Growing up in a legally segregated Milwaukee, Larry Hicks didn’t give a second thought to certain realities until he was older.
Bessie Jeter leisurely drags on a cigarette while standing on the porch of her longtime home on the 3700 block of North 2nd Street. She wasn’t born in Milwaukee but she’s been here for more than forty years. “I was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi,” she says. “It wasn’t bad. I grew up, I learned how to work hard, I picked and chopped cotton until I was 18 years of age and I left home when I graduated from high school.”
Primitivo Cortes sits on a short brick wall that frames the garden next to his home in Walker’s Point. Cortes, 60, smokes a cigarette in his work uniform, a collared, grey shirt that displays his first name. Primitivo was born in Mexico but came to Milwaukee in 1994. “Better opportunities, better jobs.” he says. “In Mexico the situation is terrible.”
This story is part of a series focusing on the 30th Street Industrial & Economic Corridor. Robert Stewart stands outside his garage on a dead-end street in Franklin Heights. Steward says he ended up in Milwaukee because of family and the chance to get a good job. “I kind of followed my mother here – she lived up here; I was livin’ in Missouri. [The city] seemed like it had good opportunities back then.”