Violet Young walks briskly down North Richards Street dressed almost entirely in purple, a plastic bag in each hand. Exuberant and cheerful, even the below-freezing temperatures can’t dampen her spirits. “You should see what it looks like in summer,” she says, gesturing to a nearby corner park with fruit trees and a small shelter. “It’s beautiful.”
Amy Tim stands in front of a stoop in Harambee with a couple of her kids nearby. Tim, who grew up on Milwaukee’s northwest side, has been in-between two worlds for as long as she can remember. “I struggled … growin’ up because my mother was African-American and I’m bi-racial,” she says. “Bein’ a bi-racial child, it was hard for me.” Amy calls it “difficult” and “complicated” growing up in Black neighborhoods with her mother. “I’ve never been accepted by either black or white people,” she says. For a long time, Tim let that get to her. Eventually, though, she decided she had to do something to make the situation better. “I just had to endure the pain myself,” says Amy. “I just had to be like, ‘Okay, I gotta live with it.’ I can’t change it.” “You have to accept who you are to … grow and become the person you want to [be],” she says.“You can’t worry about what other people think.” Community-focused. Community-funded. Become a member today. While she was still in …
Michael Stephens sits in a wheelchair near the corner of Achilles and Auer streets in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. These days, Stephens doesn’t have either of his legs, but that doesn’t seem to trouble him, too much. “[I] live day by day,” he says. “Whatever happens, good or bad, [I’ll] deal with it, like I’ve always done.”
Pookie (pseudonym) walks briskly down W. Chambers St. at the south end of Clinton Rose Park as the sun begins to set on Juneteenth Day. A gaggle of Milwaukee police turn down a nearby alleyway but Pookie walks on, un-phased. “Born and raised here, right here on the east side,” he says. “I didn’t have no momma — momma was a crackhead — so, you know what I’m sayin’, I sold drugs.”
Darlene Rogers gracefully covers a stretch of sidewalk pavement followed by a brightly colored, flowing dress, the Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Juneteenth Day celebration behind her. Rogers who grew up in the neighborhood points down the block to the house where she lived. “I haven’t been down here in a couple years so it was nice to come out and see familiar faces,” she says calling the occasion “an out-of-body experience.” “It’s like the cycle just keeps repeatin’ itself.”
Dave Wroten lounges against a concrete sidewalk border on West Chambers Street in the waning hours of Juneteenth Day. The 54-year-old Wroten remembers a time when things in Milwaukee, where he was “born and raised,” were different. Wroten grew up on 10th and Locust. “It was beautiful,” he says. “That’s when black people actually had black establishments and, you know, you neighbor was your lawyer … That’s when black people knew black people.”
Aaron Wood sits in an alley near 2nd and Ring, just outside his garage, working on a friend’s car. Doing bodywork and car interiors are just a couple of Wood’s many hobbies. But, when it comes to work, when it comes to paying the bills, Wood found something that worked and stayed with it. “I’ve been at the company I’m at now…for like 16 years,” he says.