Henry W. Maier was mayor of Milwaukee from 1960 until 1988. Although he was born in Dayton, Ohio, a great deal of his schooling happened in Wisconsin. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. During his term as mayor, Maier was not a popular figure in Milwaukee’s black community. He was known for having a very tense and strained relationship with local blacks. Many felt that he largely ignored the needs of the city’s impoverished black residents and kept his allegiance to those who had put him in office. Maier was also not an advocate of the Civil Rights Movement.
During the open housing marches, Maier and Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council advisor Father James Groppi were constantly at odds. On Wednesday, August 30, 1967, two days after the Youth Council’s first open housing marches to the city’s south side, Maier issued a 30-day proclamation banning all marches and demonstrations in an effort to thwart the Youth Council’s open housing marches. Despite the 200 days of demonstrating for an open housing bill, Maier still had not been moved to rally for the passing of the bill. After the assassination of famed civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., however, President Lyndon B. Johnson instructed Congress to pass a strong federal open housing law. Afterwards, Maier finally urged the Milwaukee Common Council to do the same. Maier died in 1994 at the age of 76. EM