NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Wednesday August 23rd 2017

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Why is the Phillips Neighborhood Named “Phillips?” Why Should We Care? 11-11-11

Wendell Phillips

By Jim Stewart

In the September Alley Newspaper we learned that our neighborhood was named after Wendell Phillips, a spectacular, inspiring fighter for social, economic and racial justice who lived in Boston over 150 years ago. (1811-1884)

We learned that he hated slavery and racism, fought for workers’ rights, demanded equality for women and insisted that Native Peoples be left to live peacefully in their own lands.

We learned that he was incredibly rich, but gave away his fortune to people seeking justice and equality. We learned that he was a fabulous public speaker who developed a huge influence on public opinion to finally abolish slavery and advance the rights of people of color.

How right it is that the part of Minneapolis that is the least wealthy, that contains the most people of color, that suffers most from multiple discrimination and that is most exploited economically is named after this guy!  He is our historical champion–He is our inspiring gift from the past!

  • Here are some of the injustices that Wendell Phillips spoke out against:
  • Federal laws that excluded Asian people from immigrating to the United States.
  • Racist politicians in Boston who forced African American children to attend inferior, segregated schools.
  • Wealthy business interests who (over)worked their employees 12 hours a day, six days a week.
  • U.S military expeditions against the Native people of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
  • Racist politicians in Massachusetts who passed laws prohibiting people of different skin colors from marrying.
  • White Americans who owned, bought, sold and abused 4,000,000 black people before the Civil War (1861-65).

Here are the kinds of things Wendell Phillips became famous for saying:

  • Write on my gravestone: ‘Infidel, Traitor.”, infidel to every church that compromises with wrong; traitor to every government that oppresses the people.’ ”
  • “Governments exist to protect the rights of minorities. The loved and the rich need no protection: they have many friends and few enemies.”
  • “The Labor movement is the noble protest of the American people against incorporated wealth.”
  • “The rights of the poor and of those of darker colors will be vindicated– peacefully if possible– but with justice however it’s done.”

What a powerful spokesman for the citizens of the Phillips Neighborhood today!!!—Come celebrate his 200th birthday with us!! November 11!!

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