Minnesota Feminists Speak Out!

The unofficial blog of Minnesota NOW

About This Blog

Minnesota Feminists Speak Out! is a feminist blog created by the women of MN NOW (Minnesota National Organization for Women).  We write about current events, specific issues and politics.

We encourage spirited discourse and discussions and are always interested to hear your opinions, but please keep comments respectful and stick to the topic at hand.

2 thoughts on “About This Blog

  1. How would you like to break a precedent at the Minnesota State Capitol? This one would not require a lot of lobbying. That part of enabling this great breakthrough to happen has passed. But some effort remains for the reality of having a statue of Nellie Stone Johnson, an African American woman so honored. Currently there is no statue of a woman or an African American at the Capitol!

    Nellie Stone Johnson has by many been called the greatest civil rights worker in Minnesota history. She died in 2002 at age 96.

    Vice-President Mondale agreed to serve as Chair of the committee raising funds for the statue.The intent was both to honor a great civil rights worker in Minnesota history and to also honor all the Minnesotans who have contributed to our State by working for the causes she championed, namely civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights and opportunity to an education. ln many circles, if you are talking about these causes, you merely need to utter the word Nellie and everyone knows who you are talking about. The Legislature and Governor want to make the State Capitol meaningful to the many Minnesotans who can relate to her life because they are similar in many ways to her; and the statue will inspire them to become leaders in the many facets of life in which Nellie excelled. lt will be especially meaningful to youth of color.

    Nellie not only had an effect on our life in Minnesota. She had an effect on our nation’s history. lt was Nellie who convinced Hubert Humphrey to give his famous “let us step out of the darkness of states’ rights and into the sunlight of civil rights” speech at the 1948 Democratic National Convention, which caused a walkout by the Mississippi delegation. ln the 1940s Nellie was one of the early national voices demanding integration of the.armed services. She and Cecil Newman led the Minneapolis NAACP into leadership on that issue.

    She shepherded into state law, the Minneapolis Fair Housing and Fair Employment Practices acts. They became a basis for laws all over the country. She was instrumental in helping Hubert Humphrey shape the politics of Minnesota for generations. She was one of the top leaders in the Farmer Labor Party and Hubert was the leader of the Democratic Party. They were close friends despite some political differences, and they decided they could only achieve success on their issues if they worked together. So, she led the Farmer Labor Party into the historic unification of the two parties. The website for the Minnesota African-American Museum asks the question, “Would the DFL exist if it weren’t for Nellie Stone Johnson?”

    Nellie grew up in Pine County,where she helped her father organize the forerunner of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association and was active in the Non-Partisan League. When Nellie moved to the Twin Cities she became a fiery orator and organizer, She quickly became a highly sought-after speaker on civil rights, women’s rights, workers’rights and education at a time when there was little desire to listen to a black person, much less a black woman. Even at black rallies,, she was usually the only woman speaker. She was so popular, her name was usually the first one listed as speaker. Her famous theme was “Equal opportunity to an education and to employment”. Her theme never changed from the 1930s until she died.

    Nellie organized the forerunner of Local 17 Hotel and Restaurant Workers. She was the first woman to serve on a national contract committee to negotiate equal pay for women, and the first female officer of a union local. She also was involved with the local chapter of the lnternational Ladies Garment Workers Union. For many decades she was on the Executive Committee of the AFL-CIO. She was also one of the two National Committeewomen from Minnesota for the national Democratic Party.She was a member of the DFL Feminist Caucus. She always said she was involved in politics as a means to her end of education and jobs.

    n 2013, the Minnesota Legislature and the Governor established a law authorizing the placement of a statue of Nellie Stone Johnson in the Capitol and funded $30,000 of the cost.The Department of Administration and Historical Society estimate the total cost will be approximately $110,000. Roughly $55,000 has been raised in addition to the initial $30,000 state appropriation.

    There is no such recognition of women or African Americans at the Capitol. We need to make the Capitol relevant to present-day Minnesotans. Roughly $25,000 more needs to be raised so this can become reality. Contributions should be made payable to Nellie Stone Johnson Capitol Fund and sent to Union Bank, 312 Central Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55414. The federal tax number for this charitable 501c3 is ElN75-3220721.

    Ginny Watkins


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