The Wisconsin Historical Society Honors Vel Phillips, African American History Maker



In honor of Black History Month, the Wisconsin Historical Society has created a video highlighting the life of Vel Phillips.

Portrait of Vel Phillips taken on February 7, 1953 in Wisconsin. Vel graduated the UW-Madison school of law in 1951. By 1956, Vel won a seat on the Milwaukee city council.
(Wisconsin Historical Society)

Phillip’s life was a series of firsts. The first African American woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison law school. The first to win a seat on Milwaukee’s City Council. The first to become a judge in Wisconsin. The first to become Secretary of State of Wisconsin. More impressive, Phillips did it all at a time when many African Americans were not allowed to exercise their civil rights.

In 2020, the Wisconsin Historical Society is celebrating BIG moments in Wisconsin history, including the significant impact that African Americans have had on the history of the state. Learn about this impact through the articles, artifacts, and other important items below that help tell the story of African Americans in Wisconsin.

Watch this short video below celebrating the historic life of Vel Phillips.



To learn more about the life and legacy of Vel Phillips, click here.