MILWAUKEE – Civil rights pioneer Vel Phillips, who helped lead open housing marches in Milwaukee in the 1960s and was the first black person elected to statewide office in Wisconsin, has died.
Her son, Michael Phillips, says his mother passed away in hospice care Tuesday. She was 94.
Phillips was the first black woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin law school. She was the first woman and first African-American elected to the Milwaukee Common Council where she kept introducing an open housing ordinance every 90 days for seven years until it was finally adopted in 1968.
While serving as a Democratic national committeewoman, Phillips made headlines in 1960, when she fought to put more than generalities in the party's platform.