Days after integrated riding began in this city, White snipers shot a pregnant Black woman on a bus

Mildred Europa Taylor September 17, 2021
An empty bus moves through downtown Montgomery, Ala., in April 1956 during the Montgomery Bus Boycott — NPR

It is widely known that in December 1955, Rosa Parks effectively sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott after refusing to give up her bus seat to a White passenger. Civil rights activists including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Black ministers and community leaders organized a citywide bus boycott in protest.

But what is less known is the story of Rosa Jordan, a pregnant Black woman who was shot on a Montgomery bus just days after the Bus Boycott had ended and the busing system was finally integrated.

African Americans had from December 1, 1955, collectively decided to boycott boarding buses in Montgomery to protest against racial segregation in its public transport system. Regarded as the first largest civil rights demonstration against segregation in the United States, the Montgomery Bus Boycott furthered the cause of the organization for racial and economic equality in America.

Cars, trucks, and wagons were always at hand to move Black workers to and from work, and the insurances, gas, and repairs were always taken care of from funds raised. The boycott ended on December 20, 1956, after the United States Supreme Court ruled segregated seating in Montgomery’s public transport system unconstitutional and ordered for it to be integrated.

Following the ruling, Black people returned to integrated buses. But some White residents who were not satisfied with the ruling started terrifying Black riders. Snipers began targeting buses in the city.

On the evening of December 28, 1956, 22-year-old Jordan, who was eight months pregnant, was riding on a desegregated bus through a Black neighborhood when White snipers shot into the bus. Jordan was shot in both legs and sent to Oak Street General Hospital. There, doctors were “hesitant to remove a bullet lodged in her leg for fear that it could spark premature labor,” according to a report by EJI.

Jordan was told she would have to stay in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy, the report added. Jordan’s shooting followed two earlier sniper attacks on buses in the city. Those shootings happened a week before Jordan’s incident. However, the buses that were targeted carried no passengers and no injuries were recorded.

After Jordan’s terrible incident on the evening of December 28, the Police Commissioner ordered all buses to suspend services for the night. Three city commissioners met with a bus company official the following day and decided to suspend all night bus service after 5:00 p.m. That curfew policy continued until January 22, 1957.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 17, 2021


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