Tough Broads – Joan Trumpauer Mullholland

At 19, Joan Trumpauer Mullholland found herself incarcerated on death row in a prison notorious for its ill treatment of inmates and the occasional “disappearance.” She had been disowned by her family, shunned by her community, and had undergone psychiatric evaluations .

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Her crime? She was a young, educated, white, southern woman who fought doggedly for civil rights.

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She had participated in a dozen sit ins, had ridden with the Freedom Riders, had been dragged from a protest at the Jackson Woolworth counter by her hair, and had left Duke University to enroll in the all black college, Tougaloo. Despite spending two months in prison, receiving innumerable hateful letters from strangers, and even being hunted by the KKK, Joan refused to give in. 

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She had made a promise to herself at only 10, when she began recognizing that the morality she had been taught in church was in direct opposition with the way society treated black people, and when, on a dare, she had walked into the African American side of town and seen the fear and the economic disparity there. She vowed then to do what she could to help change things. Joan has spent her life doing just that.

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At 72, she continues to speak and to fight for equality. A foundation in her name works to educate youth about the civil rights movement and to train them to be agents for positive social change in their own communities.

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Let nothing stop you.

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