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

By Bill Dahlk | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 21
FROM SEGREGATION TO
STRATIFICATION:

THE UNEVEN COURSE OF PROPRIETORSHIP,
1963–2002

When I came here [in the late 1950s], I was impressed at the
availability of jobs. All the major companies, like A. O. Smith and
Harnischfeger, were in full swing, hiring thousands of individuals.
Most of the work was unskilled, which meant that there was an
opportunity for individuals who had very little formal education
to find jobs where they could sustain families. This was a major
attraction
.

—Wesley Scott, 19971

The problem is that the positive change [since 1967] has not been
seen for the vast majority of
[blacks]. But for the relatively small
number of us who have education and jobs that were not possible
for us to have in ’67, our lives are immeasurably better than they
were in ’67
.

—Howard Fuller, 19872

We have a crisis that is even larger than academic attainment.
We have a crisis of engagement
.

—School board director John Gardner, 20023

African Americans migrated to Milwaukee in large numbers in the years 1940 to 1970, during which time they increased from 1.5 to 15 percent of the population. By 2000, blacks were 38 percent of the city population due to a high black birthrate and white flight. By that same year, nearly 60 percent of Milwaukee Public School (MPS) students

1 MJS February 19, 1997.

2 MJ July 26, 1987.

3 MJS December 7, 2002.

-634-

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