Overhead shot of Vel Phillips' tribute.

NAACP Megaphone

Speak Truth to Power: Vel Phillips

In August 1967, Milwaukee roiled with racial tension. Civil Rights activists argued that the city’s housing was segregated, and Vel Phillips LLB1951 — the first woman and first African-American to serve on the city council — was one of the foremost voices for change. An alderman since 1956, she often took part in nonviolent protests against housing demonstration. But in the long, hot summer of 1967, tension rose around the city. After an NAACP office was firebombed, Phillips marched in a rally, and police arrested her — an event that made the front page of the Milwaukee Journal. This sculptural tribute shows the actual front page of the Journal reporting her arrest.