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WUWM's Teran Powell reports on race and ethnicity in southeastern Wisconsin.

Signs at Milwaukee's former Lindbergh Park now officially bear Lucille Berrien's name

Berrien Park in Milwaukee
Teran Powell
Lucille Barrien (center) smiles with her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren under the new park sign at the public unveiling.

Updated Thursday, October 25 at 9:30 a.m. CDT

On Saturday, dozens of supporters, families and friends, gathered at Berrien Park for the public unveiling of the Milwaukee County Parks sign with the new name.

People who know Berrien personally, including some elected officials, shared stories of Berrien, and praised her for her years of activism in Milwaukee, saying how deserving of the honor she is.

"I just want to thank everyone who is out here and those that are not out here," Berrien said through a bullhorn. "I never expected this, but I'm proud to have it and I'm thankful that this park will be named after me."

Back in April, some Milwaukee residents gathered at Lindbergh Park and campaigned to change the name of the park in the Arlington Heights neighborhood to Lucille Berrien Park. In June, their efforts paid off when the Milwaukee County Board voted unanimously to rename the park after Berrien.

The Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression hosted the April press conference at the park with Ms. Berrien in attendance to demand the park be named in her honor, and that the money used to make the changes come from the Milwaukee County Sheriff Office’s overtime budget.

The Milwaukee Alliance focuses on ending police misconduct, prison profiteering, racist political repression and economic injustice.

Lauryn Cross is the organization’s co-chair. “We’ve known for a long time as activists, as people in the community that well-maintained parks and well-maintained outlets for people in the community can help take down crime in the community. If people have resources, people can live healthier lives, and act better in their own neighborhoods and communities. So, that’s what we hope to do here,” she said.

Cross said petition responses show around 60% of residents in the area of Lindbergh Park support changing its name to honor Lucille Berrien. She added that one of the demands of the National Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression is for healthier communities and more resources for Black and brown people.

Barrien’s history of activism in Milwaukee shows that, that is what she has always stood for. Barrien, who is 93-years-old, is a former member of the Black Panther Party. She was the first Black woman to run for mayor of Milwaukee, she marched with Father James Groppi during the Open Housing Marches and the Welfare Mother’s March and she has fostered more than 100 kids in her life.

Barrien sat smiling in her wheelchair as speakers congratulated her for what they called a well-deserved honor.

“Glad y’all invited me out. Happy to be here with you; wish it was more, I wish the place was full, but you can’t always get what you want in the beginning. Don’t give up though, just keeping coming back and bring somebody with you when you come. Our children need us more now than they have in their life, and if we don’t serve ‘em nobody will,” she said.

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Teran is WUWM's race & ethnicity reporter.
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