Thursday, August 27, 2015

Milwaukee's Hispanic Community Commemorates 45th Anniversary Of Equal Access To Higher Education

This year marks the 45th Anniversary that the Hispanic community struggled to gain equal access to higher education by staging protests after taking over Chapman Hall in 1970.

By H. Nelson Goodson
August 27, 2015

Milwaukee, WI - On Thursday, the Milwaukee Hispanic community once again will commemorate its 45th Anniversary for the struggle to provide equal access to higher education for generations of Hispanic students in the State of Wisconsin. On August 27, 1970, the Hispanic community took over Chapman Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) after a discriminatory policy was in place to keep Hispanics from enrolling at UWM. In the Fall semester of 1970, there were only 14 Hispanic students enrolled at UWM, most of them from South and Central America compared to 25,000 students attending classes. 
For the Hispanic community, "In Milwaukee many barriers existed blocking their paths to higher education. Their language and cultural distinctness were frowned upon, and they had limited access to information about educational opportunities and few professional role models. Discriminatory treatment was the norm." (Cited from Myriad Magazine UWM 1990)
At least 500 people took it upon themselves to stand up and challenge the UWM discriminatory policy that prevented Hispanics and other minorities from enrolling at the urban university. 
Four men, Jesus Salas, Gregorio J. "Goyo" Rivera, Dante Navarro and Jose Luis Huerta-Sanchez and one woman, Marla O. Anderson were taken into custody for protesting the discriminatory policy that kept Latinos from enrolling at UWM and for refusing to leave UWM Chancellor J. Martin Klotsche's office on that August afternoon. The UWM protest began with about 150 people and within days, it grew to more than 500 people.
Klotsche refused to meet with the protesters, but after three days of hunger strikes by the protest organizers, the stalemate broke and Klotsche finally met with them.
By September 1970, UWM along with members of the Hispanic community created the Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute (SSOI) to offer academic counseling, recruit and retain potential students. The SSOI would especially serve nearly 30,000 Latinos living in the Milwaukee area.
Believe it or not, the 1970 takeover of UWM quietly faded away in the memories of those who participated and went on with their lives. After 31 years, it resurfaced again when the first comprehensive article by H. Nelson Goodson detailing the accounts was written and published in 2001. 
In 1996, the SSOI was renamed the Roberto Hernandez Center. Hernandez was one of the instrumental leaders of the UWM protests in 1970.

For full historical article: Revisiting The 1970 Hispanic Takeover At UW-Milwaukee Demanding Equal Access To Education

Video link depicting the history, including news clips of the UWM takeover, SSOI, Roberto Hernández Center at UWM and events leading to higher education for countless of Hispanics in Wisconsin:

Two page article of the UW-Milwaukee 1970 Takeover of Chapman Hall by the Hispanic community seeking higher education for Latinos at following link (PDF):

In loving Memory and Special Tribute our dearly departed leaders and community founders/activists 

• Juan V. Alvarez
• Marla O. Anderson
• Manuel Ayala
• Miguel Berry
• Danny Campos
• Raul Cano
• Camila Casarez
• Alfonso Flores
• Raul Flores
• Enriqueta Gonzalez
• Gloria Gonzalez
• Irma Guerra
• Loyd J. Guzior
• Roberto Hernández
• Pantaleon Hill
• Manuela Hill
• Mary Lou Massignani
• Mary Ann McNulty
• Genevieve Medina
• Julia Mendoza
• Dante Navarro
• Maria Ortega
• Juanita Renteria
• Francisco "Panchillo" Rodriguez
• T. Carlos "Charlie" Salas
• Dorothy Torres
• Luis Torres

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