Juanita Nelson
(1924 — 2015)


As remembered by Paul T. Murray

Juanita Morrow Nelson, a lifelong fighter for justice, passed away on March 9, 2015, at age 91.

Her first protest took place at age 16. When traveling from Ohio to Georgia she refused to sit in the Jim Crow railroad car. While a student at Howard University, she was arrested during a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter. She and her husband, Wally, were early members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), working for racial justice in Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Juanita was incensed that she was prevented from accompanying Wally on the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation protesting segregated transportation because she was a woman. In 1948, the Nelsons began refusing to pay taxes to support militarism and were among the founders of the Peacemakers, a pacifist group dedicated to nonviolence in all aspects of living. They embraced a simple life style, eventually building a cabin without electricity or running water at Woolman Hill in Deerfield, Massachusetts where they grew much of their own food.

After Wally's death in 2002, Juanita continued living alone in the cabin. She frequently talked with visiting students who were amazed that this soft-spoken woman voluntarily lived without modern conveniences as a matter of principle.

Rest in peace, Juanita. You have fought the good fight.

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