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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Thursday May 23rd 2024

“The Alley” Goes to Harvard Law School, Cambridge & Old South Hall, Boston “Spirit of Phillips” to be experienced by its Cartoonist and Editor from Phillips

By Harvey Winje, Editor, The Alley Newspaper

Fifty-nine years ago, as a young boy growing up in Phillips, my parents enrolled me at  Wendell Phillips Junior High School on 13th Avenue and East 24th Street where housing stands now north of the Phillips Community Center Pool and Gym.  To the best of my recollection, no one ever told us who Wendell Phillips was or why the school was named from him when it was built in 1926.  The only reference to Wendell Phillips that I can remember is that a picture of him hung in the front lobby of the school.

Forty years ago, I spotted a book titled Prophet of Liberty: the Life and Times of Wendell Phillips by Oscar Sherwin in a used book store where a dollar and a half bought me the explanation not given at our junior high school.  The life of Wendell Phillips opened a whole new endeavor of study for me of mid-19th century history.  By learning about the namesake of our community, I was also able to link our community”'s current struggles for human rights and social justice with people like Wendell Phillips who were willing to speak up and passionately debate and agitate for the rights of women, immigrants, slaves, and all other disenfranchised in the 1800”'s.  Learning about the life of Wendell Phillips has not only inspired me but has helped to ground me in my own pursuit of social justice for the Phillips Community in my work with The Alley Newspaper.

Twenty-Five years ago some Phillips friends gave a gift of Wendell Phillips Liberty”'s Hero by James Brewer Stewart to me.  Fascinated by his captivating writing in updating the biography of Wendell Phillips and Ann Greene Phillips, I sought out Professor Stewart of Macalester College in 1999 which led to Phillips TV students interviewing him on camera.  Brewer will be the keynote speaker at the June Bicentennial Symposium at Harvard Law Schools Charles Houston Hamilton Institute for Race and Justice.  Some sessions are at Old South Hall in Boston where issues have been debated since Revolutionary Days of the United States.

Dave Moore, Spirit of Phillips cartoonist for The Alley, and I will soon be on the streets of Boston and Cambridge participating at the Wendell Phillips Symposium which will celebrate Wendell”'s 200th birthday.  Touring the streets and sites where Wendell Phillips and his contemporaries walked, talked and agitated will be thrilling.  Phillips was banned from the Harvard campus even though a graduate of the University and the Law School because of his stands for peace and justice.  To be able to listen to old and new insights of scholars about that time of civil unrest and Wendell Phillips and comparing its relevance today in a year of enormous agitation and unrest to injustice will be more than I could have imagined.

Even more unbelievable is that these same scholars want to hear about this community in the Midwest called “Phillips” that continues with or without an understanding of its namesake to speak out and seek what is right for the common good of all.  Dave Moore and I will be proud to represent this dynamic community and to bring back what we have learned so that we can continue to inspire each other to action.  Stay tuned for our “report back to the community” event and Alley Communications, Inc.”'s own Wendell Phillips 200 Year Birthday Celebration happening sometime this fall.

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