Vel Phillips, a civil rights activist from Wisconsin known for becoming the first African-American judge in Milwaukee has died at the age of 94.
Phillips was an instrumental part in knocking down walls of racial inequality in the state of Wisconsin according to The Wisconsin State Journal. An HBCU alum of Howard University, Phillips became the first African-American to graduate from the UW Madison Law School in 1951.
In 1956 Phillips ran for City Council and won. There she fought against housing discrimination and participated in civil rights protest with the Rev. James Groppi, a Roman Catholic priest and civil rights activist from 1967 to 1968 when the Council passed an open housing ordinance.
In 1971, she was appointed as the circuit judge in Milwaukee County making her the first African-America judge in the state of Wisconsin. She again made history in 1978, elected Wisconsin’s secretary of state becoming the first African-American woman in that position.
Nowhere near done making history, she did it again in when she became the first African-American elected to Democratic National Committee. Phillips was truly a catalyst for change.
“Wisconsin has lost a beloved, iconic, tenacious trailblazer whose leadership and career of firsts in our state opened doors through which so many African-Americans, Democrats, and women are proud to have followed,” explained Martha Laning, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairwoman.
So many in the state know of the hard work and dedication that Phillips put into her work.
“Vel Phillips forged relationships for the betterment of all Wisconsinites and truly fought to leave no one behind,” said Mahlon Mitchell the Democratic candidate for governor. “While she will be sorely missed, she leaves behind a legacy we can all be proud of and hope to build upon.”
Phillips passed away on April 17, a few hours after the Milwaukee City Council approved the Vel Phillips Trailblazer Award to be awarded every year.
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(Source: The Wisconsin State Journal )
(Photo Credit: YouTube)
Wisconsin Civil Rights Activist Vel Phillips Dies At 94 was originally published on blackamericaweb.com