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Nellie and her six siblings grew up on a dairy farm near Hinckley, Minnesota. Her father was a member of the Non-Partisan League,
a radical rural organization. Johnson grew up with a strong tradition of support for education.
Her mother and grandmother were teachers with an interest in political philosophy.
Her father was a school board member in Dakota County.
She graduated from Hinckley High School and left home at 17 to finish high school through the GED program at the University of Minnesota.
For over 30 years, she owned and operated Nellie's Alterations in downtown Minneapolis.
She had a long and distinguished record of public service in support of the advancement of minority concerns,
the rights of workers, and equal opportunities for all people. Johnson was a life member of the NAACP and
the National Council of Negro Women; a member of the National Coalition of Labor Women, the National League of Women Voters,
the DFL Affirmative Action Commission, and the DFL Feminist Caucus, a former board member of the Minneapolis Urban League,
and recipient of the Urban League's Cecil E. Newman Humanitarian Award.
She died on April 2, 2002 at 96.
In 2001 the Nellie Stone Johnson school was built in the Hawthorne neighborhood of North Minneapolis.
The area known today as the Old Highland Neighborhood was opened for settlement in 1857. During the period of the 1860s much of Old Highland was platted. A major growth of the Old Highland Neighborhood occurred during the 1880s and 1890s. This period saw large architecturally designed and contractor-built residences of distinctive period styles. The population was generally merchants who operated businesses along Washington, Plymouth, and West Broadway.
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