The County Board of Supervisors today unanimously adopted a proposal to rename Lindbergh Park, 3629 N. 16th Street to “Lucille Berrien Park” on June 24.
Located behind the old Keefe Avenue School, the park is surrounded by a predominantly Black neighborhood and serves as a center for community activities. An effort has been underway for some time to replace its namesake, the pilot Charles Lindbergh. Best known for making the first nonstop flight between New York City and Paris, Lindbergh also had a history of racism and antisemitism.
“Charles Lindbergh was a Nazi sympathizer and white supremacist, information that was revealed years after he flew the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927,” said Brian Verdin, and organizer with Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist & Political in April. “Born in 1928, Lucille Berrien is a longtime resident of not only Milwaukee but of 18th and Nash Street.”
Lindbergh also blamed U.S. involvement in World War II on Jewish people, and wrote a 1939 article in “Readers Digest” which he argued, amongst other anti-integration positions, for the preservation of the White race and denounced “dilution by foreign races.”
Supervisor Coggs-Jones proposed renaming the park in consultation with the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and area residents.
“Ms. Lucille Berrien is an incredible community activist who deserves this recognition,” said Supervisor Coggs-Jones. “This legislation provides correction of a historical atrocity and moves us forward in our commitment to racial equity.”
At 93 years-old, Berrien is a prominent and highly regarded individual in the city, and a major figure in the history of Milwaukee civil rights. As a life-long activist, she organized protests that ranged from the Vietnam War to the Free South Africa movement. She has served on the board of directors for both Legal Action of Wisconsin and the Black Health Coalition and has fostered more than 120 children in her lifetime.
Berrien was the first Black woman to run for Milwaukee mayor, and although her run was not successful, she helped other Black women ascend to elected positions as an organizer for Shirley Chisholm’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The park was conveyed to Milwaukee County by the City of Milwaukee in 1936. Renaming the park is contingent upon the City of Milwaukee repealing a provision in its deed with Milwaukee County that requires that the park be named Lindbergh Park.