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

By Bill Dahlk | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
NORTH DIVISION HIGH SCHOOL:
THE COMMUNITY BEGINS TO CLAIM ITS OWN,
1967–1973

We want a high school that looks like someone cares.

—Yolanda Love, North Division student leader, 19731


EDUCATIONAL SELF-DETERMINISM

Dual agenda proponents rejected the idea that black schools were inherently inferior. This conviction had a number of sources. One was necessity: the opposition of whites and school authorities to significant school desegregation meant that the primary nearfuture alternative was to improve black schools. In Milwaukee, community leader Amanda Coomer’s declaration that blacks could not afford to lose another generation while waiting for integration was the bottom-line stand of many.2 A second source was the positive experiences many black adults had had with black schools in the past. A third was the inspiring vision of the black power and black nationalist movements which focused on the heritage of African Americans. The influence of these movements revealed itself in October 1967 when 5,000 high school students nationwide went on strike for the inclusion of more black history in the curriculum.3 One year later, over 30,000

1 MC April 28, 1973.

2 MJ June 16, 1968.

3 Max Standard, “Black Nationalism and the Afro-American Student,” Black Scholar 10 (June 1971): 29. In April 1966, there was a massive walkout by black students from Northern High School in Detroit as students protested the principal’s banning of an article in the student newspaper criticizing low educational standards at the school. When school authori-

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