MMSD board votes to rename Memorial High School for Vel Phillips

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to rename James Madison Memorial High School in honor of Vel Phillips.

The vote came after months of discussion. The name change is set to take effect at the beginning of the next school year.

Last school year, the push to remove former president Madison’s name from the school over his owning of slaves led the school board to create a committee to consider a name change. Last month, a renaming committee chose Vel Phillips Memorial High School as its recommended name.

Phillips, who died in 2018, was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s law school and the first Black woman to serve in statewide office in Wisconsin. UW-Madison’s Phillips Residence Hall is also named after her, and a statue of her is set to be erected at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

At one point, two dozen different names were under consideration.