Marquette-ians in Politics
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Gwendolynne (Gwen) Moore
You don’t have to look far to find our first political Marquette alumna. Representing her hometown and alma mater in Congress, Milwaukee native Gwen Moore is the congresswoman for Wisconsin’s 4th District, covering the city and some of its surrounding suburbs. After serving two terms in the State Assembly, Moore became the first African-American woman to be elected to the Wisconsin State Senate. In 2004, Moore became the second woman and first African-American to represent Wisconsin in Congress.
Moore’s Marquette experience was different than most. A single mother at the age of 19, Moore was on welfare while in college and was a member of Marquette’s inaugural Educational Opportunity Program class for low-income students. Despite these challenges, Moore graduated in 1973 with a degree in political science.
While Moore may have been the first African-American to represent Wisconsin in Congress, she was not the 1st African-American representative Marquette has produced. Ralph Metcalfe served as an alderman for Chicago’s South Side and rose to president pro tempore of the Chicago Common Council. In 1970, he he won a seat in the House of Representatives, where he served Illinois’ First Congressional District until his death in 1978. As a congressman, he helped to found the Congressional Black Caucus and introduce a resolution establishing Black History Month.
Metcalfe was senior class president at Marquette and graduated cum laude in 1936. Even before that, he was a world-famous athlete and runner. In the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, Metcalfe won a silver medal in the 100-meter dash and a bronze in the 200-meter. In the famous 1936 Berlin Olympics, he came second only to Jesse Owens in the 200-meter dash (losing by .1 second) and won a gold in the 4×100 relay.
In terms of fame, there is one Marquette alum any student of American history should know, though the university may not always advertise him. Joseph McCarthy entered Marquette in 1930 and spent his first two years studying electrical engineering before transferring to the law school in 1932, from which he graduated in 1935.
He served as a U.S. senator for Wisconsin from 1947 until his death 10 years later. During his tenure, he launched an infamous hunt for alleged communists, accusing numerous members of the State Department, Truman administration, and military, among other governmental and non-governmental agencies, of being communist infiltrators. His often baseless attacks drew condemnation from his fellow senators and on Dec. 2, 1954 he he became one of the few members of the Senate ever to be censured by the body. Today, the term McCarthyism is used to describe “the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.”
Another controversial figure (depending on your point of view) in Wisconsin politics is current Governor Scott Walker. Elected in 2010, Walker received some criticism after introducing legislation that cut most collective bargaining rights for state employees. Months of protests eventually led to a recall election on June 5, 2012, in which Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett 53 percent to 46 percent.
Breaking the mold of the stereotypical Marquette student from Wisconsin or a Chicago suburb, Greg Stanton, a 1992 graduate, is mayor of Phoenix, Arizona. Stanton was actually one of three Marquette alums running for the same office during the city’s 2011 election. Anna Brennan (1981) and Jennifer Wright (1996) joined Stanton and three other candidates before being eliminated in the August primary election.
Stanton attended Marquette on a scholarship from the Harry S. Truman Foundation for students interested in public service, and later attended the University of Michigan Law School, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on Aug. 11, 2011. While on the City Council in Phoenix, he helped to organize Arizona State University’s downtown campus, which he said was in part inspired by Marquette’s urban campus.