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Father Groppi Marched for Change


Father James Groppi with young civil rights activists, 1968
WHI 5295

The civil rights movement was not confined to Southern cities like Selma and Birmingham. As the nation celebrates Black History Month this February, a new book by Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 'Father Groppi: Marching for Civil Rights,' tells the story of the fight for civil rights in the North. In this significant new addition to the Badger Biographies series, author Stuart Stotts discusses a turbulent time in Wisconsin history and shares the life story of one of the civil rights leaders who marched to change Milwaukee.

Fighting for Fair Housing

The cover of "Father Groppi: Marching for Civil Rights"
Father James Groppi, then a Catholic priest, marched arm-in-arm with African Americans in a tumultuous fight for fair housing and an end to discrimination and school segregation in Milwaukee. Father Groppi had marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders in support of the national civil rights movement, but he knew there was work to be done in his own city. In Milwaukee he teamed up with the NAACP and other organizations, protesting discrimination and segregation wherever they saw it.

The son of Italian immigrants, James Groppi grew up on the south side of Milwaukee. He knew what it felt like to be made fun of for being an outsider and developed a lifelong respect people for other races and ethnic groups. But it was while studying to become a priest that he saw the discrimination African Americans faced and he vowed to do whatever he could to fight racism. "Father Groppi: Marching for Civil Rights" is the story of how many individuals, including Father Groppi, fought together to make lasting change in Milwaukee.

About the Author

Stuart Stotts is a singer, songwriter and storyteller and has written several books for young readers, including the Badger Biographies, 'Curly Lambeau: Building the Green Bay Packers' and 'Lucius Fairchild: Civil War Hero.'

Learn more about the national civil rights movement in the Wisconsin Historical Society's soon-to-be-digitized civil rights manuscripts.

:: Posted February 25, 2013

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