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Joan Prince sitting in church in a pew

Breaking barriers in Milwaukee and beyond

by Rev. Dr. Kenneth J. Fisher

Dr. Joan Prince, a lifelong member of St. Philip, Milwaukee, Wis., has had a life and career of many “firsts.” Despite all the challenges that she has faced as a black woman breaking barriers in her education and career, she remains optimistic for her synod’s future and joyful for the incredible life that God has given her.

The youngest of four siblings, Joan was raised in a changing neighborhood of Milwaukee in the era of the Civil Rights movement. Despite growing up in one of Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods, Joan became an heir of immeasurable riches at her baptism as a toddler. Throughout her life, she has always been richly blessed to know Christ as her Savior. Her faith—born in her baptismal grace and nurtured by the gospel—has given her life direction, guidance, stability, and purpose.

Her parents, who both worked at a factory, were early members of St. Philip Lutheran Church, which was launched as a mission to Milwaukee’s African-American community. Her father cared deeply about his children’s education and their faith development. So when a representative from Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee invited parents to enroll their children at the new high school with a promise of tuition assistance, her father insisted that Joan and her siblings attend.

A handful of African-American students from the church broke the school’s color barrier.

E-news exclusive photos of Dr. Joan Prince

Dr. Joan Prince at age nine in a school photo as a nine-year-old attending St. Philip, Milwaukee
Dr. Joan Prince's high school graduation photo
Dr. Joan Prince serving as citizen ambassador at the United Nations
Dr. Joan Prince in a group photo of a reunion of those who attended St. Philip Lutheran School in Milwaukee. The group is posed in the front of the church at St. Philip.
Photos: As a third-grade student at St. Philip, Milwaukee; as a senior at Wisconsin Lutheran High School, Milwaukee; presenting to the General Assembly of the United Nations speaking on religious freedom; and at a reunion of students who attended St. Philip. See more photos at forwardinchrist.net/joan-prince.
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