Montgomery bus boycott organizer, Thelma McWilliams Glass, has died. Glass was a professor and civil rights leader who was among the group of women that organized the Montgomery bus boycott. She died on Wednesday at the age of 96.
Glass was a professor of geography at Alabama State University. The University released a statement announcing her death but did not identify the cause of her death.
President William H. Harris of Alabama State University said:
”The ASU family lost one of its crown jewels today. Mrs. Glass was the consummate educator, whose life was a shining example of service, courage and commitment. She will be truly missed.”
When Rosa Parks, an African American woman, was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a White person, the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery was initiated. Parks and Glass were among the group of women who decided to stand together and demand fair treatment.
Black people boycotted the city of Montgomery’s bus service which crippled it but it brought about the end of segregation of the public transport service the following year.
The group that the women formed was called the Women’s Political Council and Glass was the secretary. The group made sure that everyone became aware of the plan to boycott the public transportation system.
Said Glass, in an interview with ASU Today Magazine,
“The men talked about it, you know, but we were ready to take action.”
Instead of riding buses, boycotters arranged different carpools to get to work and other places and some even walked.
Glass was not only a civil rights pioneer, she was also an educator and was known for emphasizing the importance of social justice to her students. Glass encouraged her students to become active in efforts to bring racial inequality to an end.
Alabama State University, her alma mater, honored her by naming an auditorium after her in Trenholm Hall at the university. She was honored with the Black and Gold Standard Award during the 2011 Founders’ Day Convocation.
Glass belonged to the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and was a recipient of the Harper Councill Trenholm Memorial Award given by the National Alumni Association.
Funeral arrangements are still in process.