded in the same vein as the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the Buffalo Soldiers, or the Tuskeegee Airmen, aka the “Red Tails.”
“We estimate there are about 16,000 names that we still haven’t been able to locate and verify,” says the association’s president, James Averhart, Jr., a retired chief warrant officer 5. “That’s 16,000 families who may not realize the sacrifice and service of a father or grandfather. It is an inherent obligation that we identify these individuals and acknowledge their service.”
Find images of Black service members in this Veteran’s Day post.
By Jay Reeves, Associated Press
Millions of letters and packages sent to U.S. troops had accumulated in warehouses in Europe by the time Allied troops were pushing toward the heart of Hitler’s Germany near the end of World War II. This wasn’t junk mail — it was the main link between home and the front in a time long before video chats, texting or even routine long-distance phone calls.
The job of clearing out the massive backlog in a military that was still segregated by race fell upon the largest all-Black, all-female group to serve in the war, the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. On Tuesday, the oldest living member of the unit was honored for her service nearly eight decades after the war ended.
Romay Davis, 102, was recognized at an event at Montgomery City Hall that followed President Joe Biden’s decision in March to sign a bill authorizing the Congressional Gold Medal for the unit, nicknamed the “Six Triple Eight.”
Presented with the medal citation and a wartime uniform to replace hers, which was stolen out of a car soon after she returned stateside, Davis received a standing ovation; some in the crowd applauded with tears in their eyes.
Read more about Romay Davis.
Romay’s battalion received the Congressional Gold Medal earlier this year.
By Zachary Schermele, NBC News
Nearly 19 million students in the U.S., or more than a third, attended a public school in the 2020-21 school year where at least 75% of students were of the same race or ethnicity, according to a report released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office.
The 45-page analysis looked at years’ worth of data from the Department of Education. It provides a stark assessment of the state of racial and socioeconomic equity for K-12 students.
Although the diversity of the total student population has increased in recent years, inequity persists, the report says.
“Ensuring equal access to educational opportunity — a key component of the Department of Education’s mission — remains a persistent challenge,” Jackie Nowicki, lead author and the director of K-12 education at the GAO, said in the report.
The new data also shows that 14% of students — about 7 million — attended schools where at least 90% of their peers were all of one race or ethnicity. Of the students attending schools where at least three-fourths of their peers were of their own racial or ethnic background, nearly half were white — compared to 31% Hispanic, 23% Black, 19% American Indian/Alaska Native, and 4% Asian students.
Find out more about this report.
Racial segregation in education has recently been the subject of federal investigations in Alabama.
Get more breaking Black news.
By Clare Reid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
This is its little-known history.
Peter Baker still clearly remembers his first visit to Lake Ivanhoe. It was 1966, and he was a preteen from the south side of Chicago.
A friend of his, whose grandfather was a big fisherman, took Baker and his younger brother there on a fishing trip. That evening, Baker returned home excited to tell his parents about this new fishing spot.
“We came home with a lot, a lot of fish and basically ran in the house with all the fish we caught that day and said ‘Mama, we were up in a community. It was all Black,'” Baker recalled. “That was really strange in Wisconsin.”
It was only two years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited segregation in public places nationwide. Baker’s parents were intrigued by the idea of this rural, nearly all-Black subdivision just over six miles from Lake Geneva.
They went to see Lake Ivanhoe for themselves the following weekend. By the end of the weekend, Baker said, they had purchased a home there. For Baker, there was nothing better than growing up in Lake Ivanhoe and playing outside with the other neighborhood children.
Now in his 60s, Baker has lived in Lake Ivanhoe ever since. However, it wasn’t until his 40s that he discovered the community’s unique history.
In California, land that once belonged to a resort known as Bruce’s Beach has recently been returned to the owner’s descendants.
Find more articles like this in our breaking news archive.
By Ariana Brockington, Today
Restoring Idlewild, a historic vacation spot for Black people — 110 years later
In 1912, prominent members of the Black community began vacationing in Idlewild, a thriving beach town in the forests of Northern Michigan. W.E.B. Du Bois, Madam C. J. Walker and other intellectuals and political figures came to this area, known as Black Eden, where Black families could relax and own property.
They found a safe haven in the Jim Crow era that denied them rights and equality.
“This was a place of refuge and relaxation,” said Susan Matous, who lives in the resort town year-round, in an interview with NBC News correspondent Meagan Fitzgerald.
Matous and partner Blair Evans spoke to NBC News about the cultural impact of Black Eden and their efforts to bring people back to the area.
“A lot of people appreciated coming to Idlewild in one sense, because you escaped from the oppression of being Black, but in another sense, because you can be authentically Black with other Black folks and talk about Black issues,” Evans explained.
He added that being in the community could change their “entire agenda from suffering through being Black to enjoying being Black.”
Continue reading about the cultural importance of Black Eden and the efforts to restore it.
Follow our breaking news page to keep updated.
By Eduardo Medina, The New York Times
Young people who marched and organized during the civil rights movement are now in their 70s and 80s. With fewer and fewer remaining, historians rush to record their stories.
The people who marched and organized in their teens and 20s during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, when segregation was legal and disenfranchisement widespread, are now in their 70s and 80s.
With every year, there are fewer surviving activists from that era, a monumental period of surging activism. It was one of the most consequential times in American history, mired in bloody beatings and deaths and remembered for the landmark laws that were passed in its wake.
“Today is April 4, 2019,” a University of Florida historian began, and as Ms. (Vivian Washington) Filer, then 80, heard her name spoken, she looked straight ahead and smiled.
“A lot of people my age who fought for freedom, there is so much we know that others won’t because our stories are dying with us,” Ms. Filer said on a recent afternoon. “So the urgency to tell our history is here and now.”
“There were so many of us,” she said. “That’s why the few of us who are left have to tell our story.”
Ms. Filer is now the chair of the board of directors at the Cotton Club Museum and Cultural Center in Gainesville, which, in March, will produce “Grandma’s Stories,” a reading of oral histories from women who lived during the time of Jim Crow.
Read the full story about these activists here.
More Breaking News here.