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Irene Morgan

Irene Morgan Kirkaldy

1917- 2007


Irene Morgan Kirkaldy is an African American woman who challenged the "Jim Crow" laws in 1944.

"Jim Crow" laws made it illegal for a black person to be seated on a bus if white people had to stand.
Black passengers had to give up their seat to any white passenger.
Both black and white passengers paid the same price for a seat on the bus.

Irene grew up in Baltimore, where "Jim Crow" laws were not used.
By 1944, Irene was married with two children living with her husband in Baltimore.
Mrs. Morgan took a bus from Baltimore to Hayes, Virginia to visit her mother.

Virginia did enforce "Jim Crow" laws, and Mrs Morgan would challenge those laws.

Mrs. Morgan settled in on the bus for the long ride home to Baltimore.
The bus picked up more passengers and there were not enough seats.
Irene Morgan was told she had to give her seat to the white people.

According to "Jim Crow" laws Black passengers were required to give up their seat
if any white passengers were without

Irene Morgan refused to give up her seat.
The the Sheriff was called.
Mrs Morgan put up a defense.
She was taken off the bus and put in jail.

Mrs. Morgan willingly paid the fine for kicking the sheriff.
But, she refused to pay the fine for not yielding her seat.

Irene Morgan asked the NAACP to help.
The case was called Morgan vs Virginia.

The Supreme Court of the United States decided that the Virginia law was unconstitutional.
One of the NAACP Lawyers for this case, Thurgood Marshall later served on the Supreme Court.

Irene Morgan sparked hope for civil rights!

Freedom Riders began their efforts.

In 2001, Irene Morgan Kilkaldy was presented with the Presidential Citizen's Award by President Bill Clinton.
The award was given for her efforts on behalf of Civil Rights.

Pictures of Irene Morgan Kilkaldy

Irene Morgan, President Clinton
Irene Morgan .. Irene Morgan elderly

Links for Irene Morgan Kilkaldy

Library of Virginia Trailblazers: Irene Morgan

Before Rosa Parks

Morgan v Commonwealth of Virginia

You Don't Have to Ride Jim Crow

Freedom Rides

Equal Access to Public Accommodations

Forgotten Civil Rights History

NY Times 2007Obituary of Mrs. Irene Morgan Kirkaldy.

Recent News


News January 12, 2012

By Eric Gillard, egillard@dailypress.com | 757-247-4879
12:56 p.m. EST, January 12, 2012

MIDDLESEX - Before there was civil rights icon Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Ala., there was Irene Morgan in Middlesex. Morgan was an important predecessor to Parks in the successful fight to overturn segregation laws in the United States. The state will soon honor Morgan's fight for equality with a historical highway marker, to be installed in Middlesex. Morgan's fight will be detailed on one of 13 historical markers recently approved by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. More than half of the new markers are devoted to African Americans.

Historic Highway Marker will be placed (where Miss Morgan was arrested) on Saturday, October 13, 2012.

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Page created September 5, 2004. Anne Pemberton. Updated Thu, Oct 11, 2012. AP.