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October 25, 1996 - Milwaukee Honors Hispanic Hero Cesar Chavez

By Tim R on Sep 24, 2014 9:52 AM
Painting by Manuel Acosta, Photo by Flickr user Cliff1066

On October 25, 1996, Milwaukee formally changed the name of the stretch of S. 16th Street that is now S Cesar Chavez Drive. This was the culmination of the efforts of a committee that had actively petitioned and campaigned for the Milwaukee Common Council to honor the Hispanic labor rights hero by naming something in his honor. Unsuccessful in their attempts to have South Division High School and W. Lapham Boulevard named after Cesar Chavez, the Milwaukee Common Council voted unanimously to rename the stretch of S. 16th Street on September 24, 1996.

It was a symbolic victory, the first time any Hispanic had been honored in such a way by a Wisconsin government. The aldermen at the time commented it as a way to honor and reflect the growing Hispanic population of Milwaukee, which was only around 40,000 in 1990. It definitely has been growing, as today there are over 103,000 Hispanic Milwaukeeans according to the 2010 US Census. Just remember that the street is named after the labor leader Cesar Chavez, and not the boxer Julio Cesar Chavez. If you look at the newspaper articles from the Journal Sentinel back in 1996, there was a fair amount of confusion amongst youth as to who exactly we honored by renaming the street.

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