Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History, Volume VII

Thursday, May 1, 2008
This is Johnnie Carr. She died of a stroke on February 22, 2008 in Montgomery, Alabama, at the age of 97.

While the name "Rosa Parks" is the one people usually associate with women of color in the Civil Rights Movement, I would submit that Johnnie Carr is the unsung heroine of that story.

Mrs. Carr succeeded the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association in 1967, a post she held at her death. It was that group that led the boycott of city buses in 1955 after Mrs. Parks, a black seamstress, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to whites on a crowded bus. As the civic group’s president, Mrs. Carr helped lead several initiatives to improve race relations and conditions for blacks. She was involved in a lawsuit to desegregate Montgomery schools, with her son, Arlam Jr., then 13, the named plaintiff.

In a time when women were considered second class citizens, and black people were considered third class citizens, Mrs. Carr not only stood up, but did so in a way that resulted in real change. Articulate, dignified, and tenacious, her work helped lead the way at a time when those in power were ferociously defending the status quo.

When asked about her life in civil rights, Mrs. Carr responded, “When we first started, we weren’t thinking about history, we were thinking about the conditions and the discrimination.”

Dedicated, feisty, unrepentant, and yes, ill-behaved. A life well-lived, Mrs. Carr. Thank you for your work.


H/T to The Associated Press, for the background material.

7 comments:

Shawn Powers said...

Awesome. :)

Janiece Murphy said...

Shawn, she surely was.

Anne C. said...

I love this series, Janiece. Thanks for doing it!

Michelle K said...

Lovely!

vince said...

Most awesome series. A network should do a show like this and make you the researcher/host.

Janiece Murphy said...

Vince, I have a day job. Which I really, really like.

But I'd totally love to do this as a pre-retirement job.

Jeri said...

I do enjoy this series too! If I run across any candidates, I'll shoot them your way.

Funny how the research-intensive stories - you know the ones that get fact checked? - take a LOT of time to write.