Mayor Barrett signs file to approve the renaming of 4th Street to “Vel R. Phillips Avenue”

MILWAUKEE -- Mayor Tom Barrett on Thursday, May 17 signed a file to approve the renaming of 4th Street to "Vel R. Phillips Avenue."

The Milwaukee Common Council voted unanimously on May 8 to rename the stretch to honor the civil rights pioneer who died in April.

The street will be renamed from West St. Paul Avenue to West Capitol Avenue, a nearly 3.5-mile span that runs past the new Milwaukee Bucks’ arena. City staff estimate the cost to replace street signs will be $9,700.

Vel Phillips

Phillips died on April 17 at age 94. She helped lead open housing marches in Milwaukee in the 1960s and was the first black person elected to a Wisconsin statewide office.

Phillips attended the former Garfield Elementary School on North 4th Street and was married at a church on the street. North 4th Street ran through the aldermanic district she represented, and it runs parallel to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Vel Phillips

Numerous community members and groups supported the proposal to rename North 4th Street. Among them: the Milwaukee Turners, Delta Sigma Theta fraternity and Phillips’ son Michael.