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Milwaukee Alliance celebrates the unveiling of Lucille Berrien Park

Victory for the community
By staff |
October 29, 2021
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Life-long community activist Lucille Berrien, 93-years old
Life-long community activist Lucille Berrien, 93-years old, delivers comments to the gathered crowd at the unveiling of Berrien Park. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Milwaukee, WI – On October 23, nearly 100 community members, activists and local politicians gathered at Berrien Park for the public unveiling of the Milwaukee County Parks sign with the new name. The campaign was initiated when the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression learned about the origins of the name for Lindbergh Park and Charles Lindbergh’s proximity to the Nazis.

After months of canvassing efforts led by the Alliance that saw members going door-to-door in the predominantly Black community surrounding the park, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors in late June voted unanimously in favor of the proposition to rename the park after Lucille Berrien. Saturday’s celebration culminated the Milwaukee Alliance’s campaign to rename the park, which began in March of this year. The celebration included various speakers who commemorated Berrien’s legacy as a freedom fighter in Milwaukee.

Omar Flores, co-chair of the Milwaukee Alliance, emphasized the importance of bottom-up organizing for this campaign, and remarked how the Alliance is presently “fighting many of the same fights that were being fought in 1973, when Lucille helped found the Milwaukee Alliance.”

For many decades, Berrien actively organized in Milwaukee around campaigns for fair housing, welfare rights, women’s rights, justice for victims of police crimes, better public education, anti-war efforts and much more. Flores and other speakers linked Berrien’s history of community organizing to the importance of proper community funding.

Jacob Flom, vice president of AFSCME Local 526, represented the Milwaukee Area Labor Council and stated, “We need the funds used by the Sheriff’s Department overtime budget to be used for funding good union jobs in the community.”

Brian Verdin, member of the Milwaukee Alliance who has known Berrien for over 50 years and also an original Alliance member, recalled how “growing up in the community, everybody’s mom and dad had a job. When the corporations move jobs away, we need the city and county to step up and create good jobs and stop privatizing them.”

The October 23 celebration of Berrien Park served as a reminder of Berrien’s legacy and of the importance of the alliance between oppressed nationalities and organized labor. Berrien Park is located in the 53206 zip code, which boasts some of the highest incarceration rates of Black males in the nation and highest unemployment rates in the city. This alliance will be crucial for carrying forward Lucille Berrien’s legacy and leading the struggles against racist inequality and capitalism in Milwaukee.