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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Wednesday June 12th 2024

Why Phillips? Why Care?

By James Brewer Stewart

Why is the Phillips Neighborhood named Phillips?”“Who was “Phillips”?”“Why should anyone care?

Simply because this “Phillips” stands for a real person”“Wendell Phillips”“one of the world”'s most admired fighters for human rights and for equality for everybody”“ No Exceptions”“women and men, young and old, all colors, all backgrounds, all cultures..

That”'s right””“Phillips” stands for racial and gender equality, workers”' rights and social justice. It means standing strong for personal dignity. It means looking to the future with eyes full of hope. It means exposing and condemning racism, sexism and economic exploitation. It means treating everyone with respect.

How perfect a name for Minneapolis”'s most culturally diverse, most heavily discriminated against, most economically exploited neighborhood!

How perfect a name for the endlessly resourceful, ambitious, hard working people who make Phillips their home.

O.K., who was this guy?

Wendell Phillips was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1811, exactly 200 years ago. 1811. He became incredibly rich because of the fortune he inherited from his parents and the fortune he got from his wife, Anne Greene Phillips.

He was very intelligent and highly educated. He was unusually handsome, very athletic, and a natural leader. People thought he was the best public speaker they”'d ever heard. He could have easily become the Governor of Massachusetts, or maybe even the President of the United States!

Instead, he rejected all that power and prestige by taking up extremely unpopular causes. He demanded that all the enslaved black people in the United States be made free and equal citizens. He demanded that women have exactly the same rights as men. He demanded that Native Americans should keep their land and live as they wanted. He demanded just wages and hours for working people. And he did all this for all his adult life.

So that”'s who our neighborhood is named after! Next month we”'ll tell you more about this great man.

James B. Stewart is James Wallace Professor of History Emeritus, Macalester College, author of Wendell Phillips: Liberty”'s Hero (1986),and founder, Historians Against Slavery. Stewart will be a keynote speaker at the Phillips”' Phillips”' 200th Birthday Bash ”“ 11-11-11.

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