The UW-Milwaukee Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute: A Community Movement for Educational Access
Toni Terese Johns, PhD Candidate
Urban Studies, UW-Milwaukee
In the late 1960s, Latino and Chicano community leaders developed a movement for educational access at UW-Milwaukee. Through the resources provided by non-profit organizations including Milwaukee’s United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS); members of the Committee for the Education of Latin Americans (CELA) and UW-Milwaukee students successfully agitated for the creation of the Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute, which later became the Roberto Hernandez Center at UW-Milwaukee. Grassroots change was possible in part, due to funding and protections provided by the Federal Office of Economic Opportunity directly to non-profit organizations, and maximum feasibility mandates that ensured representation by the people being served.
Historical literature connecting Latino and Hispanic activism in Milwaukee and grassroots organizing at UW-Milwaukee during the late 1960s is limited. Pre-existing literature considers the role social service agencies and unions played in the development of Milwaukee’s Latino and Chicano social movements (Rodriguez, J., 2005), the evolution of Chicano activism in the Midwest (Rodriguez, M., 2014) and the importance of civil rights legislation in Milwaukee’s urban social movements during the late 1960s (Braun, M., 2001). Drawing from secondary literature, archival documents and oral history, this paper adds to the current literature by considering the impact federal civil rights legislation and the accompanying funding had on the strength of community power in Milwaukee and institutional access for Spanish speaking students at UW-Milwaukee.