Why One Rebellious Woman Walked 25k Miles

Mildred Norman, aka The Peace Pilgrim, crossed the country six times on foot in order to spread her message

Aaron Nichols
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readOct 27, 2021


Photo: Benick via WikiMedia/CC BY Wouterhagens

What’s the first thing you think of when I say “1950s”? Is it mad-men suits and sexism? The beginnings of suburbia? The Korean war? McCarthyism? A room full of suit-and-cocktail-dress-clad humans who are all puffing down on cigarettes?

Through our modern lens, the 1950s seem like a hellscape. Yet, as in every era, there were people going against the grain, boldly defying the status quo.

The Peace Pilgrim is my personal favorite.

“She walked more than 25,000 miles, carrying in her blue tunic her only possessions. She crossed America for nearly three decades, bearing the simplest of messages: This is the way of peace; overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”

From unassuming beginnings

Nothing in her early lifestyle foreshadowed that she’d live out her later life as a penniless, world-peace-preaching nomad.

The woman who would become The Peace Pilgrim, change millions of lives, and be investigated by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI for “un-American…