Like so many strong black women, Nellie Stone Johnson mentored strong men.
Among them were Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) who would go on to be influential in Congress as a Civil Rights proponent, before he became Vice President forLyndon B. Johnson. As well as Humphrey's protege Walter Mondale
who, later as Vice President, sent her to Africa for the State Department.
Stone was born in 1905 in Dakota County, Minnesotato a college-educated African American mother who also had French and American Indian ancestry. And a father who, as a member of the #Nonpartisan League, helped organize farmers into the Milk Producers Association. Their family farm was one of the first owned by African Americans in the state.
Her high school education ended at tenth grade. Still, she attended college where she got her GED and studied agriculture, chemistry and political science. She funded her education with money she earned from trapping muscrat and mink.
Stone went on to become the first African American elected to public office in the state of Minnesota, as a member of the State Library Board.
Stone led an initiative for the first government Fair Employment Practices department in the country. As a member of the NAACP she authored the initiative that would lead to the desegregation of the US Military.
Her work found her moving through several positions which afforded her a rich network of acquaintances in diverse sectors, and opportunities for involvement in local unions. She invested her income in Equal Rights, by donating to Freedom Marches in the 1960s.
She eventually became an entrepreneur, opening a seamstress business in Minneapolis' Lumber Exchange building, where, for some thirty years, she came in contact with business leaders in the state while she remained involved in shaping local politics and national civic engagement leadership.
She died at age 93 in 2002.