Irene Morgan Kirkaldy, a black woman in 1944, refused to give up her seat on a Greyhound bus headed to Baltimore. She was arrested and jailed for her bold move, but her contributions resonated. Kirkaldy died last week.
Irene Morgan Kirkaldy, a black woman whose refusal in 1944 to give up her seat to a white passenger is seen as a precursor to the US civil rights movement, has died at the age of 90, reports said Monday.
Kirkaldy’s determination, more than a decade before Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a city bus to allow a white person to sit down, led to her arrest and incarceration and eventually to the Supreme Court, which said the law used against her was unconstitutional.
Kirkaldy, nee Morgan, was taking a Greyhound bus from her mother’s home in the state of Virginia to Baltimore in neighboring Maryland.
A few miles after she boarded, several white passengers got on, and Morgan and another black passenger were ordered by the driver to move to the back of the bus.
When they refused, the driver stopped the bus and called law enforcement officials, who showed up with an arrest warrant.
What amazes me about this story is that 1944 was not that long ago. My father was born in 1942, and my best friend’s father who fought in the Korean war, had to sit on the back of the bus. And while the SCOTUS relies on the belief that racism is over and all that was done to people of color in this country has in some way been rectified, those of us that can see get to sit with the bitter reality that it wasn’t that long ago, and not much has really changed.
Irene Morgan Kirkaldy was truly a hero.