The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors recently honored two legends of politics and civil rights, presenting awards to Vel Phillips (pictured above at left with members of the Board) and noted historian and founder of America’s Black Holocaust Museum Dr. James Cameron postumously. Members of the Cameron family were on hand to receive the award for late historian (left to right): Daughter Dolores Cameron, son Virgil Cameron and daughter-in-law Carolyn Cameron.
From Harriet Tubman to Rosa Parks to Maya Angelou, the “Sisters of Freedom” display highlights the important accomplishments made over the decades by African American women.
“In any discussion we have around civil rights and the fight for freedom in the this country we rightly recognize what African American men have accomplished, but too often we look past the role of African American women. This display reminds us of the women who stood up to inequality and who helped shape our world.” said County Executive Chris Abele.
According to Dr. Lynne Woehrle, professor of sociology at Mount Mary, she worked with Dr. Shawnee Daniels-Sykes, in the theology department to “…address the great need for educational materials about women leaders in the U.S Civil Rights Movement.” They collaborated with the Syracuse Cultural Workers to design the exhibit. The exhibit has traveled to Denver, CO and has appeared in several area community locations including Milwaukee City Hall, schools, churches, libraries and community centers. It is available for loan at no cost from Mount Mary University. Visit mtmary.edu for more information.
Three Milwaukee women are featured in the exhibit:
- Gwen Jackson, an early childhood education advocate and longtime community volunteer, was involved in the leadership of the American Red Cross at a chapter, regional and national level. In 2009, MPS’ Twenty-first Street School was renamed the Gwen T. Jackson Early Childhood and Elementary School.
- Martha Love, a longtime community activist, political organizer and labor leader in Milwaukee, was a union representative who fought to ensure equal treatment of African American employees, as well as other people of color.
- Vel Phillips was the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Madison law school, and in 1956, Phillips became the first woman and the first African American member of Milwaukee’s Common Council. She later was appointed to the Milwaukee County judiciary, making her the first African American judge in Wisconsin.
“Sisters of Freedom” will be on display from February 17th – 28th during normal business hours on the third floor of the Courthouse. The display is free and open to the public.