Monday, August 13, 2007

Feel like spot-lighting this

Irene Morgan Kirkaldy died at age 90.

Who was Ms. Kirkaldy, you wonder?
Kirkaldy, born Irene Morgan in Baltimore in 1917, was arrested in 1944 for refusing to give up her seat on a Greyhound bus heading from Gloucester to Baltimore, and for resisting arrest.

1944--eleven years before Rosa Parks.
Her case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by an NAACP lawyer named Thurgood Marshall, who later became the first black justice on the high court.

The Supreme Court held in June 1946 that Virginia law requiring the races to be separated on interstate buses -- even making passengers change seats during their journey to maintain separation if the number of passengers changed -- was an invalid interference in interstate commerce.

At the time, the case received little attention, and not all bus companies complied with the ruling at first, but it paved the way for civil rights victories to come, including Parks' famous stand on a local bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955.

Kirkaldy also inspired the first Freedom Ride in 1947, when 16 civil rights activists rode buses and trains through the South to test the Supreme Court decision.


Asked where her courage came from that day, Kirkaldy said simply: "I can't understand how anyone would have done otherwise."

She was not part of any organized movement, unlike Parks, who was an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People when she challenged segregation.

No comments: