'Remembering Bronzeville' Showcases Milwaukee's First African American Neighborhood

Nov 2, 2019

Bronzeville was one of Milwaukee’s early African American neighborhoods, and the new documentary Remembering Bronzeville showcases its people and history. The film tells the story of this resilient neighborhood through interviews and archival footage brought together by documentary filmmaker Mark Doremus and his wife, Marquette journalism professor Karen Slattery.

“I think if you go into an interview with an open heart people recognize that. Our job was to listen and learn and not put our gloss over their stories,” says Doremus. “It’s about what they remember and what they want others to remember — that’s what we tried to do as journalists.”

Due to housing segregation in the 1930s, Bronzeville was the only neighborhood in Milwaukee where African Americans were allowed to live. From restaurants and jazz clubs to other thriving black-owned small businesses, Bronzeville was once a hub of African American culture in the city. But in 1948, much of Bronzeville was torn down to make way for Interstate 43 and public housing.

The documentary was inspired by local playwright Sheri Williams Pannel's play Welcome to Bronzeville, according to Slattery. "We heard some of the stories and thought, 'Oh, wouldn't it be interesting to do the backstory?' " she recalls.

Remembering Bronzeville airs on Milwaukee PBS at the following times:

  • Sunday, Nov. 3
    10 a.m. on WMVS Channel 10
    4:09pm on WMVT Channel 36
  • Tuesday, Nov. 5
    5 p.m. on Channel 10
    6 p.m. on Channel 36
  • Sunday, Nov. 10
    4:30 p.m. on Channel 36