September 3, 2014

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February is Black History Month: The brave women who led the way for Rosa Parks and others to come

Irene Morgan (April 9, 1917 – August 10, 2007), later known as Irene Morgan Kirkaldy, was an important predecessor to Rosa Parks in the successful fight to overturn segregation laws in the United States.

Like the more famous Parks, but eleven years earlier, in 1944, the 27-year-old Baltimore-born African-American was arrested and jailed in Virginia for refusing to give up her seat on an interstate Greyhound bus to a white person.

When the bus driver stopped in Middlesex County, Virginia, and summoned the sheriff, who tried to arrest Morgan, she tore up the arrest warrant, kicked the sheriff in the groin and fought with the deputy who tried to drag her off the bus.

Irene Morgan appealed her case on the conviction for violating the segregation laws. After exhausting appeals in state courts, she and her lawyers appealed her conviction on constitutional grounds all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1946, the justices agreed to hear the case.