Minority Leaders Reflect On State Of Civil Rights In Wisconsin

Wednesday Marks 50 Years Since Civil Rights Act Was Signed Into Law


Minority leaders in Wisconsin say there’s been some progress on Civil Rights, since the Civil Rights Act was signed 50 years ago Wednesday. Those leaders also say there’s a long way to go, before there’s true equality.

More minorities and women have been elected to public office and have held leadership positions since the summer of 1964. But James Hall of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People told a U.S. Justice Department forum in Milwaukee that not all people of color have done so well. Hall said some young African-American families in Wisconsin would be better off living in Mississippi.

“Test scores for black children are better in Mississippi,” said Hall. “Milwaukee’s unemployment rate is much worse generally than in Mississippi. And certainly kids would have a higher chance of being incarcerated here.”

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Some Latino leaders also say they have concerns about the lack of equality — including the financial gap between the rich and poor. Tony Baez of Centro Hispano in Milwaukee said wealth disparity can show up in courtrooms.

“You can hire lawyers that can do a better job than other … lawyers can,” said Baez. “There’s some crooks on Wall Street that are still walking the streets, while there is some poor devil in the prison system in Wisconsin who may have been caught with half a marijuana cigarette in his pocket.”

U.S. Attorney James Santelle in Milwaukee said he’s committed to promoting the purposes and goals of the Civil Rights Act.