Project Milwaukee: Black & White

Race Relations in Milwaukee

Milwaukee has long held the reputation, deservingly or not, of being one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Race relations in our community continue to impact education, economic development and our neighborhoods.

In June of 2009, WUWM News and Lake Effect journalists examined the history and evolution of black-white relations in Milwaukee. Project Milwaukee: Black & White explored how race relations have improved, and where there is still room for growth.

Effects of long term discrimination in Milwaukee rose to a boiling point in the 1960s. The period included a nearly decades long push for fair housing. That struggle was interrupted in 1967 by a violent disturbance which some people still refer to today as the Milwaukee "riot."

In the early 1960s, the local economy was booming. But a current of segregation flowed just beneath the tide of prosperity. Exclusionary practices were common.


A 2013 ranking reaffirms Milwaukee's place as the overall most segregated metropolitan area in the United States.

Sal Falko/Flickr

Two members of Milwaukee's African-American community say the George Zimmerman verdict has a stark takeaway for black male teens.

A Madison writer helps a remarkable Milwaukee woman tell her story of a lifetime’s search for justice.

WUWM's Project Milwaukee: Black and White forum took place on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory - The Domes.

The panel of experts addressed race relations and the impact of segregation in Milwaukee from a variety of perspectives: education, business, social services, and unemployment.

Afterwards, roundtable conversations focused on exploring ways to improve and build a more integrated community.

The third section of our "Project Milwaukee: Black & White" forum on race relations, returned to the panel to hear their reactions to the audience’s comments, and concluded with suggestions for specific actions to move Milwaukee toward greater racial harmony and cooperation. Mitch Teich moderated the panel discussion.

In the second part of our "Project Milwaukee: Black & White" forum on race relations, we heard from the audience members present at the Mitchell Park Domes. WUWM’s Morning Edition host Bob Bach moderated the discussion.

Today, we conclude our series about race relations. Projects Milwaukee culminated in a forum on the topic Wednesday evening at the Mitchell Park Domes. As part of the discussion, audience members brainstormed at their tables about barriers to racial harmony and who's responsible for change. Here are some conclusions reached, conveyed by Yvette Mitchell, Paul Schneider, Steven Hunter, Gina Green Harris, Kori Schneider, Omar Barbarana and Mary DeNoble.

Our series about race relations concludes today on WUWM. Project Milwaukee: Black and White culminated in a panel discussion earlier this week at the Mitchell Park Domes. Here's a snapshot of the comments our panel members offered. Our panelists were: Mark Levine of UW-Milwaukee, Tim Sheehy, head of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Enrique Figueroa, Director of the Roberto Hernandez Center at UWM, Howard Fuller of Marquette University and Paula Penebaker, President and CEO of the YWCA of Greater Milwaukee.

This segment of Project Milwaukee: Black and White focuses on what has been a flash point at times: the relationship between the police department and the community. While many officers have devoted their careers and even sacrificed their lives to keep residents safe and uphold the law, there have been instances of police abusing citizens, particularly African Americans. Beginning in the 1960s, activists increasingly brought such cases to light, demanding justice and change. WUWM’s Marge Pitrof reports.

Marc Levine is a professor of history and Director of the Center for Economic Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He tells Mitch Teich that it is possible to quantify segregation. You can hear more from Marc Levine as part of the WUWM's forum on race relations, which will be broadcast on Lake Effect tomorrow.

Diversifying the Future of the Ad & Design World

Jun 18, 2009

Jonathan Gundlach is an OnRamp board member and the manager of billing and budgeting services at Hanson Dodge Creative. Temo Xopin is the creative director and founder of Spanglish Creative Services and an OnRamp volunteer. OnRamp seeks to expose minority students in Milwaukee to the advertising and design fields. They spoke with Stephanie Lecci, and Gundlach explained that the lack of diversity in the field is not a problem unique to Milwaukee.

Renee Booker is the President and CEO of the North Avenue Community Development Corporation. Kori Schneider-Peragine is the Senior Administrator of the Community and Economic Development program for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council. They spoke with Mitch Teich, and Schneider-Peragine explains how the council looks at neighborhoods in terms of the opportunity they afford.

Volunteers & Race

Jun 18, 2009

Our feature on volunteers' perceptions of race relations in Milwaukee was produced by Stephanie Lecci. It includes voices of members of Milwaukee’s Rotaract chapter and Walnut Way Conservation Corp employees.

Mark Wade is the President of the Board of Directors for the African World Festival. Festival organizers recently announced that this summer's three-day event on Milwaukee's lakefront will not take place; they do plan to hold other events throughout the year, including tomorrow's Celebrating Shades of Black cocktail party and dance at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Wade tells Mitch Teich that he's optimistic the three-day festival will take place next summer.