Portrait of Victor Berger in 1905. From the Library of Congress Harris and Ewing Photographs Collection.

A documentary exploring Milwaukee’s socialist history is slated to premiere on public television in early June.

Beginning in 1910, Milwaukee elected three Socialist Party mayors and the first member of Congress on the Socialist Party ticket.

Milwaukee also hosted the Socialist Party of America national conventions in 1932 and 1942, while nearby Kenosha hosted a party convention in 1938.

The program was produced by award-winning former broadcast journalists Mike Gousha and Lynn Sprangers, who are married. It includes interviews with local historians, political observers, Wisconsin residents and family members of major Milwaukee socialist leaders. Also involved in producing the film were Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein, both Wisconsinites who have produced national films for PBS.

“America’s Socialist Experiment” is to premiere on PBS Wisconsin, which serves the Madison and Green Bay markets, on June 8 at 9 p.m. It will air on Milwaukee PBS on June 9 at 8 p.m. It will also air nationally on most PBS stations. 

Read more about the documentary here.

See a Battleground Wisconsin 2020 article on the city’s socialist history here.

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