Street in Milwaukee renamed in honor of Vel Phillips: ‘She would have been overjoyed’

Vel Phillips

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee street has been renamed to honor the late Vel Phillips. A ceremony was held on Tuesday, Aug. 7 at North 4th Street and West North Avenue.

A trailblazer for women and a civil rights leader, Phillips has long been a part of Milwaukee's history.

"It is with sadness, and gladness that I'm here today. She would have been overjoyed," said Michael Phillips, Vel's son.

Now, she also has a permanent place on the city's map.

"It's interesting that we're naming a street after my mother because she was not the best driver," said Michael Phillips.

The street renaming was something Phillips fought for before her death in April.

Vel Phillips

"We are doing 4th Street because it's what Vel wanted," said Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele Coggs.

Now called Vel R. Phillips Avenue, the street dedication was held close to where she grew up attending church and school.

Bronzeville is also part of the district Phillips once represented.

"She knocked down the doors for women and African-Americans to be able to sit on the council, to be able to sit as judges and to win statewide office as state secretary," said Coggs.

"She had it all... she had it all," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Her legacy now spans the City of Milwaukee.

"She wanted the street to go all the way from Capitol to St. Paul," said Coggs.

Her name will serve as a reminder of her life's work as a local pioneer.

"I think she's been an inspiration to hundreds, if not thousands of people. Anybody who met her had to be inspired by the way she carried herself," said Mayor Barrett.

Phillips' son is now carrying her memory on.

"She's with my father right now and they're wondering if I'm going to get in my car and drive up and down the street -- and hoping I will obey the traffic laws," said Michael Phillips.

Bronzeville Week continues until Sunday, Aug. 12 with culture, art and history merging to celebrate the community.

To learn more about the Bronzeville neighborhood, CLICK HERE.