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View Diary: Praise Father Groppi and pass the Cheez Doodles (26 comments)

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  •  Father Groppi was so great (9+ / 0-)

    An amazing activist who drove the conservative Catholic Milwaukee leadership crazy. My mother was a liberal Catholic who marched with him several times. My conservative grandmother was not amused.

    For those who haven't heard of Father Groppi:

    In his capacity as NAACP advisor, Groppi organized an all Black male group called the Milwaukee Commandos. They were formed to help quell violence during the "Freedom Marches" and, with the NAACP Youth Council, mounted a lengthy, continuous demonstration against the city of Milwaukee on behalf of fair housing. He led these fair housing marches across the 16th Street Viaduct (since renamed in his honor) spanning the Menomonee River Valley. The half-mile wide valley was considered to be a symbolic divide for the city. Throughout this period, he received both physical and moral support from human rights activists like Dick Gregory and Martin Luther King, Jr. Though he was denigrated and arrested on numerous occasions for standing firm in his beliefs, he was instrumental in dramatizing the segregated housing situation in Milwaukee. These efforts led to enactment of an open-housing law in the city.

    On September 29, 1969, Groppi organized and led the "Welfare Mothers' March on Madison," during which over 1,000 welfare mothers marched into Wisconsin's State Assembly chamber, seizing it in protest against planned welfare cuts. Groppi and his supporters held the State Assembly chamber in a sitdown strike for 11 hours before police recovered the chamber. Cited in a bill of attainder for "contempt of the State Assembly" and sentenced to six months in jail, Groppi appealed to the federal courts which quickly reversed his conviction, with a final decision by the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Groppi that invalidated the contempt citation on notice and due process grounds.

    The bus is awesome, you guys are endlessly creative.

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