Contact: Kara O’Keeffe
Milwaukee, Wis. – The Wisconsin Historical Society placed the St. Matthew Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Milwaukee, Milwaukee County on the State Register of Historic Places on February 15, 2019.
The St. Matthew Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church is significant at the state level for its associations with the Civil Rights Movement in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. From 1964 to 1967, the church served as headquarters of the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC). MUSIC conducted a direct-action campaign against, and legal challenge to, de facto segregation in Milwaukee’s public schools. MUSIC held numerous meetings and rallies at St. Matthew, and the church hosted freedom schools during school boycotts in 1964 and 1965.
The Reverend Bertram Simon (B. S.) Gregg, St. Matthew’s pastor from 1960 to 1978, took a leading role in Milwaukee civil rights actions from 1964 through 1967. In addition to serving as treasurer of MUSIC, he was a founder of the Citizens Anti-Police Brutality Committee, which held most of its meetings at St. Matthew Church. Gregg also opened the church for meetings of the NAACP, get-out-the-vote rallies, and candidate forums. MUSIC’s school integration effort, which culminated in a 1976 federal court order requiring integration, was the most important civil rights campaign in Wisconsin’s history. The MUSIC and other civil rights activities that took place at St. Matthew make it one of Wisconsin’s strongest physical links to this important period in the state’s history.
The State Register is Wisconsin’s official list of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin’s heritage. The State Historic Preservation Office at the Wisconsin Historical Society administers both the State Register and National Register in Wisconsin.
To learn more about the State and National Register programs in Wisconsin, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.