1917 – August 10 – 2007
Irene Morgan was born the sixth of nine children into a Seventh-day Adventist family in Baltimore. It was when she was living as a mother of two in Gloucester, Virginia though, that her life was to change forever.
She was heading to Baltimore on a Greyhound bus to see a doctor when she was told to give up her seat in the “coloured” section so a white couple could sit down. Irene refused and was arrested – not before fighting one sheriff off. She was fined for resisting arrest, to which she plead guilty, and for not giving up her seat, which she fought all the way to the Supreme Court and won. Greyhound immediately instructed their drivers to not segregate their passengers. This case led the way to more victories for the fight against racial intolerance and famously preceded the Freedom Riders and Rosa Parks.
Irene Morgan said, “When something’s wrong, it’s wrong. It needs to be corrected.” In 2001 President Clinton awarded her the Presidential Citizens Medal, saying, “she took the first step on a journey that would change America forever.”