Lucille Times, who helped inspire Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, dies of Covid, aged 100
- Lucille Times, a civil rights leader who launched a Montgomery bus boycott six months before Rosa Parks, has died at the age of 100.
- Times began her boycott after bus driver James Blake attempted to run her off the road.
- Six months later, Blake was the same bus driver who had Parks arrested after she refused to move from the front of the bus.
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Lucille Times, the woman who sparked a boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus system six months before Rosa Parks' more well-known protest, died last week from a Covid infection. She was 100.
In June 1955, Times had an altercation with James Blake, a Montgomery bus driver. It was six months before Parks, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and other civil rights leaders launched a bus boycott in the city.
"The bus driver got angry and tried to run me off the road and into a ditch," Times said of Blake in a 2017 interview with Dr Felicia Bell at Troy University.
She and Blake exchanged words - he called her "a Black son of a b----" - that escalated into a physical confrontation. Police eventually broke up the pair but Times' interaction with Blake left an indelible mark.
"I called the bus office three times to report James Blake, but the owner of the bus company would never return my call," she told Bell. "I started the bus boycott the next day."
Times and her husband worked with their local NAACP chapter to start the boycott. She began by driving her car around the Montgomery area offering rides to Black people she saw waiting for the bus. Eventually, she and her husband started a hotline out of the cafe they ran, allowing locals to call and request rides.
Six months after Times' boycott and ride service began, 42-year-old Rosa Parks boarded a bus driven by James Blake - the same driver who tried to run Times off the road. Parks sat in the front section of the bus, which was reserved for white customers.
Blake demanded that she move. Parks refused and was arrested.
Parks' arrest sparked off a more comprehensive Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted for more than a year and resulted in the desegregation of the city's transportation system.
But Times' contribution to the civil rights fight in Montgomery should not be underestimated: "Lucille was loaded for bear, and she wouldn't back down from nothing," her nephew, Daniel Nichols, told The New York Times. "She was full steam ahead."
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