Interview with Senator Roxanne Jones
QUESTION 6
PAUL STECKLER:

So can you start again and talk about--

ROXANNE JONES:

Yeah, oh, I'm sorry. Ah, what happened, one of the first actions that we took was at the meeting it was a young lady who had went to the Salvation Army, she was unwed mother. She had two children and she went there to get some help for Christmas because we organized around November. And so when we- she went there and they denied her help because she didn't have a husband. So one of the first things we did, decided to move on there and to go there the next day and we did that. And about 50 of us mothers went down there and we changed their policy. So that was an action that immediately got around in the community. And other welfare mothers who hadn't joined immediately came to join the group. And that was one of the first things we did to more or less advertise where we were and we gained a victory, which was good. The first thing we did was gain the victory. Then we began to move on the fact of, ah, rotten meats in our area. We lived in South Philadelphia where, where, ah, there was a lot of stores that had rotten meat and giving inferior meats to, you know, welfare people. And we immediately got meat and we had a big church that we organized and then we set up and we had LNI there and the health department and we exposed those stores that had rotten meat that night and changed that policy in the community. And other welfare mothers liked that. Then we began to talk about jobs, the lack of daycare, the lack of jobs, and the lack of being able to go to college. And ah, at this point we're really organized, then we, this is the next year we've joined ah, National Welfare Rights and, um, January of 1968, ah, Hazel Leslie, the president of, of Welfare Rights passed away that April. And I was elected chairman that June, and, I mean citywide chairman. And six months later I was a member of National Welfare Rights, a coordinating member. And then things were really moving. In Philadelphia we, we were tired of dealing with the door to door salesmen. And so I, I said well, about three or four of us welfare mothers went down to Gimbels and, and, ah, we were called stupid for wanting, ah, credit, who did we think we was. And so we immediately decided to set up a demonstration. At this point we had organized Friends of Welfare, people like Dr. David Gracie and Father Paul Washington, they had began to organize a Friends of Welfare Rights group. These were people that wasn't on welfare, prominent people, ah, people on the main line that was really feeling sorry about Dr. King's death and they really began to see that we had been treated so unjustly, as mothers loving their kids, like working people. And also mothers saving taxpayers money because if we had to throw up our hands and say we couldn't cope, then these cities would have to pay more money to the foster mothers to take care of their children. So what happened after we organized this group and we wanted credit, we informed them and I called Dr. Wiley and told him I would always call him and let him know what we were doing in Philadelphia. And he thought it was a great idea. And as you know, we won that victory within one hour after demonstrating at Litt Brothers. Then all the other stores fell in line. All the other stores fell in line, ah, even Sears here in Philadelphia. Ah, they had trouble with Sears, other parts of this, of the, of the nation. But we won victory at Sears. One store was called Grant's and we had trouble there, we had to turn White to get credit there.

PAUL STECKLER:

So of the things you were doing--