Just four days after Rosa Parks was arrested for failing to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white male passenger, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began. However, for one Montgomery resident, the bus boycott had begun nearly six months earlier.
“I started the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” the 94-year-old Times said, remembering the story of her June 15, 1955, run-in with James F. Blake – the same Montgomery bus driver that demanded that Parks give up her seat on his bus.
Times recounted her story last week at the Rosa Parks Museum during “A Conversation with Lucille Times. Dr. Felicia Bell, the museum’s director, and former Alabama Attorney General and TROY alumnus Troy King joined Times on the auditorium stage, asking her questions and fielding questions from the audience.
Times had climbed behind the wheel of her new Buick LeSabre that day, heading from her South Holt Street home to the dry cleaners on the Mobile Highway. Along the way, her path crossed with Blake’s and the bus driver attempted three times to run her car off.
“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 that soon grew physical. Two Montgomery policemen arrived on the scene to break up the altercation.
“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.”
Times began to drive around Montgomery and provide transportation for African Americans who were waiting at bus stops. When the Montgomery Bus Boycott officially began, others joined Times in her efforts to provide transportation for members of the African American community to ensure the success of the effort.
Troy King met Times during his time in the Attorney General’s Office and the two became friends. It was then that King realized the Times’ story was represented a “remarkable, but undiscovered piece of history.”
While a historical marker stands outside of her South Holt Street home, lauding the impact made by Times and her late husband Charlie during the Civil Rights Movement, King was sure that her story was not widely known.
King decided to share a video about Times on his Facebook page and the piece immediately began to attract attention.
“The video has had 1.2 million views and been shared 30,000 times,” King said. “I wanted to be sure that she received the attention she deserved and that we brought flesh and blood to those things that happened.”
Dr. Bell said stories like that of Mrs. Times were not uncommon in Montgomery and throughout the South in the 1950s and 1960s.
“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,” Dr. Bell 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.”
While age has slowed Times, it has done nothing to dull her spirit or deter her from sharing the message she hopes will travel forward for generations.
“You’ve got to fight…you’ve got to fight,” she said, shaking a clinched fist in the air. “You don’t get nothing for free. I’ve been a fighter all of my days.”