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This man was Milwaukee's first African-American author

During this time when so much of Milwaukee is closed to the public, we're taking the opportunity on Urban Spelunking to learn more about significant people who left their mark on the city.

On this episode of Urban Spelunking, OnMilwaukee's Bobby Tanzilo shares the story of Louis Hughes, Milwaukee's first African-American published author.

Louis Hughes, holding his book "30 Years A Slave: From Bondage to Freedom." Photo via OnMilwaukee.

Hughes' 1897 memoir, "Thirty Years a Slave: From Bondage to Freedom," accounts his firsthand experience escaping slavery in the Confederate South, plus the unimaginable lengths he went to in order to ensure the rest of his family escaped, too.

In his adult life in Milwaukee, Hughes managed the coat room at a ritzy downtown hotel, where he frequently shared his stories with hotel guests and staff. He later became and entrepreneur and, even more impressively, a nurse, living in Milwaukee until his death in 1913. He is buried in Forest Home Cemetery.

Louis Hughes' name is certainly one we ought to remember. Listen to this special episode of Urban Spelunking below, and read Bobby's complete story at

You can also read Hughs' book for yourself; it has been archived here.

Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee