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Bronzeville District street named for Black pioneer William Finlayson

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The Milwaukee road between West Capitol Drive and West Walnut Street — formerly North 5th Street — will now be known as Dr. William Finlayson Street.

Finlayson, a beloved obstetrician and gynecologist who practiced for nearly 40 years, welcomed thousands of infants into the world. The Florida-born doctor became the first Black OB-GYN to work at St. Joseph Hospital, now Ascension Southeast Wisconsin Hospital – St. Joseph.

In addition to delivering thousands of infants, Finlayson was a champion for eliminating housing discrimination, financial literacy and preserving Black history.

In light of his indelible impact on the community, the Common Council voted Tuesday to rename the street in honor of Finlayson, where Alderman Russell Stamper III described Finlayson as a legend in the city, county and the country.

Dr. William Finlayson, shown in 1964.

Alderwoman Milele Coggs echoed that sentiment, saying, “The impact and influence of Dr. Finlayson is felt through the life and works of so many people in the city of Milwaukee, and I am honored to have a street in Bronzeville named after him.”

Early influences shaped Finlayson’s path

Although he was born in 1924, during an era in which overt racism hindered the advancement of many African Americans, Finlayson’s success was, in many ways, predictable because of his personal drive and early influences, according to an oral history he delivered in 2008.

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