Kept from Prosperity| The Black Reality in Milwaukee, WI

Updated: Jul 13, 2019


Milwaukee, WI: Prior to a referendum vote on the city's minority business ordinance with the Common Council in the year 1987, a pamphlet entitled "How to Evade Affirmative Action Programs …. Or, How to Drive Compliance Officers Off Their Rockers," was circulating throughout the ranks of city government. The pamphlet purported to offer advice to non-minority companies who were looking to "...do everything in their power to frustrate...” minority inclusion programs.


At the time, Milwaukee corporate leaders were ordered to “procrastinate like hell” when dealing with qualified minority applicants, and to frustrate minority applicants by creating hardship at every level.


Today, and thirty years after distributing the pamphlet to the Common Council, the systemic exclusion of Milwaukee blacks from prosperity has worked beautifully. The local black community has been economically annihilated and excluded from the $112.3 billion dollars that flowed through the greater Milwaukee region in 2017.


According to Fortune magazine, Milwaukee-based firms reported revenues that were astronomical:

  • Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., Milwaukee, $29.3 billion

  • ManpowerGroup, Milwaukee, $21 billion

  • Kohl’s Corp., Menomonee Falls, $19.1 billion

  • WEC Energy Group, Milwaukee, $7.6 billion

  • Rockwell Automation Inc., Milwaukee, $6.3 billion

  • Fiserv Inc., Brookfield, $5.7 billion

  • Harley-Davidson Inc., Milwaukee, $5.6 billion

  • Quad/Graphics Inc., Sussex, $4.1 billion

  • Snap-on Inc., Kenosha, $4 billion

  • A.O. Smith Corp., Milwaukee, $3 billion

  • Gardner Denver Holdings Inc., Milwaukee, $2.4 billion

  • REV Group Inc., Milwaukee, $2.3 billion

  • Rexnord Corp., Milwaukee, $1.9 billion

Even though billions and billions of dollars flow into the Milwaukee region, these dollars are not being shared with Milwaukee’s black community. The median household income for blacks in Milwaukee was $25,600 compared to $62,600 for whites.

Left riddled with crime, poor education, and medical disparities, Milwaukee’s black community is forced to function in extreme poverty while an overwhelming population of white Milwaukeeans enjoy billions and billions of horded prosperity.


To add insult to injury, local corporate or government leaders claim to be actively looking for diverse (black) talent to fill high-paying jobs, however, these leaders cannot find qualified candidates. We now know that this rhetoric is merely part of Milwaukee's effort to frustrate minority candidates and create non-discriminatory reasons to exclude them.


With more than $112 billion dollars in revenue flowing through the region and the systemic exclusion of Milwaukee’s black community can only be seen as despicable if not somehow predictable considering Milwaukee largely German roots.


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