Simone’s reflection on her interview with the original marchers
Speaking with Shirley, Prentice, and Fred helped me learn that I wasn’t alone. I learned that many other people feel like and have felt like they don’t belong somewhere simply because of the color of their skin, how they talk, what type of hair they have, or what they believe in. At times, I used to think that I was the only one who thought this way and that I was the only one going through this.
Shirley, Prentice, and Fred were treated differently and not able to have different rights, do certain things, or live certain places because they were black. And then there were people like Father Groppi who weren’t black but stood alongside them and was kind of in between the different categories that existed. They were all fighting for equality, regardless of race. I can relate that to how I feel, because since I’m mixed race, I don’t have to pick just one category to fall into. I should be able to be how I am most comfortable.
Everybody should be able to be comfortable in their own skin. It doesn’t matter what race you are, in the sense that that shouldn’t determine where you so-called belong, or where you should be able to feel free.
It was a real eye-opener for me to find out that many others have been feeling this way for over 50 years now. This very same thing brought me more hope of finding out who I am and where I fit in in this city and in our world.
Still in Milwaukee today, people of different races, religions, and other categories are not seen as equal. It really is segregated here, even in the schools. I do believe this segregation is a part of our lives whether we want it to be or not. Even if you don’t let the segregation and racism affect how you treat other people, other people will still base their decisions about you on your race or nationality. I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to understand why this is the case, but I do feel like it is not right.
Knowing that I’m able to say that I’ve met and learned about people who marched for equality 50 years ago makes me feel confused. I feel this way because no one can tell me why people are still labeled and judged by the color of their skin, the way they may talk, the way that they dress, or by the way they learn new things. I’m aware that a lot of things have improved compared to the way they were back then to now, but we still have a lot to work on.
I just want my peers and other youth to know that we have a voice, and that voice has been with us before we were even born. Our past should be one of the biggest tools used for learning what should and should not be happening in our present now. We need to remember that what we make of our present will determine our future.
Pilar’s reflection on her interview with the original marchers
After talking with Prentice, Fred, and Dr. Shirley I got a chance to visualize their experiences and the experiences of many people like them during the Civil Rights movement. In middle school I learned about the Civil Rights Movement in the South and that the South was the only place of civil rights issues. But after talking with these activists and doing research, I soon realized the problems were in the North as well.
One thing that I found inspirational was the bravery all of them had. It takes a lot to continue fighting when law enforcement and government are against you. There were literally police officers following them home and harassing them. They still continued to march when people threw rocks and bottles at them; they still marched. Standing up for what is right and just is a hard thing to do.
I learned that you have to keep marching for the issues that affect you until you see a change. That’s the only way you can see a difference being made. And I believe my peers can learn from them too that we can’t back down with issues that are important to us. If you stop marching you won’t see a change. Everything will remain the same unless you do something to change it.
Vondell’s reflection on his conversation with Monique
Monique has something going on, especially with her work with the dignity of the black male. People wanted to fight for change, and not just by going to events where other people talk, but actually showing that they wanted change and doing different things that could help out.
She seemed like a really progressive person, looking toward the future. She seemed that she wanted to, that she visualized Milwaukee as a better place already. When I asked her about how she saw Milwaukee in the future, she said she already saw it changing, and that’s why I liked her attitude.
I think Monique meant that she could already see things or visualize some things turning out for the better, and it’s important that she thinks that way, so her mind doesn’t get stuck in the gutter, in the negativity in the city, so her brain won’t get stuck in anything bad. She won’t have a bad outlook on the city. She always looks in the positive aspects.
I’m sort of a person who deals with the reality of things, and I focus on the reality of things. If I see that something is wrong in the city, I’m going to point it out. I’m not just going to turn my cheek to it. I’m not gonna ignore it. I’m not going to act like it’s not happening, because there are many horrible things happening in this city, such as murder, segregation, racism, and to be honest with you, I don’t think that racism is going to ever end. As much as you want to look at it in a positive way, it’s not going to stop.
People have stereotypes. There will alway people who judge other people off of stereotypes. There are stereotypes that will continually be passed on throughout generations. I mean, you can try to change that, but there will always be that one person who will think this way about a certain race based on what they’ve heard or what they’ve seen on social media or from a small group of people.
Maybe those stereotypes can be changed. And by now, to be honest, they should, because they’re getting really played out. Somebody’s gotta step up, and I think Monique is a great example of someone who is.