Between 1958 and 1970, a distinctive movement for racial justice
emerged from unique circumstances in Milwaukee. A series of local
leaders inspired growing numbers of people to participate in
campaigns against employment and housing discrimination, segregated
public schools, the membership of public officials in
discriminatory organizations, welfare cuts, and police
The Milwaukee movement culminated in the dramatic--and sometimes
violent--1967 open housing campaign. A white Catholic priest, James
Groppi, led the NAACP Youth Council and Commandos in a militant
struggle that lasted for 200 consecutive nights and provoked the
ire of thousands of white residents. After working-class mobs
attacked demonstrators, some called Milwaukee "the Selma of the
North." Others believed the housing campaign represented the last
stand for a nonviolent, interracial, church-based movement.
Patrick Jones tells a powerful and dramatic story that is
important for its insights into civil rights history: the debate
over nonviolence and armed self-defense, the meaning of Black
Power, the relationship between local and national movements, and
the dynamic between southern and northern activism. Jones offers a
valuable contribution to movement history in the urban North that
also adds a vital piece to the national story.
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