March 25 2013
(students involved in the project include: Eric Weatherall, Gabrielle Tesfaye, James Buford, Jessika Jones, Katie Riveros, Lania Sproles, Morgan Givens, Myesha Henderson and Riangelique Perry)
"I'm an aspiring journalist, so I volunteered for this program to get a feel for what I want to do."
-Riangelique Perry, Milwaukee High School of the Arts
With funding from a Mary L. Nohl grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, students from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts teamed up with the non-profit Know Thyself for the new project Standing on Their Shoulders: Memories of Bronzeville.
Photographer Paul Calhoun lead this student-produced exhibit featuring murals, essays, photographs and recorded interviews. Memories of Bronzeville highlights the neighborhood that was the ecomonic and cultural center for Milwaukee's African-American community up to the 1960's. "It was a supportive community where many people lived that were nationally known, such as Al Jureau" says Calhoun. "The intent of the project was to interview poeple that grew up in the neighborhood and could personally recollect what that neighborhood was like."
Students interviewed and photographed a myriad of people, from jazz musicians like Adekola Adedapo to community activists like Ruben Harpo and Donald Jefferson to religious leaders Rev. Willy Brisco and Mother Scott. Large murals were painted depicting what moments in Bronzeville history may have looked like.
Learning about the neighborhood's past, helped the students not only think about present times, but how they could contribute to the future development of this area. Mother Scott runs a homeless shelter. " I was interviewing her while people were being fed" says Riangelique Perry. "I could see how she was changing lives. I live in the area so it was really interesting for me to not know anything about it, and now I feel I know what it's all about."
Though the project is no longer on display to the public at MHSA, plans for another exibition in Milwaukee are in the works.
More about Standing On Their Shoulders: Memories of Bronzeville can be found online at www.knowthyselfproject.org