Irene Morgan (April 9, 1917 – August 10, 2007), later known as Irene Morgan Kirkaldy, was an important predecessor to Rosa Parks in the successful fight to overturn segregation laws in the United States. Like the more famous Parks, but eleven years earlier, in 1944, the 27-year-old Baltimore-born African-American was arrested and jailed in Virginia for refusing to give up her seat on an interstate Greyhound bus to a white person. In a 1946 landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-1 that Virginia's state law enforcing segregation on interstate buses was illegal.
A fateful bus ride
In July 1944, Morgan was a 27-year-old mother of two, who was in Gloucester County, Virginia visiting her mother. One Sunday morning she boarded a Greyhound Lines intercity bus bound for Baltimore, Maryland, where she was going home from visiting her mother in Gloucester county, Virginia. She sat down four rows from the back of the bus, in the section for "colored" people. When a white couple boarded and needed seats, the driver told Morgan and her seatmate to move farther back. Irene Morgan refused.
Read Irene Moran's obituary in the New York Times.