Freedom Fighter Joan Lee Nelson Leaves Rich Legacy

Tribute To Joan Lee Nelson

Written By Megan Mottley (Cousin To Joan Lee Nelson)

Joan Lee Nelson Transitioned On September 18, 2016 At 70. She Leaves A Rich Legacy Behind.


Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother. Aunt. Cousin. Freedom Fighter!

Freedom Fighter Joan Lee Nelson was born in 1946 to Edward Lee and Alversa Williams Lee in Lexington, TN. She was one of 13 siblings and was brought up in a home where faith and fairness were readily taught. Due to her upbringing, Joan developed a passion early on to stand up for her civil rights as well as that of others.


In her teen years, before graduating from Manassas High School, Joan had already participated in a number of sit-ins and protests and was arrested on a few occasions as a result. In 1963, Joan had the amazing opportunity to walk in the historic March on Washington and years later in 1995, Joan returned to Washington D.C. for the Million Man March as one of the few women to participate. Joan continued supporting the efforts for civil rights and other historical movements throughout her 20s and 30s.


With family being her foundation, Joan joined forces with her sister Elaine Lee Turner in 1983 to launch Heritage Tours, a tour of some of Memphis’ most prominent historic sites. To this day, residents and tourists alike can be mesmerized by a walking tour of Beale Street as well as a 3-4 hour tour of the W.C. Handy Museum and the Slavehaven Underground Railroad Museum/Burkle Estate Museum.



Slavehaven Museum Was Voted One Of The Top 10 Memphis Attractions By TravelTheWorld

Joan wore several hats and was cherished by men and women far and wide. She was the recipient of several honors/awards including the Memphis Civil Rights Living Legends Award. Her consistent efforts to create cultural awareness will live on through every person that she touched and through every idea that she brought to fruition.

Joan’s most honorable role was the dedication that she gave her family and dearest friends. She was a wonderful wife and extraordinary mother. She was emphatic about knowing who she was and encouraged others to do the same. The passion behind sharing artifacts, history, and tear-jerking revelations at Slavehaven didn’t stop there, Joan along with several of her sisters, helped to trace their family’s roots back to its earliest ancestors. Joan was able to leave valuable information behind for her children, nieces, nephews and other relatives so in turn they can carry the torch on into the next generation. Joan’s gifts will continue to unfold for a lifetime.


Joan will be greatly missed. Photos of dear family and friends along with Wake and Funeral Details Are Below.

Pray for Joan’s family and friends as they mourn the loss of a National Civil Rights Leader and a Memphis Great. She leaves to carry on her legacy and cherish her memory, her Former husband Luscious Nelson; two sons, Gregory (Tameka) and Brian;  a grandson, Gregory Kahlil; sisters, Ernestine Lee Henning (Bishop Cornal Garnet Henning) of Los Angeles, Sandra Faye Lee Swift (Odell) of Louisville, Brenda Aleece Lee Turner, Elaine Lee Turner, Peggy Jayne Lee (David) and Susan Carlotta Lee; brothers, Wesley Gene Lee, Clifford Daniel Lee, Mark David Anthony Lee, Timothy Claudius Lee and Ekpe Abioto (Fatou). Two brothers preceded her in death, Robert Arnold Lee and Lewis Edward Lee.



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September 30, 2016 | 4 – 6 p.m.

R.S. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home

374 Vance Avenue

Memphis, TN 38126

Funeral Services

Saturday, October 1, 2016 | 11 a.m.

St. Andrew A.M.E. Church

867 South Parkway East

Memphis, TN 38106

For More Information On The Slavehaven Museum Or To Schedule A Tour, Call 901.527.3427

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