Biden announces grant to help Milwaukee community torn apart by legacy of racism - TAI News
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The Department of Transportation announced on March 13 that the city of Milwaukee has been given a $36 million grant to make improvements and upgrades along its 6th Street Corridor.

Funding will come from the department’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot and Neighborhood Access and Equity grant program, which was created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act laws that President Joe Biden signed. The program is intended to address the long-term effects of urban planning decisions that were influenced by systemic racism.

On the day of the announcement, Biden spoke about the project at the Pieper-Hillside Boys & Girls Club in the 6th Street neighborhood.

Biden noted that the construction of the interstate highway system divided Black communities and cited the example of the Bronzeville section of Milwaukee, which was disrupted by the creation of Interstate 43.

Biden described the newly funded project to rebuild Milwaukee’s 6th Street, along with 132 other projects around the country, as part of his agenda to address the injustices of the past.

“It will mean wider sidewalks for children walking to school, safer bike lanes for residents and visitors, dedicated bus lanes to get to work faster, new trees to provide shade, and modern infrastructure to prevent sewage from flowing into the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan,” Biden said. 

Biden lamented that in the past, the entire United States had suffered from bigoted practices, because biased planning had prevented minority communities from building businesses and advancing in education. He added, “You have lived in and felt the decisions made decades ago. Today — today — we’re making decisions to transform your lives for decades to come.” 

In his remarks, Biden contrasted the successful passage of the infrastructure bill during his presidency with former President Donald Trump’s unfulfilled promises to do the same. Biden also criticized Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who voted against the infrastructure law along with most Republicans in Congress.

Johnson’s Democratic counterpart, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, supported the law and attended Biden’s speech.

“I fought hard to secure these investments to reconnect our communities with one another, creating economic opportunity and ensuring Wisconsinites can get to work and school safely,” Baldwin said in a statement.

Biden was introduced by Raynetta “Ray” Hill, executive director of the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District No. 8. Hill recounted the story of how her grandfather Laurence Hill, a military veteran and business owner, saw his restaurant demolished in the 1960s due to racist urban planning when 6th Street was widened, prioritizing cars over pedestrians. He later reopened his business elsewhere in the city.

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is giving people with the spirit, like my grandfather had, a shot,” Hill said. 

Hill said that the new project would restore 6th Street to the vibrant atmosphere it had in her grandfather’s time.

The Biden administration said that a total of $3.3 billion is being sent to 40 states for similar projects. The White House said that nearly a million people and businesses in diverse communities were displaced by decades of decisions connected to construction of the interstate highway system, and that Biden hopes to revitalize those communities with his policy decisions.

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