The launch of a series of events, “200 Nights of Freedom,” marking the 50th anniversary of Milwaukee’s 1967 open housing marches, was held at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society Museum last Saturday, August 5.
A “History Harvest,” coordinated by the March on Milwaukee 50th oral history committee—which includes UWM Libraries Head of Archives Abbi Nye—offered participants in the 1967 marches the opportunity to record their stories.
Three more History Harvests are planned, one in the fall, in midwinter, and in the spring, and will focus on interviewing current civil rights activists as well as past marchers.
The ultimate goal, Nye says, is to make these interviews available online for everyone.
“We have powerful voices represented in our existing civil rights oral history collections, part of our March on Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project,” Nye says, “but we recognize that those oral histories represent only a few individuals from a particular point in time.”
“The History Harvest project is really exciting collaborative work among local archives to document voices that have not yet been heard in a way that connects our past and our present,” she says. “It seeks to listen to those involved in the 1967 events, but also to hear from people who are on the forefront of activism today.”
Nye says that the committee is taking a “two-pronged approach, setting up our own listening post stations—where oral historians will record people’s memories of the era—and offering practical conservation advice for community members eager to safeguard or better maintain their personal artifacts from the period.”
More information about 200 Nights of Freedom can be found at http://200nightsoffreedom.org/
A story about the August 5 History Harvest can be found at http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/2017/08/05/50-years-on-activists-capture-milwaukees-untold-open-housing-marches-stories/542663001/