Born in 1931, George Wiley grew up in Warwick, RI, graduated from the University of Rhode Island, and later went on to receive a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Cornell University. In 1964 he left academia to work with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and later founded the National Welfare Rights Organization. His tragic death in an accident in 1973 left a legacy of achievement and an agenda that was not yet complete.
Founded in 1981 by anti-poverty activist, Henry Shelton, the George Wiley Center incorporates the values that were central to our namesake George Wiley's belief that by empowering people, social change is possible. Henry was deeply involved in various and interconnected activist efforts in Rhode Island for over 40 years. Henry passed in 2016, leaving a legacy that lives on in his accomplishments for RI as well as in the ongoing struggles for justice. We continue our mission at the George Wiley Center in the memory of George Wiley and Henry Shelton, and all who have lived and worked for justice, that through organizing we know is possible!