The award-winning March on Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project was relaunched this week. The updated digital collection, which provides online access to primary sources telling the story of the Milwaukee civil rights movement, has been entirely redesigned.
New content includes over 500 pages from the papers of Vel Phillips, the first woman and first African-American to serve on the Common Council, recently donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Papers shed light on Phillips’ political career, her role in the open housing campaigns, and Common Council debates. The digital collection also includes nearly two hours of WTMJ-TV news footage; twenty-eight hours of oral history interviews; and over 2,000 documents and photographs.
As context for the primary sources, the digital collection includes a full-length essay by Margaret Rozga, a participant in the 1960s civil rights movement and professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha; a list of over 60 key terms providing detailed information about significant people, places, and events; an illustrated timeline; and an interactive map showing important sites and march routes.
The digital collection supports historical understanding of civil rights movements in the North and beyond the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March and passage of the Voting Rights Bill. In the late 1960s, Milwaukee was known as the “Selma of the North” due to its hyper-segregation by race and violent attacks by counterdemonstrators against individuals fighting for social justice in employment, housing, and education.
The March on Milwaukee digital collection is a collaborative effort of the UWM Archives, the UWM Digital Collections & Initiatives, and the Wisconsin Historical Society, which owns many of the physical collections related to the civil rights movement.