MU Student Protests at the Eagles Club
Backstory and Context
The Eagles Club of Milwaukee, located on 24th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, is a well-known venue for music and entertainment. The Fraternal Order of The Eagles built the facility in 1927 and operated it as a lodge, while also renting it out to various outside organizations for events. However, the Eagles organization employed a policy of racial segregation—only whites were allowed to join. By the 1960s, this policy sparked anger and backlash among some students and faculty at Marquette, which had utilized the facility for dances and other events in the past. The building became the center of a wider struggle that embodied the 1960s spirit of unrest and change. The Eagles Club suddenly found itself as the focal point of campus racial struggles and protests.
Protests had taken place all over the nation in the mid-1960s in reaction to the war in Vietnam and racial segregation. Marquette’s Jesuit commitment to social justice encouraged many of its students to be passionate about racial equality. As a result, Marquette found itself at the center of the protest movements happening all over the country. In 1966, some Marquette-students focused their anger at the policies of segregation of The Eagles Club. Students began picketing dances hosted by various on campus groups and organizations. Student protesters were joined by clergy and faculty affiliated with the University. Although the University called the protests “unwarranted,” they failed to take disciplinary action against the students. The protests and actions taken against the Eagles Club were just one of many calls for racial equality. Protesters also held vigils and picketed at the home of a local judge named Christopher Seraphin, who defended the Eagles Club. Students demanded that action be taken, and changes be made. club ‘Students United for Racial Equality were the primary organizers.
In 1967, a student run committee on student life passed a resolution banning the use of the Eagles Club by student organizations. Later that year, that same committee felt that the previous bill was too narrow in scope and passed another resolution that banned the use of any facility with a discriminatory racial policy.
the time, the Fraternal Order of the Eagle—the organization enforcing the racial
policy—refused to change or meet with NAACP members. However, the racial policy
was disbanded in the late 1970s, and in 1988, the Order elected its first black
president. The Eagles Club was later sold in 1992 and is now known as the Rave/Eagles
Club. Now, it primarily operates as a music hall and hosts renowned artists
from across the world.
Milwaukee Journal. Oct 16 1967. Marquette University Archives.
National Catholic Reporter. December 16, 1966. Marquette University Archives.