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For years, the Milwaukee metro area has had a reputation as one of the most segregated in the United States.How did this complex problem come about, and why does it endure? How does it contribute to persistent poverty? Are there ways to break through the boundaries?WUWM seeks answers to those questions in our Project Milwaukee: Segregation Matters series.

Book Highlights Sherman Park's Push for Diversity

The History Press

Milwaukee is one of, if not, the most segregated city in the country - according to varying accounts. A report released last month by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation says the city is the most segregated among 15 similar areas.  But the study also notes that Milwaukee is 6th out of those regions for diversity.

While the city as a whole works to improve the mixing of cultures, there's one West Side neighborhood that's stood out for such efforts for decades.

Sherman Park, bordered by 35th and 60th Streets and North Ave and Capitol Drive, has long been held as a beacon of racial diversity in the city - even if that's relative compared with the city's broad divide.  Of course, this integration, however imperfect, didn't come without challenges, a bit of serendipity and a lot of hard work on the part of its residents.

In the 1960s, as the city and country's racial tensions were running high, the neighborhood's residents began organizing - and later turned the Sherman Park Community Association into a force to be reckoned with.

Author Paul Geenan, a former Sherman Park resident himself, captures these stories in the new history of the neighborhood, Sherman Park: A Legacy of Diversity in Milwaukee.

"If America looked like Sherman Park, we would be in a better place, because it’s a dynamic of people of multiple cultures, problem-solving, and creating really creative solutions," he says.

Geenan is a former president of the Sherman Park Community Association. A retired entrepreneur, grandfather and community activist, Geenan has also written Schuster's and Gimbels: Milwaukee's Beloved Department Stores, and Milwaukee's Bronzeville: 1900-1950.