Vel Phillips statue approved for state Capitol grounds

NOW: Vel Phillips statue approved for state Capitol grounds

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A nationally renowned civil rights activist here in Wisconsin will be immortalized at the state Capitol.

The state Capitol and Executive Residence Board unanimously voted to approve a state of Vel Phillips.

Phillips was the first African American woman elected to statewide office. 

That statue will be erected at the S. Hamilton Street entrance to the Capitol.

"I waited 17 months for this day and I just cannot believe that today, that we got a unanimous vote," said Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. "And I'm just so thankful that there's going to be representation right here at our state Capitol."

Philips is also the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison law school, first female and first African American elected to the Milwaukee Common Council and the first African American judge in the state of Wisconsin.

Now she'll be the first person of color memorialized on state grounds.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Wednesday, Nov. 3, released the following statement: 

“Milwaukee takes pride in the pioneering achievements of Vel R. Phillips, and I am pleased she will be honored with a statue on the grounds of the State Capitol in Madison.

“Vel Phillips achieved numerous important firsts. She was the first African-American to win election to Milwaukee’s Common Council and the first to be elected Wisconsin Secretary of State. She was a leader in civil rights, in the law, and in politics.

“A prominent street in the heart of Milwaukee now carries the name, Vel R. Phillips Avenue, a posthumous honor that recognizes her remarkable accomplishments as a woman and as a person of color. It is fitting that she will be additionally memorialized at our State Capitol.”
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