As remembered by Dr. Gwen Patton
They Stood up for Justice
by Dr. Gwen Patton
Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church began its celebration of Black History Month by serving as the venue to remember one of its most faithful members, Mrs. Aurelia Browder (1919-1971). Mrs. Browder was one of the most respected persons in the Montgomery community.
She was not only a pioneer civil/voting rights activist; she was a central figure in the Montgomery Bus Boycott Movement. Mrs. Browder, along with Claudette Colvin who was 16 years old at the time, Mrs. Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith (Ware) who was 18 years old at the time, filed the lawsuit against the seating patterns on city buses. All 4 ladies, and many others, had been mistreated and assaulted by bus drivers and policemen prior to December 5, 1955.
Butler Browder, son to Mrs. Browder, was determined that his mother and the other ladies be recognized for courage and that history record their brave acts of standing up for justice. It was this lawsuit that caused the Supreme Court to rule on 12/21/1956 that racist seating on public transportation was unconstitutional. The Court ordered immediate desegregation on the buses, thus, ending the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The Montgomery Improvement Association Foundation President Tommie Miller presented a plaque to Mrs. Mary Louise Smith-Ware for her truly quiet courage and dignity.
An historic marker to honor Mrs. Aurelia Browder will be unveiled in front of the Browder Family Home on May 11, 2004, the day they testified before Federal Judges Frank Johnson, Richard Rives and Seybourne Lynn about the indignities, manhandling and arrests they suffered by the hands of Montgomery authorities and bus drivers.
One of the best ways we can celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bus Boycott is by honoring my mother and these of tremendous valor, Butler Browder concluded.