22 april 1968 & welfare activists jailed after protesting on capitol hill
#OTD 22 April 1968 The National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) held a vigil on Capitol Hill to protest against Congressional changes to welfare legislation. There were 39 activists: most were individuals who received welfare and the others were clergy. Their intention was to hold a vigil from midnight to 1pm. However, at 3am they were arrested by Capitol Police and taken to the Women's Detention Center (1010 North Capitol St NW). Bail was set for $300--in collateral and not cash bonds. Johnnie Tillmon, NWRO president, was one of the 31 mothers arrested.
George Wiley, NWRO executive director, attended the Black United Front meeting that night and shared "that because of the refusal to accept cash bonds, many of the mothers arrested would have to spend the night in the Women's Detention House." A BUF delegation went down to the jail to support those arrested.
22 April is also significant because it was the day that the Poor People's Campaign was scheduled to begin. It was postponed due to the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Please comment below. Do you, a family member or neighbor remember the Women's Detention Center? Were you one of the activists arrested? Did you know Johnnie Tillmon and/or George Wiley? Were you one of the BUF members who went to the jail? Did you work at the jail? Do you remember Mrs. Kenneth Hardy, head of the jail? You may comment privately here.
Photo: Courtesy DC Public Library, Dig DC Washington Free Press, 22 11 November 1967. Photographer unknown.
"39 Arrested at Welfare Vigil on 'Hill'" Evening Star 22 April 1968.
Marjory Stamberg, "Sheila Ryan Beaten by Prison Guard," Washington Free Press 11 November 1967, p. 4.
Black United Front 22 April Meeting Minutes, Pride Inc., Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
Anne M. Valk, Radical Sisters: Second-Wave Feminism and Black Liberation in Washington, DC, 2010.