Desegregation and Civil Rights

African Americans in Wisconsin had been struggling for their civil rights for more than a century before the movement began to attract headlines in the 1960s. In 1866, for example, Milwaukee's Ezekiel Gillespie successfully sued for the right to vote, and in the 1930s, William Kelley of the Milwaukee Urban League began to fight for the rights of black teachers to work in the public schools. These early efforts were especially difficult because African Americans made up only a very small percentage of the state's residents before the middle of the 20th century. For information about early civil rights history... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: African American housing conditions in Milwaukee in 1955African American housing conditions in Milwaukee in 1955
Link to article: Former slaves who settled in Madison and RacineFormer slaves who settled in Madison and Racine
Link to article: Wisconsin voting and civil rights legislation, 1846-1929.Wisconsin voting and civil rights legislation, 1846-1929.
Link to article: The KKK parades through Madison in 1924The KKK parades through Madison in 1924
Link to artifacts: A block-print wall hanging from the Milwaukee Handicraft ProjectA block-print wall hanging from the Milwaukee Handicraft Project
Link to book: A 1950 guide to African American businessesA 1950 guide to African American businesses
Link to book: Wisconsin's African American population from statehood through 1910Wisconsin's African American population from statehood through 1910
Link to book: A survey of black families in rural Wisconsin, 1959A survey of black families in rural Wisconsin, 1959
Link to book: The effects of Milwaukee school desegregation efforts, 1992The effects of Milwaukee school desegregation efforts, 1992
Link to book: Milwaukee residents discuss the city's racial problems, 1965Milwaukee residents discuss the city's racial problems, 1965
Link to images: Milwaukee civil rights leader, Lloyd BarbeeMilwaukee civil rights leader, Lloyd Barbee
Link to images: Fr. James Groppi leading Milwaukee civil rights demonstrations, 1966-1969.Fr. James Groppi leading Milwaukee civil rights demonstrations, 1966-1969.
Link to images: Photograph of attorney Byron Paine, ca. 1860Photograph of attorney Byron Paine, ca. 1860
Link to manuscript: A detailed look at Milwaukee's black community in 1946A detailed look at Milwaukee's black community in 1946
Link to manuscript: An African American woman describes her migration to Wisconsin in 1917An African American woman describes her migration to Wisconsin in 1917
Link to manuscript: Wisconsin passes the country's first gay rights law, 1982Wisconsin passes the country's first gay rights law, 1982
Link to manuscript: William Rasche advocates on behalf of African American workersWilliam Rasche advocates on behalf of African American workers
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