Little Known Black History Fact: Milwaukee’s Own Claretta Simpson, Community Activist

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She fought the unemployment practices of major chains like Sears, J.C. Penney and Gimbles department stores. Her biggest fight was with dime stores and the unfair practices of Woolworth. She helped to bring the first black employee to the chain that carried the stigma of lunch counter segregation nationwide.

Tragedy struck Simpson’s family when her granddaughter Cheryl, and 9-year-old great granddaughter, “Little Jeannetta,” were murdered in 1984. Then, in August 2005, Claretta “Mother Freedom” Simpson passed away. She was well over 100 years old. Simpson’s daughter, Jeannetta Robinson, followed in passing in 2008. She died while serving the community, as taught by her mother.

On August 4, 2004, the city of Milwaukee named the 2900 block of North 10th street “North Mother Simpson Way,” to honor the mother of so many in Milwaukee.

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