The Eagles Club is a private owned facility that has been popular with Marquette students for decades. It has been utilized as a space to host dances and similar events, and is now known as a concert Hall. However, in the 1960s, it was the center of racial protests on campus.
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.
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
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.