Subversive Historian – 07/16/09

Before Rosa, There Was Irene

Back in the day on July 16th, 1944, an African-American woman named Irene Morgan refused to give up her seat to a white couple on a Greyhound bus. Feeling ill, the young twenty-seven year old Baltimore native was heading from Virginia to Maryland for a checkup following a recent miscarriage. When a white couple boarded the bus, the driver ordered Morgan to give up her seat but she promptly refused. Eleven years before Rosa Parks, Morgan’s defiance had her arrested and jailed but not before she ripped up the warrant and kicked the sheriff on the scene in the family jewels! Morgan was later convicted and fined $10 dollars, but appealed the decision all the way up to the Supreme Court. With Thurgood Marshall on her side, Morgan won the case against Virginia two years after the whole ordeal.

The Congress of Racial Equality, emboldened by the decision, organized the “Journey of Reconciliation,” the very next year to test segregation on interstate travel. All along the journey, they sang, “Get on the bus, sit anyplace, ‘Cause Irene Morgan won her case.”

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