Between 1958 and 1970, a distinctive movement for racial justice emerged from unique circumstances in Milwaukee. A series of local leaders inspired growing numbers of people to participate in campaigns against employment and housing discrimination, segregated public schools, the membership of public officials in discriminatory organizations, welfare cuts, and police brutality.
The Milwaukee movement culminated in the dramatic--and sometimes violent--1967 open housing campaign. A white Catholic priest, James Groppi, led the NAACP Youth Council and Commandos in a militant struggle that lasted for 200 consecutive nights and provoked the ire of thousands of white residents. After working-class mobs attacked demonstrators, some called Milwaukee "the Selma of the North." Others believed the housing campaign represented the last stand for a nonviolent, interracial, church-based movement.
Patrick Jones tells a powerful and dramatic story that is important for its insights into civil rights history: the debate over nonviolence and armed self-defense, the meaning of Black Power, the relationship between local and national movements, and the dynamic between southern and northern activism. Jones offers a valuable contribution to movement history in the urban North that also adds a vital piece to the national story.
A well-researched and fascinating narrative...Jones has produced an outstanding study of the civil rights movement in Milwaukee which should prove a model for investigations of other Northern cities. -- Ron Briley History News Network 20090419 Anyone living in Milwaukee in the '60s and old enough to be aware will recall a time of sharp tension. A riot erupted in the inner city during the summer of 1967, a year of unrest around the nation, and a white Roman Catholic priest organized black youth to march against the segregation that confined African Americans to Milwaukee's poorest, most run-down quarter. Whites responded with violence. And the police were not amused by challenges to the status quo. The story is recounted with lucid scholarship in The Selma of the North: Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee. -- David Luhrssen Express Milwaukee 20090512 Selma of the North is a solid entry into the expanding bookshelf on civil rights activism in the North, offering what Jones rightly calls "another tile to the mosaic" of studies about the struggle for racial justice in the twentieth century. -- Amanda I. Seligman H-Net 20090401