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An African-American Woman Describes Segregated Buses in Montgomery, Alabama

During the Montgomery bus boycott, researchers from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee visited Montgomery to learn more about the boycott and document it. Researcher Willie Lee interviewed an African-American woman who worked as a domestic, who described how black riders had been treated on the buses. She was interviewed at one of the several car pool stations established to transport the boycotters.

This stuff has been going on for a long time. To tell you the truth, it's been happening ever since I came here before [World War II]. But here in the last few years they've been getting worse and worse. When you get on the bus they yell: "Get on back there"... and half of the time they wouldn't take your transfer, then they make you get up so white men could sit down [when] there were no seats in the back. And you know about a year ago they put one of the high school girls in jail 'cause she wouldn't move. They should have boycotted the buses then. But we are sure fixing 'em now and I hope we don't ever start back riding.... 

They shouldn't make me get up for some white person when I paid the same fare and I got on first. And they should stop being so nasty... We pay just like the white folks... [The bus companies] are the ones losing the money and our preachers say we will not ride unless they give us what we want...

Source | Excerpt from an interview conducted by Willie Lee (researcher, Fisk University), January 1956; from George Mason University Center for History and New Media and Stanford University School of Education, Historical Thinking Matters,
Interviewer | Willie Lee
Interviewee | Anonymous
Item Type | Oral History
Cite This document | “An African-American Woman Describes Segregated Buses in Montgomery, Alabama,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 29, 2023,

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