2023 Fromkin Grant Recipients to Study the Black Middle Class in Milwaukee

Ermitte Saint Jacques

A project that “examines how middle class and affluent African Americans in the Milwaukee metropolitan area manage the major social and economic problems confronting the region and the strategies they employ to overcome them” has been awarded the UWM Libraries’ 2023 Morris Fromkin Memorial Grant and Lecture.

The winning proposal – “Living for the City: The Black Middle Class in Milwaukee” – was submitted by Ermitte Saint Jacques, assistant professor in UWM’s Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. Her collaborator on the project is Robert Smith, director of the Center for Urban Research, Teaching & Outreach and associate professor in the Department of History at Marquette University.

Their study, Saint Jacques writes in her proposal, “challenges the Black narrative of Milwaukee that has focused on social pathology by providing an alternative representation that has largely remained invisible in both scholarship and media.”

The heart of the project is a collection of in-depth interviews that will become a public archive serving to change the narrative of Black Milwaukee and make the research accessible to the African American community in the city.

Saint Jacques and Smith will present the results of their research at the Morris Fromkin Memorial Lecture lecture in fall 2023.

Established by Morris Fromkin’s family and supported by an endowment from Fromkin’s grandson, Daniel Soyer, the lecture series, which is dedicated to social justice, is the longest running lecture series on campus.

The 2023 Fromkin Research Grant selection committee included Rachel Baum, Michael Doylen, Stuart Moulthrop, Richard Popp, Shevaun Watson, and Max Yela.