Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Bus Ride in Montgomery Alabama 1955

A Bus Ride in Montgomery Alabama: 1955

In addition to the racist bus statutes, white bus drivers often mistreated their black passengers. They were known to be verbally abusive, to skip all-black stops, and would do things such as collect a fare but drive off before the black person had time to board the bus. This behavior was not only expected but also resignedly accepted as the status quo in Alabama. Resource: Heroines in History

Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin, Aurelia S. Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith. All of these women were brave trailblazers. The four often unsung predecessors to Rosa Parks, were important participants in the Civil Rights Movement. Their quiet, dignified, stand for justice are equal in nature. They each risk their own personal safety and that of their families, possible mistreatment in jail, lack of employment and educational opportunities to stand proud in a society of oppression. They, each in their own way, created a tipping point in history. Washington Post: The Ladies Before Rosa

Claudette Colvin: was born in 1939 (Age 77)

On March 2, 1955 Claudette Colvin, a 15 year old student, refused to give up her seat to a white woman. She told the bus driver, who demanded she move,  "It's my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it's my constitutional right."  

She spent time in jail, was branded a trouble maker, and was required by circumstances to leave school. The Life of Claudette Colvin Wikipedia: Claudette Colvin

Aurelia Shines Browder: January 29, 1919 - February 4, 1971

Eight months before the oft-remembered Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger, Aurelia Browder made history. Wikipedia: Aurelia S. Browder She was the lead plaintiff in the law suit Browder Vs Gayle. This was the lawsuit that caused an end to the separate but equal laws of the land.

Mary Louise Smith Was born in 1937 (Age 79)

Mary Louise Smith was 18 when she sat for justice on a Montgomery bus. The Forgiveness Foundation tells of her important role in the action that led to her participation in litigation the turned the corner of history. 

Mary Louise Smith found her seat on a bus that was not full. However, all the other seats were soon taken as the driver picked up additional passengers along the route. A white traveler stepped on the bus and the driver directed all black people in a certain section to give up their seats and stand. All of the black bus riders complied, except for Mary Louise Smith. She refused and was arrested. The $9.00 fine imposed on Ms. Smith was paid by her father.

Mary Louise Smith has dedicated her life to obtaining equal voting rights and supporting other civil rights causes.

Susie McDonald and Rosa Parks

Very little information can be found regarding Susie McDonald. However, we know that she was a participant in the Browder_v._Gayle Court Action.

Rosa Parks became was put forth by the civil rights community as the person most likely to best represent the movement. Her actions were especially heroic as they came after the resistance to segregation had fomented into a volatile issue.

Books relevant to the Civil Rights Movement can be found at Jacquie's Store