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

By Bill Dahlk | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
FATHER GROPPI AND
THE COMMANDOS:
THE EMERGENCE OF A
SELF-DETERMINIST TENDENCY

We defined black power for ourselves some time ago. To us, it
means a struggle for political and economic unity and self-deter-
mination for the black man
.

—Fred Bronson, NAACP Commando leader1

Sock It To Me Black Power

—NAACP Youth Council T-shirt slogan, 19672


AN INTEGRATION-BLACK POWER HYBRID

The NAACP Youth Council (YC) marches in Milwaukee, beginning in 1966 and continuing into 1968 led by Father James Groppi, focused on campaigns to change the exclusionary membership rule of the Eagles Club, a private social organization, and to enact a municipal open housing ordinance.3 Neither had much to do with schools, but these efforts highlighted forces shaping the African American rights movement and related activities on behalf of educational reform. These marches also laid bare the antagonism to desegregation and to black assertiveness felt by many white Milwaukeans.

1 Frank Aukofer, City with a Chance (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1968), 138.

2 Ibid., 122.

3 The best account of Groppi and the Youth Council/Commandos’ Eagles Club and open housing campaigns is Patrick D. Jones, The Selma of the North: Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009).

-103-

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