History was made today. Through a unanimous vote of the Common Council, the legacy of Vel R. Phillips, Milwaukee’s first African-American and first female Alderperson will live on through the renaming of North Fourth Street in her honor.
The legislation (Common Council file #180127) will rename North Fourth Street, from West Saint Paul Avenue to West Capitol Drive, as North Vel R. Phillips Avenue. The street’s renaming will serve as a memorial to Vel R. Phillips’ advocacy for social justice, fair housing and civil rights, her groundbreaking career, and her lasting legacy in the Milwaukee community. North Fourth Street was significant in Phillips’ life as she attended Garfield Elementary School and St. Marks Church on this street, and went on to represent this area as the 6th District Alderwoman. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive also runs parallel to North Fourth Street, reflecting the collaboration and friendship between the two civil rights leaders of their time.
Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs introduced the legislation, which was unanimously recommended for passage by the Public Works Committee on April 25. “The legacy of Vel Phillips, her incredible courage and commitment, has shaped our community’s history, and it is past due time to make this small tribute to such a large figure in Wisconsin and this nation’s history,” said Alderwoman Coggs. “Running parallel to MLK Drive, North Vel R. Phillips Avenue will serve as a reminder of her contributions to the betterment of the community and the voice she used to advocate for others.”
“The unanimous vote of my colleagues is a demonstration of the tremendous impact that Ms. Phillips had on each of us, and I am grateful for their support. Thank you to each of the community groups, residents, and businesses who have shown their support for this street renaming. Although we are saddened and suffered a great loss with her passing, this also creates an opportunity to honor her legacy, while providing a reminder of the work we must continue to do.”