WASHINGTON - June 10 - "In choosing Milwaukee, Wisconsin as the site for Forward 2004!, the Green National Convention, Greens have placed America's great history of progressive parties in the spotlight," said Ruth Weill, Wisconsin delegate to the Green Party of the United States.
The national committee of the Green Party selected Milwaukee, a city noted for its progressive history, values, and strong working class, as the convention location with the encouragement of recently retired Alderperson Don Richards and Social Development Commissioner Robert Miranda, both Greens, and national party co-chair Ben Manski. The convention will take place June 23-28 at the Midwest Center and the Milwaukee Hyatt Regency.
"Too many Americans believe that the two-party system has been the rule from the beginning of time," noted Illinois Green Charles Shaw. "Too few Americans know that, thanks to third parties throughout U.S. history, working people have a work week limited to 40 hours and enjoy good wages and benefits, child labor is outlawed, and women have the right to vote. The Black Panther Party, Peace & Freedom Party, and various socialist parties provided much of the organization and drive behind the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements."
"One third party, founded in Wisconsin and dedicated to the abolition of slavery in the 1850s, even became a major party -- the Republican Party. We see the Greens similarly establishing themselves as the party of the 21st century, uniquely dedicated to principles of ecology, peace, justice, and the rights of humans instead of corporations. It's why we've titled our convention 'Forward 2004!"
Several important progressive parties have had roots in Wisconsin:
-- The Republican Party was founded as an abolitionist, pro-suffrage party in Ripon, Wisconsin in the 1850s.
-- The Progressive Party, founded in Wisconsin had its heyday under the leadership of Fighting Bob and Belle La Follette; Theodore Roosevelt was nominated as the Progressive Party's national candidate in 1912 at the very spot where the Green convention is taking place.
-- The North American Green movement was co-founded by Anishinabe (Chippewa) leader Walter Bresette, a Red Cliff, Wisconsin activist.
-- Milwaukee served as home to three generations of Socialist Party elected officials, ending in 1956 with the completion of Frank Zeidler's last term as Mayor. Zeidler still lives in Milwaukee and will speak at the Green convention.
Wisconsin has also led the nation in promoting and affirming human rights. The celebration of May Day as workers' day around the world first began with a labor march in Bay View, a Milwaukee neighborhood. Southeast Wisconsin's opposition to slavery and to the Fugitive Slave Act propelled the state's abolitionist secession movement and the Republican Party, which won support in the governor's office and the state legislature.
Wisconsinites of the 20th century founded such organizations as the National Organization for Women, United States Student Association, National Education Association, Sierra Club, AFSCME, and many others.