Trailblazing feminist and labor activist Mildred (Millie) Jeffrey died yesterday at age 93 of natural causes in Detroit, Michigan. “Today, I’ve lost a very dear friend,” US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) told the Associated Press. “Millie is an icon in our state and nation in the struggle for civil rights, women’milds rights, and workers’ rights. Millie’s life epitomizes the principles by which we all strive to live our lives – justice, equality, and compassion.”
“We’ll miss Millie Jeffrey at the March for Women’s Lives,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “If she could, she would be there on April 25 as she was for the last 40 years, working not only for the labor movement but as an icon of the women’s rights movement.”
Jeffrey, a feminist, civil rights, and labor rights leader, was the first woman to head a United Auto Workers department, the then-newly formed Women’s Bureau. In 1971, Jeffrey co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) and was one of the early leaders of the organization. “NWPC and women everywhere have lost a great leader who was larger-than-life,” said Roselyn O’Connell, NWPC president. Jeffrey joined the NAACP in the 1940s and later helped organize Americans for Democratic Action.