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Author: Margaret Rozga

When fair housing fails to add up: The mathematical summary for 200 Nights of Freedom

Let’s think of it as an addition problem. What is the sum of Milwaukee’s 200 consecutive nights of marching in 1967-68 for fair housing, plus 50 years plus the 200 Nights of Freedom events of the 2017-18 March On Milwaukee 50th anniversary? That should be easy. 200 + 50 + 200 = 450, but if we add marches and years and events, then we are left with a question: 450 what? Do the numbers add up to fair housing? To racial equality? To the inclusive community where I want to live? Or just another year? Two years, if you...

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The difficulties Milwaukee has in saying “Yes” to success for education

The Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Board and administration is currently in the process of considering budget options. One of the proposals is to limit busing to a seven mile radius for city-wide specialty schools, in effect, making them no longer city-wide. The savings on this proposal would be relatively minimal, and the effect on programs that bring credit to our public school system would be major. I am especially concerned about the crippling effect such a cut would have on the language immersion programs. The language immersion programs are among the few schools where something near racial balance still...

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Open housing loopholes remain in Milwaukee 50 years after assassination of MLK

Seven months to the day before he died, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. sent a telegram to Milwaukee civil rights leader Father James Groppi at St. Boniface Catholic Church, the headquarters for Milwaukee’s 1967-68 fair housing marches. “Your actions inspire me deeply,” Dr. King wrote in support of these marches led by Father Groppi and members of the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council. I was one of those marchers. We needed the support Dr. King’s message provided. On Aug. 28, 1967, our intrepid group of 200 to 250 marchers crossed what was then the 16th Street Viaduct from...

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‘Evicted’ highlights how time has stood still since open housing marches

“Reading Desmond’s book about the housing crunch for low-income renters in Milwaukee makes me feel as if time has stood still.” – Margaret Rozga It was the 32nd apartment she looked at in her search for a place to live. The owner arrived, parked his Saab, and showed her to the two-bedroom unit. “The place was small, dumpy, and without a bathtub. After a walk-through, Vanetta asked the landlord if he had any other units with tubs,” wrote Matthew Desmond about one of the people whose housing struggles he documents in his book, “Evicted.” Vanetta wants to be able...

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A look back at “March on Milwaukee” after half century

Early in the evening of Monday, August 28, 1967, over one hundred members of the Milwaukee Youth Council of the NAACP gathered at their headquarters at 1316 North 15th Street, picked up signs hand-lettered with slogans like “We Need Fair Housing,” and, led by Father James E. Groppi, a white Roman Catholic priest who served as their adviser, headed toward the 16th Street viaduct. At about 6:30 p.m. they were greeted at the north end of the viaduct by almost another one hundred supporters and crossed over the viaduct to the nearly all-white south side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There...

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A disregard for the cultural heritage

Near the deep cold blue lakes in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan, rugged mountains rise dramatically. For 15 centuries these mountains were home to two immense statues of Buddha, one 170 feet tall, the other almost 140 feet tall. When the Taliban destroyed these statues in March 2001, people around the world gasped at the audacity and felt outrage at the destruction of these works important to Buddhists, and to the cultural heritage of the world. These statues were marvels of human creativity, and they were irreplaceable. Very near the long stretch of life-giving blue at Milwaukee’s lakefront, there...

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