The Madison School Board plans to seek a committee recommendation to rename James Madison Memorial High School as Well Phillips Memorial High School on November 22.
A committee of community members charged with the task of renaming the high school submitted its suggestion to the board’s steering working group on Monday after a five-month deliberation process. The committee changed the list of 26 names to four, and finally settled on Phillips in a 10-1 vote last month.
“There is something profound about someone with a name like this and that history, which can be taught to not just one race but all races,” committee chairman Julian Walters said during a September meeting. “It feels more integrated to me.”
Phillips was the first black woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin Law School, won a seat on the Milwaukee City Council, became a judge in Wisconsin, and was elected to statewide office. He passed away in 2018 at the age of 95.
“We’ve been talking about this since we were in high school too,” Board Vice President Savian Castro said of the name change during Monday’s meeting. “The fact that we are able to process a student’s proposal at that time also means a lot.”
The committee sought feedback from the public on the four finalists prior to its decision: Weill Phillips Memorial High School, Darlene M. Hancock Memorial High School, Bruce Dahman Memorial High School and Memorial High School.