Irene M. Kirkaldy; Case Spurred Freedom Rides –

I ask myself why we don’t know more about the ordinary people who made extraordinary contributions to our lives. I don’t comb the obits for special people – the Washington Post puts them on the front page for me.

Irene Morgan Kirkaldy, 90, who died of Alzheimer’s disease Aug. 10 at her home in Gloucester, Va., quietly changed history in 1944 when she refused to give up her seat on a crowded Greyhound bus to a white couple. Her case resulted in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in interstate transportation and sparked the first Freedom Ride in 1947.

Mrs. Kirkaldy’s defiance of the discriminatory Jim Crow laws of Virginia came 11 years before Rosa Parks’s similar act in Montgomery, Ala., galvanized the civil rights movement and made her a national icon. Without fanfare, Mrs. Kirkaldy’s early case provided a winning strategy for fighting racial segregation in the courts.

Today’s blog title comes from this paragraph:

In a daring and dangerous move, she tore up the warrant and threw it out the window. The deputy then grabbed her arm and tried to yank her off the bus. She didn’t go peacefully.

Good for her. Good for us.

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