Thursday, September 28
Location: Meet at the west parking lot of The Sigma Group at 1300 W. Canal St.
The Menomonee Valley was the physical barrier that marked the divide between Milwaukee’s black and white communities, often referred to as “Milwaukee’s Mason Dixon line.” In 1967, the first of the civil rights marches crossed the Menomonee Valley’s 16th Street Viaduct in protest of racial discrimination and housing segregation. In honor of 200 Nights of Freedom, Melissa Cook, Hank Aaron State Trail Manager, will provide a free tour to share the important history of Milwaukee’s civil rights marches and the murals that honor marchers along the Hank Aaron State Trail Menomonee River Loop.
Civil rights murals were completed by schoolchildren from 10 schools on both the south side and north side to help them learn about the marches and the history of our community. Benches along the trail were painted by children of various ethnic backgrounds on the theme of diversity and what it means today.
You’ll also learn about other artwork along the trail, including “A Place to Sit” by Katie Martin. In 2007, a juried competition selected artist Katie Martin's A Place to Sit to develop an enticing entry and gateway sculpture for the River Loop Trail segment between 13th and 25th and Canal Street. Using a quote from local historian John Gurda who characterized European settlement in Milwaukee as a wild "game of musical chairs" leaving the Indians with "nowhere to sit," Katie offers three high-backed chairs engraved with the names of tribes who made Milwaukee their home.
The creation of the Hank Aaron State Trail along the Menomonee River and through the former industrial valley, and divide in our community, contributes countless opportunities for recreation and fitness, improvements to the environment, economic growth, and overall quality of urban life. It is a place where everyone is welcome and provides both connections and alternative transportation options. The Trail starts at Lakeshore State Park near the Henry W. Maier Festival Grounds, winds its way through the Historic Third Ward and Menomonee River Valley, past Miller Park, and then points west by accessing the new bridge at 37th St. The Trail links to Milwaukee County's 100-mile Oak Leaf Trail at both its east and west end.
Access a trail map at the Friends of Hank Aaron State Trail website.