Project Milwaukee

Springing from conversations with concerned community members, WUWM journalists developed Project Milwaukee -- in-depth reporting on vital issues in the region. Each Project Milwaukee consists of WUWM News reporters and Lake Effect producers teaming up to create a series of interviews and reports on a specific topic culminating in a public forum or live broadcast.

WUWM tackles subjects of importance to southeastern Wisconsin by focusing on issues that warrant extensive coverage. The topics chosen are based on concerns we've heard from residents and community leaders.

WUWM hopes that our coverage helps to further the understanding of broad, significant subjects, and encourages additional debate in the community.

WUWM's Project Milwaukee. Our region. Our future.

What topic should WUWM explore next?

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PROJECT MILWAUKEE SERIES ARCHIVE

Segregation Matters - March 2017

Innovation - How Do We Compete? - February 2016

Black Men in Prison - November 2013
Why are so many Wisconsinites behind bars? And, what are the costs?

Power Switch - June 2013
The Promise and Reality of Green Energy in Wisconsin

Help Wanted - October 2012
Uncovering the Truth Behind Wisconsin's Skills Gap

State of Upheaval - December 2011

Southern Connections - June 2011
Cultivating a Regional Corridor

What's On Our Plate? - November 2010
The Impact of Wisconsin's Food Economy

Barriers to Achievement in MPS - June 2010

The Currency of Water - December 2009

Black & White - June 2009
Race Relations in Milwaukee

Wise Today, Well Tomorrow? - November 2008

Youth Violence - June 2008

Creating a Vibrant Regional Economy - November 2007

Courtesy of The Milwaukee Journal

Segregation in metro Milwaukee can be traced back, in part, to discriminatory housing practices like redlining and racial restrictive covenants. During the Civil Rights movement, there was large-scale pushback against such practices.

What can I do to help decrease segregation? What is being done to alleviate the problem? What can we do to change how segregated metro Milwaukee is?

During WUWM's series, Project Milwaukee: Segregation Matters, the most common questions we received from YOU regarding segregation dealt with solutions.

Solving this issue will not be easy. However, several ways to help reduce segregation in metro Milwaukee did emerge during our coverage.

ART MONTES

It can be uncomfortable to discuss race relations. Discussions may be particularly minimal, in a region as segregated as metro Milwaukee. The group Ex Fabula relies on storytelling to make inroads. It invites its fellows to share personal tales about prejudice and misunderstandings.

A Milwaukee Judge's Perspective on Segregation

Mar 10, 2017
Andy Dean / Fotolia

Merriam-Webster defines the word “segregate” in two ways: “to separate or set apart from others or from the general mass,” and “to cause or force the separation of (as from the rest of society).” It defines “segregation” as the act of segregating; it gives a secondary definition of “segregation” as “the separation or isolation of a race, class or ethnic group by enforced of voluntary residence in a restricted area . . . .”

Susan Bence

WUWM has been taking a comprehensive look at some of the many issues caused by segregation in Milwaukee through our series, ​Project Milwaukee: Segregation MattersBetween reports on WUWM news and interviews on Lake Effect, we have looked at how segregation can be quantified, how it's perpetuated, and its costs and effects on the community.

Pat Rabinson

Milwaukee Water Commons was created four years ago to educate the community about water - its rivers, streams and Lake Michigan - to cultivate informed stewards.

“I came from a more traditional environmental effort, which was the Milwaukee River Greenway Coalition – working to make the river more beautiful, more accessible. There was already a ton of passion around that issue, but it was by and large a middle class and white group of people,” founder Ann Brummitt says.

David Flowers

Milwaukee native Davita Flowers-Shanklin brings a unique experience to the discussion of segregation, and its ripple effects.

“I remember being in high school and being really into science and biology. I was the co-director of Camp Everytown, which is a diversity camp for teenagers," Flowers-Shanklin says. "So my work even as a teenager was around anti-oppression."

Michelle Maternowski

Segregation comes with borders, whether they are manmade - 124th Street, the dividing line between Milwaukee and Waukesha counties, or natural - the Milwaukee River. Today, WUWM reports on one particular border, and how some people feel about crossing it.

Metro Milwaukee has a segregation problem. It's an issue prominently on display within area schools.

Some say, school segregation in Milwaukee as bad today as it was 60 years ago, at the height of the Civil Rights era.

How did we get here? Let’s take a look back...

Courtesy of UWM, David Pate

The road to modern segregation has been a long one. "There's been 350 years of segregation in our country that was perpetuated by the government as well as by the social norms, based on race in particular," says David Pate

Pate studies the complex causes, effects and potential solutions of segregation in his role as an associate professor of social work at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at UW-Milwaukee. He says that after centuries of segregation, it's become normalized.  

Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library

Poverty is entrenched in some of Milwaukee's mainly black neighborhoods. People studying the issue say financial struggles piled up as employers left. So they say change only will come when more people are put to work, in family-supporting jobs.

Decades of racist policies and attitudes have led to entrenched segregation in metro Milwaukee. African-Americans remain concentrated in the city, including in its poorest neighborhoods.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Segregation impacts many different areas of our lives in metro Milwaukee. One that may not be top of mind is its connection to environmental health and justice. WUWM found an intricate tapestry of challenge and hope -- starting with Antoine Carter.

His childhood started on East Chambers in Milwaukee.

“I remember drugs and gangs and outdoor football and people getting jumped and all sorts of stuff. Just living in this area in the 1990s, I was a little too young to understand everything that was going on, but I still could see that things weren’t right,” Carter says.

Joseph Ellwanger

For clergyman Joseph Ellwanger, the battle to end racial injustices across the U.S. involved overseeing the desegregation of the pews of his church.

Ellwanger is pastor emeritus of the Cross Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. During his stewardship, from 1967 to 2001, Cross Lutheran evolved from a predominately white congregation to an integrated one.

UWM Students Talk About Race and Segregation

Mar 7, 2017
Micaela Martin

UWM students Sydney Lee and Dwayne Lee – not related, are both black and grew up on Milwaukee’s North Side.

JFXie, flickr

Several reasons emerge as to why people in metro Milwaukee live in either segregated or integrated neighborhoods in what is the most racially segregated metro area in the country. Sometimes people have a choice, other times they do not. And one statistic sets this area apart from all others, according to UWM researcher Marc Levine - the rate of affluent African-Americans opting to live in neighborhoods saturated with poverty.

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