Irene MorganOther Figures Baltimore, MD
Eleven years before Rosa Parks, Irene Morgan was arrested in Virginia for refusing to give her bus seat to a white passenger. She was convicted on October 18, 1944 at the Middlesex County Circuit Court, but appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court where her conviction was upheld. With help from NAACP lawyers, including Thurgood Marshall, Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in March 1946. Though narrowly interpreted, the Court's decision struck down state laws requiring segregated seating for interstate bus travel. In 1947 the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sent 16 volunteers on the Journey of Reconciliation to test compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling. Fourteen years later, however, the unconstitutional practice of racially segregated seating on interstate buses continued throughout the Deep South, prompting CORE to organize the Freedom Rides in 1961 in an effort to focus national attention on the issue.