Civil rights leader Lucille Times dies at 100

She is best known for launching a boycott of city buses in Montgomery six months before Rosa Parks was arrested

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Montgomery civil rights activist Lucille Times passed away Monday evening at the age of 100.

Her death was confirmed by her nephew Daniel Nichols to WSFA.

Times is best known for launching a boycott of city buses in Montgomery six months before Rosa Parks was famously arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white male passenger.

Lucille Times theGRIO.com
(Credit: Troy University)

Times began her own boycott of the buses in 1955 after getting into a fistfight with James F. Blake – the same Montgomery bus driver that demanded Parks give up her seat on his bus.

“I started the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” Times said in 2017 during “A Conversation with Lucille Times”  at the Rosa Parks Museum.

“The bus driver got angry and tried to run me off the road and into a ditch,” Times said. The incident led to a verbal confrontation during which she laid hands on the man and two Montgomery policemen had to separate the two.

Times wasn’t arrested, but the incident inspired her to take action.

“I called the bus office three times to report James Blake, but the owner of the bus company would never return my call. I started the bus boycott the next day,” she said. 

From there, Times began to provide transportation for Black residents of Montgomery who were waiting at bus stops. When the Montgomery Bus Boycott officially began, others joined in on what she had been doing for months. While Times’s efforts faded away into obscurity, Parks’ defiance catapulted her into history.

Parks changed the course of history and sparked the civil rights movement on Dec. 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. That date is now regarded as Rosa Parks Day in recognition of her act of defiance, theGRIO previously reported. 

Parks was a seamstress on her way home from work when she took a seat in the front of the Black section of the Montgomery bus. The 42-year-old was then ordered by the driver to give up her seat to a white man when the bus became crowded. He was empowered by a statute that allowed the driver “powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus for the purposes of carrying out the provisions,” which enforced ‘separate but equal’ treatment.

Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and was arrested for disorderly conduct.

“It is hard for us today to imagine the type of treatment African Americans, particularly the African American women, had to endure during those times,” Rosa Parks Museum director Dr. Felicia Bell previously said. “There were many people who played a role in the events leading up to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We are grateful that Mrs. Times has shared her story with us so that we can share it with others.”

“You’ve got to fight…you’ve got to fight,” Times said, shaking a fist in the air. “You don’t get nothing for free. I’ve been a fighter all of my days.”

Lucille Times thegrio.com
(Credit: WSFA 12 News/screenshot)

One user wrote, “Not all heroes wear capes or seek recognition, but Ms. Lucille Times deserves her proper recognition for starting the fight for equality and civil rights for every Black person in America.”

Another wrote, “We went our whole lives learning about Rosa Parks telling that bus driver she wasn’t moving, but they never taught us about the Black lady who socked the exact same bus driver directly in his sh– 6 months earlier. I wonder why.”

Times and her husband Charlie participated in the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. As reported by WSFA 12 News, the couple were members of the NAACP, and charter members of multiple organizations and clubs. Their home, where they’d lived since 1939, has been on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage since 2007.

In Feb. 2017, Times won the Unsung Hero Award in Montgomery, per the report.

A public viewing is scheduled for Aug. 20 at Phillips-Riley Funeral Home in Montgomery. Funeral services will reportedly be held Sunday afternoon at St. Jude Catholic Church. Burial will follow in the Oakwood Annex Cemetery.

*This story contains additional reporting from theGRIO’s Stephanie Guerilus.

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