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News | March 13, 2019

National Women’s History Month: Lillie Mae Brown, champion for women’s and minority rights at DSCR

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs

In 1974, Richard Nixon became the first United States president forced to resign from office, Muhammad Ali regained his heavyweight boxing title, knocking out George Foreman in the eighth round in what was dubbed the Rumble in the Jungle, a 26-year old author named Stephen King, published his debut novel “Carrie,” the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois, became the world’s tallest building and Lillie Mae Brown, a systems analyst at what was then named Defense General Supply Center in Richmond, Virginia, was breaking down gender and racial barriers.

In May of that year, Brown filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office alleging that the installation discriminated against her on the basis of gender, age and race. With her allegation, others emerged with their own testimonies and on Aug. 26, 1975, a class action lawsuit was put into motion. Two years later, on Sept. 19, 1977, a court issued a decree paving the way for great advancements in equality for Defense Supply Center Richmond employees.

The changes were significant. By 1986, nine years after the decree, minority representation in general schedule (GS) grades 11 to 14 rose from five percent to 20 percent and female representation went from 19 percent to 40 percent. There were still no minorities at the GS-15 level, but representation went from zero to 12 percent in GS-14 positions. Female representation at the GS-14 level also went from zero to 24 percent and from 17 percent to 25 percent for GS-15.

Today, women represent a little more than 43 percent of the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation workforce with close to 21 percent being African-American.

Brown also made significant accomplishments in her technical field. She developed standard bar-code technology for the Department of Defense that improved receipt processing and stock-location accuracy in depot receiving and storage operations. She also helped create a technology laboratory that tested new bar-code labels and radio-frequency identification tags.

Brown died in 2006. She was posthumously inducted into the DLA Aviation Hall of Fame in 2011 and the DLA Hall of Fame in 2018.

According to DLA Aviation Hall of Fame records, “Brown was not just a true leader, but an icon in Bellwood history.”