Growing up in a legally segregated Milwaukee, Larry Hicks didn’t give a second thought to certain realities until he was older.
Reunitie Harmon walks down a quiet 24th Street in Park West. Harmon’s casual appearance is consistent with the quiet confidence she projects. “I tell people: unless you hear my story, you’ll never know my struggles — that’s my thing. ‘Cause I never wear it on my face — I always wear a smile — so unless you see my struggles or you hear about it, you’ll never know about what I’m going through.”
John Branham stands at the end of a long, shaded driveway near the corner of 52nd and Villard. Branham has overcome more than a few challenges in his time; it all goes back to the dinner-table conversations his parents would conduct every night, he says. Though they struggled as a family, it was always about looking forward, and the possibilities of tomorrow. “Now that I look back over my childhood, that’s what gave me strength — bein’ optimistic,” he says. “You know, because … a wall can be built but you can go around the wall, over the wall, [or] you walk through the wall.”
Jennifer Garcia sits in the corner of her front porch on the 3300 block of South 15th Street, surrounded by family. Garcia spent much of her childhood in St. Francis, a small municipality just south of Bay View, but has seen a lot of Milwaukee, also living in West Allis, on the north and east sides of the city and attending Hamilton High School on the south side. What’s her experience been like? “Diverse,” says Garcia. “Especially, now, having kids, I want them to be diverse so it’s not like they’re just secluded with one race.”
Marilyn Radke sweeps already-cut grass into piles that litter the street in front of the place she’s called home for more than 50 years. But she didn’t grow up in Graceland. “No, no, this was probably all farmland,” says Radke. She spent most of her childhood, until she was 15, in a small flat near 27th & Lisbon.