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March on Milwaukee: Assisted Search - Vel Phillips

Vel Phillips is one of the most prominent and accomplished figures of Milwaukee's African American community. Phillips was born in Milwaukee on February 18, 1924. She graduated from Milwaukee's North Division High School and then from Howard University in Washington D.C. She returned to Wisconsin to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School and received her law degree in 1951. In 1956, at the age of 32, she became the first African American and first woman elected to Milwaukee's Common Council. In 1962, she introduced the Phillips Housing Ordinance--a bill that outlawed housing discrimination--to her peers in the Common Council. The bill, however, was defeated 18-1 with only her vote in favor. Between the years of 1963 and 1967, Phillips would reintroduce the fair housing bill three additional times, only to have it defeated each time. In 1967, she and the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council joined forces in an effort to rally for the passing of an open housing bill. In an effort to dramatize the open housing issue, the Youth Council staged marches across the 16th Street bridge to the South Side of the city.  more...

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