Effort to erect Vel Phillips statue at Wisconsin Capitol gets financial boost

NOW: Effort to erect Vel Phillips statue at Wisconsin Capitol gets financial boost

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The late Vel Phillips achieved so many firsts during her life that we don't have time to list them all. Now the effort to make her the first person of color honored with a statue at Wisconsin's State Capitol is moving forward. 

She fought for civil rights in the 60s, she was the first African-American woman to graduate from University of Wisconsin's Law School, she was the first woman elected to Milwaukee's Common Council -- and we're just scratching the surface. 

Thursday, Feb.18, the group working toward the statue, Vel Phillips Statue Task Force, gave CBS 58 a status report. 

"Her quiet but firm example taught everyone, but especially us and our family, even people with hard hearts, that there was a right way to live," said Dr. Patrick McBride, with the Vel Phillips Statue Task Force. 

Task force members held a news conference in Milwaukee Thursday, and the State Bar of Wisconsin announced that it was donating $25,000 toward a Capitol statue. That's about ten percent of the estimated cost of the project. 

Vel Phillips died in 2018.

Thursday, her son spoke about the latest tribute. 

"I can tell you that if my mom were here, she would be, well first of all she'd be standing here. And she would be about as excited as maybe I'd ever seen her. This is something that we've talked about," said Michael Phillips, Vel Phillips' son. 

Along with the statue, the task force is also raising money to create a Vel Phillips endowment, to help young people with financial needs pursue their education. 

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