About VBM

The VBM digital project highlights the spatial dimensions of African American life in Milwaukee during the 1950s and 1960s. Heavy African American migration during the post-World War II period, coupled with segregation and racial discrimination, cemented Milwaukee’s racial boundaries, such that by the 1950s an African American enclave had developed within Milwaukee’s central city. While scholars have researched the development of “Black Milwaukee” as well as civil rights activism in the city, none have used digital and spatial tools to analyze life for African American Milwaukeeans during this period. A spatial analysis of life for African Americans during this period offers an opportunity to visualize the historical conditions that contributed to Milwaukee’s tumultuous civil rights period, which occurred during the late 1960s.

VBM explores offers many different answers for the following, main question: What was the spatial reality for African Americans in the city of Milwaukee during the 1950s and 1960s?

VMB also tends the following questions:

  • What was life like for everyday African Americans in Milwaukee, WI?
  • Where did they work, live, shop, eat, pray, and play?
  • What political, economic, cultural and social institutions did African American Milwaukeeans develop and what impact did these institutions have on the African American community?
  • In what ways did gender impact the community’s spatial development? Were there gender-exclusive spaces within the African American community? If so, what was their impact on the community?
  • Who were important community leaders in the African American community during this time and what was their impact?

Visualizing Black Milwaukee, 1950-1964 deepens our understanding of the lives of Black Milwaukeeans and illuminates the context from which Milwaukee’s civil rights movement sprang.