Channing E. Phillips

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Channing E. Phillips
Channing Phillips at his desk at the NEH.jpg
Personal details
Channing Emery Phillips

(1928-03-23)March 23, 1928
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedOctober 11, 1987(1987-10-11) (aged 59)
New York, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Jane Channing
ChildrenChanning D.

Channing Emery Phillips (March 23, 1928 – November 11, 1987) was an American minister, civil rights leader and social activist, who made history as the first African-American placed in nomination for President of the United States by a major political party.


Born in Brooklyn to a Baptist minister, he was a founding member of Coalition of Conscience, a conglomeration of local organizations working to alleviate social problems in Washington, D.C. In 1968 he headed Robert F. Kennedy's presidential campaign in D.C.

He led the delegation from the District of Columbia to the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Members of the District's Delegation were originally pledged to Robert F. Kennedy. Following Senator Kennedy's death, the delegation voted to nominate Rev. Phillips as a favorite son instead. He received 68 votes (behind Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern). By some accounts, this makes Rev. Phillips the first black person ever so nominated at a major party convention. He was without question the first African-American to receive votes for the presidential nomination at a Democratic National Convention. Frederick Douglass received votes for president at the 1888 Republican National Convention, but it does not appear from the official record that his name was actually put into nomination.[1][2]

Phillips said that his candidacy was meant to show that "the Negro vote must not be taken for granted." At the time of his candidacy, Phillips was a president of the Housing Development Corporation, a government-backed housing venture in the federal capital.

In 1971 he ran to become the first congressional delegate to the United States House of Representatives from D.C., but lost the Democratic primary to Walter E. Fauntroy.

An advocate of full home-rule status for D.C., Phillips later moved back to New York City, where he died at the age of 59. He was survived by his wife, Jane, two sons: Channing D. Phillips, acting United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, and John E. Phillips, and three daughters: Sheilah P. Peterson, Tracy J. Phillips and Jill C. Phillips.



  • McQuiston, John T. (November 12, 1987). "Channing E. Phillips Dies at 59; Minister and Civil Rights Leader". New York Times.
  • Our Campaigns - Candidate - Channing E. Phillips