The stories that “Milwaukee 53206” tells reflect a common way of life for millions of households across the nation — the tragic result of a uniquely American era of mass incarceration. The United States now has the most prisoners of any nation in the world, both in raw numbers and by percentage of population. The numbers are even more grim in Milwaukee’s mostly African-American 53206 ZIP code, where 62 percent of adult men have spent time in prison. “Milwaukee 53206” relates the intimate personal stories of those affected by mass incarceration in America’s most imprisoned ZIP code. Through the representative journeys of Beverly Walker, Dennis Walton, and Chad Wilson, the film illuminatingly reveals how incarceration has shaped their lives, their families, and their community. “Milwaukee 53206” also examines the larger issues: how decades of poverty, unemployment, and lack of opportunity have contributed to the crisis — not just in Milwaukee but across the nation. More positively, the film shows how the ZIP code’s residents — despite the daunting obstacles they face — fight to move forward even as a majority of its young men end up in prison. As the Milwaukee Journal writes: "You might be expecting a gritty, depressing litany of statistics and tragedies about the city’s poorest ZIP code, but you’d be wrong."
Film CategoryLeon & Mary Strauss Documentary Spotlight Mean Streets: Viewing the Divided City Through the Lens of Film and Television Race in America: The Black Experience
SubjectAfrican American Human Rights Policing/Criminal Justice Youth
Mean Streets is a program of The Divided City: An Urban Humanities Initiative. With the support of the Mellon Foundation, Washington U.’s Center for the Humanities, in partnership with the College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design, is engaged in a four-year initiative called The Divided City, which addresses one of the most persistent and vexing issues in urban studies: segregation.
An animated documentary that explores the poignant and imaginative illustrations of a youth grappling with the effects of having an incarcerated loved one.