All posts tagged: Riverside University High School

“I’m a black man in a white world”

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.”

“There ain’t nothin’ out here in the streets”

Lennis L. McDuffie smokes a square on the steps of an apartment building at the corner of 14th and Burleigh. The 63-year old stands out in his oversized coat, faux fur-lined hood and flat-brimmed hat. But, despite his city-like sense of style, McDuffie’s heart is in the Arkansas woods where he spent his early years. “I went down there every summer,” says McDuffie of his grandmother’s place, about 50 miles outside El Dorado, a city of almost 19,000, where he was born. “They would have to pry me outta there.”

“I don’t have a whole lot of money”

Preston Jones smokes a cigarette outside the Milwaukee Rescue Mission on W. Wells Street in the Marquette neighborhood. Expelling the smoke seems like a sacred ritual for Jones — he opens his mouth in a long “o” shape, exposing his slender, yellow-stained teeth, before breathing out. Jones was “born and raised right here in Milwaukee” and, for the most part, hasn’t left. “I done been to Chicago before, I done been to Holly Springs, Mississippi, before — only one time to each one of them,” he says, though you wouldn’t know from hearing him talk — his voice is loud with a hint of southern drawl.