The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Ordinary People Can Do Extraordinary Things

Sep 13, 2021

On August 16, Lucille Times died at the age of 101. She was an ordinary woman who fiercely paved the way for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

On June 15, 1955, Times was out in her car in Montgomery, Alabama, doing an errand when a bus driver tried to push her car off the road—three times! He parked the bus, ran over to her window and called her a “black son of a bitch.” Mrs. Times replied, “you white son of a bitch,” and shortly after felt a blow. A white police officer had come up behind her and hit her with his flashlight. She told the story later and remembered the officer saying, “Do you know that was a white man you called a son of a bitch?” Mrs. Times replied, “Do you know I’m a black woman that he called a black son of a bitch?”

With her husband Charles, who had served in the army air corps during WW II, Times owned and ran a café that became a center of the Montgomery black community. Like any black resident of Montgomery, she understood what happened all the time to black people. She decided to drive to bus stops to offer black people rides.

After the incident with the white bus driver, she and her husband called E.D. Nixon, a community activist and head of the local NAACP chapter. They began to plan a way for black people to boycott buses in Montgomery. In December that year, NAACP member Rosa Parks took her famous stance on a Montgomery bus, driven by the same white bus driver who had tried to run Mrs. Times off the road in June.

In retaliation, lawmakers in Alabama outlawed the NAACP in their state in 1956. At great risk to themselves, Mr. and Mrs. Times allowed the local chapter to use their home for secret meetings. They later hosted participants for the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

In the 2000s, Lucille Times received some recognition for her everyday brave efforts against racism in the South. Her neighbors created a community garden and named it in honor of her and E.D. Nixon. Lucille Times was one who chose to make a difference, despite constant threats made by white racists.