Harold Story was a Milwaukee attorney who became involved in the issue of school desegregation. In 1963, under the leadership of Lloyd Barbee, the Wisconsin National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) publicly demanded that Milwaukee public schools be officially declared segregated by the state superintendent. In response, the Milwaukee school board created the Special Committee on Equality of Educational Opportunity to hold public hearings on the matter. The committee later became known as the Story Committee after the school board president assigned a white corporate lawyer, Harold Story, to be its chairman.
Story attempted to divide the Black community by painting Barbee as a radical who didn’t represent the views of the majority of Black Milwaukeeans. To support his strategy, Story called upon some of Milwaukee’s more moderate and established Black leaders to speak at the hearings. However, Story’s strategy backfired during a January 1964 hearing when he attempted to sit Barbee at a table separate from other civil rights representatives. Barbee refused to be isolated from the other representatives, and defiantly stormed out of the meeting. The event was widely covered in the news, and the Black community largely united in support of Barbee’s cause.
Story’s attempts to divide Milwaukee’s Black community were unsuccessful, and ultimately Barbee would form a coalition that in the following months would be named the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC). LW