Beyond Sherman Park: The Present & The Future

Aug 11, 2017

This weekend marks the first anniversary of the unrest that rocked Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood.

People angry about a fatal police shooting -- and also a lack of jobs and opportunity -- protested. Some in the crowd set buildings on fire and shot weapons into the air, as they faced off against police officers in riot gear.

Today, the neighborhood is still struggling to get a handle on the longstanding issues. So is the rest of the city.

To search for answers, WUWM and Milwaukee PBS held a community conversation -- Beyond Sherman Park.

Several themes emerged as panelists and audience members shared a variety of thoughts.

Sherman Park resident and blogger Laura Marshall talked about the negative image that some people may have formed about the neighborhood, after last August's unrest. She reminded participants that Sherman Park is a strong community, drawing some of its strength from its diversity:

The city of Milwaukee needs to be reminded that Sherman Park is not a smudge on its existence. It's a jewel in the crown of Milwaukee. We are Milwaukee's most established, most diverse, most integrated neighborhood in a city that has been segregated historically for many, many years. So if we are that neighborhood and we are here and committed already, and if Milwaukee is poised and wants to be an urban area that is able to attract and retain talented, diverse people, then it's going to have to make significant investments in the diversity that's already here, and that means Sherman Park. Because as I see it, in the way that Sherman Park goes, so will Milwaukee go.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer James Causey urged the community to continue recognizing -- and looking for -- solutions to the problems some protesters highlighted a year ago:

If this conversation is talking about "Beyond Sherman Park," let's look beyond Sherman Park. I still think that we have a long ways to go. I mean, I think when you look at the state of how some African Americans still can't find work, how our young people still struggle every day, how we still lead the country in the number of negative statistics, I don’t think enough is being done. So when you talk about Sherman Park -- we could talk about Sherman Park, but this is a city-wide issue, and when you talk about the city-wide issue and how African Americans and whites, the gap is so wide, and nothing has been done in my opinion to close that gap, I think that, you know, I wouldn't be surprised if we had more uprising because people are not listening to the people who are struggling every day.

Reggie Jackson, of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation, said some of the challenges in Milwaukee's central city neighborhoods will take a lot of time and attention to solve:

We don't recognize that we want to fix things quickly that have taken decades to create. So you have these decades of segregation in the city of Milwaukee that have create a great deal of division within the city, you have the loss of manufacturing jobs, which devastated many parts of the central city, which we're still struggling to kind of find how we get past that...it's an ongoing issue, but we have to actually take concrete steps and not just have conversations about it.

Watch the entire program:

Or, listen: