6 Places of Black History in Milwaukee

By VISIT Milwaukee

Wisconsin Black Historical Society

The mission of the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum is to document and preserve the historical heritage of African descent in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum (WBHS/M) located on the corners of North 27th and West Center Streets opened its door and its heart to the community, city, and state in 1987. 

America's Black Holocaust Museum

America's Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM), located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a memorial museum dedicated to the history of the Black Holocaust in America. It was founded in 1988 by James Cameron, who became well known to have survived a lynching.

New America's Black Holocaust Museum, 401 W. North Ave. MKE The new ABHM, which is scheduled to open fall 2019, is located on the ground floor of the newly built Griot building at 401 W. North Ave., Milwaukee. The Griot Building was named for Cameron; "griot" is a West African term for an oral historian and news-bringer.

Kilbourn Avenue

Kilbourn Avenue, named for one of the European founders of Milwaukee, has two locations with historical significance to Milwaukee’s African-American community. The first is in Cathedral Square, near Kilbourn Avenue and Jackson Street. It’s there that escaped slave Joshua Glover was freed by a group of Milwaukeeans from a county jail, where he’d been held in captivity after being arrested in Racine. The second location is the site of the first African-American church in Wisconsin, near Kilbourn and 4th Street. 

Dietz home / Casablanca Hotel

In the Harambee neighborhood on Palmer Street sits an ornate brick and stucco home originally built in 1905 as a single family home for harness maker Adam Dietz. Just a few decades later, it would serve as the Casablanca Hotel and house touring Black jazz artists who weren’t allowed to stay at the city’s other hotels. Guests of the Casablanca Hotel included  Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday.

Joshua Glover Marker

A Wisconsin Historical Marker at Cathedral Square Park in Milwaukee marks the site of the original court house and jail where Joshua Glover was imprisoned by federal marshals, and later rescued by a mob of 5,000 people. Efforts are underway to create a park monument which meets the National Park Service's requirements for an official National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site.

Kilbourn State Bank Building

Located between the Sherman Park and Park West neighborhoods, the Kilbourn State Bank Building housed the first African-American owned bank in the state of Wisconsin. Today it is home to BRIC, a coworking space that seeks to  create a community of business professionals, entrepreneurs, and creatives that collaborate to push forward economic development in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods.

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