Against the Wind: African Americans and the Schools in Milwaukee, 1963-2002

Against the Wind: African Americans and the Schools in Milwaukee, 1963-2002

Against the Wind: African Americans and the Schools in Milwaukee, 1963-2002

Against the Wind: African Americans and the Schools in Milwaukee, 1963-2002

Excerpt

Ever since it opened in 1926, Messmer High School had been a pillar of Catholic education in the city of Milwaukee. On February 10, 1984, the Milwaukee Archdiocese announced that, due to low enrollment for the coming fall, Messmer would close at the end of the current school year. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Greg Borowski who was a student at Messmer in 1984 recounted what happened on the day the closing was announced: “[T]ears spilled down cheeks and lockers were slammed.” Borowski continued: “Classes were small, teachers friendly, school spirit strong. The students were white, black, Hispanic. … There was always an excitement about it, every day a blur of activity.” No wonder a student picketer, protesting the closing, carried a sign that read: “You’re Not Closing A School, Your Breaking Up A Family!”

Between February and August, Messmer parents, organized as the “Save Messmer Committee,” struggled mightily to keep the school open. They gathered petitions, raised money, and recruited supporters. When the archdiocese did not relent, the committee was able to buy the building from the archdiocese. It opened the next September as an independent school. On that day, a banner greeted the 129 . . .

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