Gloria Wilson scrambled up the hard way, rabble-rousing from a welfare rights group as a single mother to the front line of ACORN demonstrations. She wound up in an important seat on the Little Rock Board of Directors. For this remarkable achievement, her family got to buy some paid obituary space for her in today’s Democrat-Gazette.
ACORN, the grassroots group founded in Little Rock by Wade Rathke, has a tribute on its website. It’s an excerpt from a warm, longer piece by Rathke, which isn’t currently linkable. But we’ll provide it when we get it.
Wilson’s advocacy, for example, prevented cuts in bus service, undoubtedly a small thing to the people who comfortably commute in personal cars every day, but a very big thing to her people. Wrote Rathke about meeting Wilson as he recruited members 36 years ago for his young organization:
When I hit Gloria’s door I found a young single mother with a couple of kids running around. I also found someone who was angry and who was ready. She liked every word I had to say. All I had to do was listen to her issues and keep saying yes, these where the kinds of things an organization like ACORN could handle if we could organize people to act. I can’t remember but she may have been the very first member that I signed up on the doors. Kids or no kids, I pulled her out of the house that minute to start hitting the doors of her neighborhood. … From the first day I met she was pleading with pride that screamed that she was somebody who meant something past the stereotypes of welfare and women and whatever. She was right. She was somebody very, very special. She proved it a hundred times. In this life she made a difference.