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Dr. John Glover: First African American to lead an FBI field office was in Milwaukee

Dr. John Glover
Posted at 11:24 PM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 09:52:18-05

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee is home to the first FBI field office lead by an African American man.

Dr. John Glover was a high school teacher in Miami back in the 1960s when an FBI agent recruited him.

"There was some pressure on then Director J. Edgar Hoover to diversify the professional ranks within the FBI, and this agent was also on the lookout," Glover said.

Soon after he was off to train at Quantico.

"There were 36 new agents in my training class. I was the only African American, so that was actually a culture shock," Glover said.

He scored the highest on the first exam. He went on to serve in many leadership roles throughout the bureau.

Glover says he joined the FBI at an "explosive" time.

"I was there for Stokely Carmichael, SNCC was there, the Black Panther Party attempted to open up a chapter and headquarters in Washington, D.C.," Glover said. "In April, of course, fourth of 1968, Dr. King was killed. There were riots in the street."

Then in February of 1979, he made history as the first African American to lead a field office. His assignment? Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"You do know it, but when you're living it, you don't, or at least from my own personal experiences, you don't feel it," Glover said. "You understand that it's heavy, you understand the role."

At the time, the FBI office was in the federal courthouse in downtown Milwaukee.

Glover was only in Wisconsin for a year, but he made big strides in fighting organized crime--even when he says the police chief, mayor and attorney general at the time didn't think there was any.

"Several months later, we proved them wrong. We had a short, undercover operation, which gave us enough probably cause to put in a first wire. Pretty soon we had approximately seven wires going," Glover said. "We were able to prove it. There were indictments and convictions."

When Glover retired from the FBI in 1989, he was the highest ranking African American.

He encourages more people like him to join.

"I think there are some barriers, you know, some people look around the FBI and if they don't see anyone like them, they don't feel welcome. That's kind of one thing. It's a tough job," Glover said. "Is it hard? Yeah. Do you have to make sacrifices? Yeah. Is it tough? Yeah, but it's also very rewarding."

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