Phillips was born March 23, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York.
Phillips participated in Martin Luther King Jr.'s first march on Selma, Alabama. He was director of congressional relations for the National Endowment for the Humanities during the Jimmy Carter Administration and was vice president of Virginia Union University, a professor at Howard University and a minister at Lincoln Temple in Washington before moving to New York.
He was a founding member of the Coalition of Conscience, a conglomeration of local organizations working to alleviate social problems in the Washington, D.C. area.
He led Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign in Washington, D.C. and the delegation from D.C. to the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Members of D.C.'s delegation originally were pledged to Robert F. Kennedy, but, following Kennedy's assassination, the delegation voted to nominate Rev. Phillips as a favorite son instead. He received 68 votes (behind Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, and George McGovern), thus making him the first African American to receive votes for the presidential nomination at a Democratic National Convention, if not the first African American to be nominated at a major party 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.) The 68 votes, came from 18 states, 17 from California alone, which was more than that given the eventual nominee, Hubert H. Humphrey.
Phillips said his admittedly token candidacy was meant to show that "the Negro vote must not be taken for granted."
While failing to be endorsed, Phillips felt his nomination showed that the Black vote should be taken seriously. At the time of his candidacy, he was president of the Housing Development Corporation, a government-supported housing venture in D.C. and favored full home rule for D.C.
He also served as pastor at the United Church of Christ.
He died at age 59 after succumbing to cancer.
Compiled from Internet Sources including Wikipedia, a New York Times article and http://articles.latimes.com/1987-11-13/news/mn-13647_1_channing-phillips.