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Johnnie Tillmon
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    Born in Scott, Arkansas
    Birth name was Johnnie Lee Percy
    Labor rights activist; grassroots organizer
    Worked for the Nickerson Garden Planning Organization
    Founded Aid to Needy Children (ANC) Mothers Anonymous (1963)
    Served as both the first CEO, and the first female chair, of the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO)
    Penned the famous essay, 'Welfare is a Woman's Issue,' first published in Ms. Magazine (1972)
    She was divorced.
    She advocated for welfare.
    Her name is frequently misspelled.
    The NWRO folded under her tenure as executive.
    She was obese, befitting of the 'welfare queen' stereotype pols like Reagan continuously drew on.
    Her methods differed sharply from that of previous NRWO head, George Wiley, whom she clashed with regularly until he stepped down, in 1972.
    She joined delegates in heckling Sargent Shriver during his 1966 address before the Citizens' Crusade Against Poverty (the bombardment got so tense that he left the stage without even taking any questions).
    Her famous Ms. Magazine essay read: 'If I were president ... I'd start paying women a living wage for doing the work we are already doing - child-raising and housekeeping. Housewives would be getting wages - a legally determined percentage of their husband's salary - instead of having to ask for and account for money they've already earned.'
    She was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War (the organization's slogan was 'welfare not warfare').
    She is the namesake for an organization model used by the National Union of the Homeless.
    ANC/Mothers Anonymous was the first grassroots organization run by black welfare mothers’ organizations.
    Her mother died in childbirth, leaving her to be raised by her sharecropper father and an aunt.
    She moved to California, to join her brothers who had relocated to find work (by this time she had six children).
    Her family encouraged her to seek welfare benefits after falling ill, preventing her from holding a regular job.
    She quickly learned that case workers would harass recipients, invade their homes to look for evidence of 'extra support,' and regularly attempted to control how their money was spent, prompting her to become an activist.
    She mobilized non-profit funds to secure child care and job training services, in addition to welfare (as opposed to Wiley, whose main concern was getting as many people on assistance as possible).
    By the time she took the helm of the NWRO, the organization's resources had largely been squandered by her predecessor.
    She said 'I'm a [poor] black woman. I'm a [middle-aged] fat woman. I'm on welfare. In this country, if you're any one of those things, you count less as a person. If you're all those things, you just don't count, except as a statistic. I am a statistic.'
    In 1972, she was attending a rally near the U.S. Capitol when a man approached them and hollered 'nigger.' She calmly handed her coat/bag to her attorney, and 'had a fist city' on the assailant (he ran).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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