Juanita Nelson has died at the age of 91 in Greenfield, Massachusetts. She was a longtime civil rights activist, war tax resister and farmer. She was first arrested in the early 1940s protesting lunch counter segregation in Washington, D.C. During World War II, she met her future husband, Wally Nelson, while he was in jail for refusing to fight in the war. In the late 1940s, they helped organize the first Freedom Rides in the South. At the same time, they stopped paying taxes for war. In 2005, Democracy Now! interviewed Juanita about war tax resistance.
Juanita Nelson: “A group called Peacemakers had been started, and we became members of that, either the first or second year that it was formed, and it saw nonviolence as a way of life, not simply against war, but the things it made for war, the things it made for poverty, all that sort of thing. And so we just didn’t pay taxes, and we never filed after that. And neither of us had paid taxes very much anyway. We never had much money anyhow. But I always wanted to make at least 10 cents more, so I could thumb my nose at the government.”