Before Rosa Parks: 6 Facts About Civil Rights Activist Mary Louise Smith and the Other Women Who Refuse To Be Moved

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Browder v. Gayle 

Smith, Colvin and Browder were plaintiffs in the case along with Susie McDonald, another woman who also refused to give up her seat in 1955. On Feb. 1, 1956, civil rights attorney Fred Gray started the process that would take most of the year to show any real results. A few months later, on June 13, 1956, the District Court ruled that “the enforced segregation of black and white passengers on motor buses operating in the City of Montgomery violates the Constitution and laws of the United States.” The court decided that the precedent of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) could be applied to the Browder case. The U.S. Supreme Court went on to affirm the decision in December.

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Legacy

After the court decision, the Montgomery bus boycott was officially over. However, the Browder case changed the lives of the women involved. Smith went on to be a prominent activist leading the charge for Black voters and being involved with the 1963 March on Washington. Browder also had a long career in the NAACP, MIA and SCLC. However, Colvin did not fair so well. She had to move to New York because the case brought too much attention to her. Within the Black community, Colvin was called a troublemaker. She could not find work or support her son. While in New York, she forged a life and had a long career as a nurse’s aide.

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