In 1952, Sarah Keyes served as a private in the Women's Army Corps. When she entered a bus to visit her parents in North Carolina, she was told to sit in the back of bus. She refused and was arrested.
Sarah Keyes Speaks About Segregated Buses
Sarah Keyes: My name is Sarah Keyes. I am a hairstylist in a beauty shop, at 1926 Amsterdam Avenue in New York City. Three years ago, in 1952, I was a private first class in the Women’s Army Corps. I was stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey. On August 3rd of that year, I was given a furlough to go home to visit my parents in Washington, North Carolina. About noon of that day, I got a bus in Trenton, New Jersey. I took a seat about four rows back of the driver, and sat there, most of the time alone. It was my first long trip on the bus. About midnight, the bus stopped at Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, to change drivers.
The new driver told me to move to the back. The bus was crowded and I was tired, and I told him I preferred to stay where I was. He had me arrested, and I was put in jail in Roanoke Rapids. I was all alone in a dirty, dingy cell, I was told, I was not told what I was charged with. About 3:00 the next afternoon, the chief of police told me I was being charged with disorderly conduct. He told me, if I could pay $25, he would let me get out of jail. I paid the $25 and took the next bus home. I sat in the back of the bus. On September 1st, 1952, my father and I filed a case with the interstate commerce commission, after it had been rejected by other courts. A few weeks ago, on the day after Thanksgiving, I learned we won. The ICC ruled that if a train or bus crosses state lines, we do not have to go to the rear.
Chet Huntley: In one quarter of the United States today it is unusual, if not indeed unwise, to call a Negro a mister. If you know him well, you use his first name. If you don’t, his last name will do. For his wife, or any other of his women folk, regardless of her age or yours, the usual form of address is the first name. Next month, there will be un-segregated busses in the south, but it’s unlikely that a symbol of racial segregation such as forms of address, will be changed quite that fast.
This is Chet Huntley, good night.
Editor's Note: While black Americans’ political rights were codified by three constitutional amendments and several federal laws in the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, state governments were making legislation that legalized inequality between the races.