Irene Morgan’s act of courage, alone and unsupported in Saluda, Virginia, in 1944, deserves the attention now that she didn’t get then. Her refusal and her subsequent challenge to the Virginia law then in effect created the legal precedent that vindicated the efforts of 26-year-old Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and many others during and before the Montgomery, Alabama, Bus Boycott 11 years later, in 1955.
I never heard of her until I saw the Gazette-Journal’s notice of the ceremony last week, and she was Rosa Parks before Rosa Parks was Rosa Parks. Unlike Parks (47 at the time), who had an organized support system in Montgomery as well as a PR machine created by MLK (who was unknown and 26 at the time), Morgan (27) was all alone, 25 miles from her mother’s house and a long way from her destination in Baltimore. Her decision to refuse to relinquish her seat on the Greyhound bus was spontaneous, as opposed to Parks...
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