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CRAIG, LILLIAN

CRAIG, LILLIAN (12 June 1937-14 Nov. 1979), a leader in the local welfare-rights movement and founder of the Natl. Welfare Rights Organization (1967), was born in Cleveland to an abusive, alcoholic father, placed in foster care at 14 after her mother's death, then sent to Marycrest School for Girls. She had to refuse a scholarship to St. John's College because it made no allowances for living expenses.

As a divorce mother of 3, Craig found it too difficult to work and care for her children, so applied for welfare. She found support at St. Paul's Community Church, a member of INNER CITY PROTESTANT PARISH (ICPP), with Clevelanders United for Adequate Welfare (CUFAW), a group of welfare mothers who helped each other and by the mid-1960s became politically active, working for larger welfare payments, free school lunches, and better treatment from the welfare bureaucracy. Along with STUDENTS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY members Carol McEldowney and Kathy Boudin, Craig wrote The Welfare Rights Manual, in "people terms."

Craig engaged in sit-ins, marches, and public confrontations, making national headlines in 1966 when she grabbed a microphone from Sargent Shriver, head of the Office of Economic Opportunities, confronting him about welfare policies. Her actions made it difficult for her to secure employment. She worked at the McCafferty Health Ctr. from 1971-79, and in 1976 became director of the Near West Side Multi-Service Ctr. She also volunteered at the Crisis Ctr. and served on a child-abuse task force.


Grevatt, Marge. Just a Woman (1981).