Reporting on Milwaukee's open housing marches

Title

Reporting on Milwaukee's open housing marches

Subject

Civil rights demonstrations; Journalists

Description

I was a reporter for United Press International in Milwaukee who covered the open housing marches in Milwaukee, and did a number of interviews with Father James Groppi, as well as Dick Gregory, who came to participate in the demonstrations with the NAACP Youth Council. I still have the World War Two combat helmet I wore to work when covering these marches, to keep bricks, bottles and rocks thrown from third story rooftops on Milwaukee's South Side from landing on my head. I was one of the reporters who was on the scene that first time when the police threw tear gas on 16th Street on Milwaukee's South Side after the white residents became violent with the NAACP youth who were simply marching into the South Side singing freedom songs. The events that followed gave me a whole new picture of the "real" America. I have lived in Alaska for many years now and covered a number of issues, including the civil rights of Alaska Natives, fisheries and the environment, but the open housing marches in Milwaukee taught me perhaps the most valuable lesson I ever learned about defending the rights of all Americans.

In late September of 2014, while at Homecoming at Michigan State University, one of MSU's distinguished professors asked me to speak to his class about my experiences as a journalist and I told the students in part about my experiences covering the open housing marches, the violence and racial hatred on Milwaukee's South Side, and how kind black residents on the North Side of the city were to let me into their homes to use their telephones to call in updates on the marches, and offer me a glass of iced water. Those were hot summer days and we were walking many miles a day. We had no cell phones back then and glassed in public phone booths that still had working phones, were nonetheless not a real safe place to be during demonstrations, so use of private phones in the homes of these gracious strangers, along with iced water, was a blessing.

I told the students about these experiences and reminded them lack of racial tolerance was still alive and well in the United States and that their job as investigative reporters would include continuing to track racial tolerance or the lack of it as they covered the world.

Creator

Bauman, Margaret

Date

2015-01-15

Rights

Published by Recollection Wisconsin with permission of the submitter. All rights remain with the creator(s).

Language

English

Type

Text

Coverage

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Collection

Citation

Bauman, Margaret, “Reporting on Milwaukee's open housing marches,” Recollection Wisconsin, accessed September 21, 2017, http://recollectionwi.org/items/show/44.