October 21, 1955, Mary Louise Smith (Ware) refused to give her seat to a white male passenger when ordered by the bus driver and her defiance led to her arrest, jail and court fine for refusing to obey segregation orders. The bus incident mirrored Claudette Colvin in March of 1955 and Rosa Parks in December of 1955. Mr. Frank Smith, her father, widower with 6 children, bailed her from jail, represented in court, and paid her fine without assistance from any of Montgomery’s political or civic leaders.
Her arrest became publicly known at a mass meeting when appeals for plaintiffs were made to serve on a lawsuit to challenge state of Alabama segregation laws in Montgomery Federal District Court. She was 1 of 4
persons out of a pool of 20,000 bus riders who agreed to become a named plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, Browder v Gayle*. Attorney Gray named the lawsuit Browder, however he insisted all plaintiffs were all of equal importance.
Mrs. Smith-Ware did not leave Montgomery after the boycott and trial ended like many other prominent members (Dr. King, Mrs. Parks, Mrs. Robinson, Ms. Colvin, etc). The Smith family continued to aid in the cause of social justice. Janie, the eldest and surrogate mother and advisor used her car to help transport boycotters, Mary participated in the March on Washington, Voting Rights rallies, and Selma to Montgomery March at St. Jude City, she and sister Annie filed discrimination complaints against the Montgomery Y.M.C.A. on behalf of their minor sons. They emulated their father who signed for Mary in Browder v Gayle. The complaint led to Smith vs Y.M.C.A (1969), that desegregated the Montgomery Y.M.C.A. and reversed a 1957 Montgomery city ordinance that forbid blacks and whites to socialize in public.
COSMO-D PRODUCTIONS produced the original documentary Rivers of Change- More Than A Bus Ride© that led to national publicity of Browder V Gayle, in which Mary was a star witness. We are asking your assistance to place a Historical Marker at the Smith Home Site to honor this valiant and courageous family for contributions that helped changed the face of Montgomery, the nation, yet as of today in 2017, there is no public sign, no named street; no public memorial exists to show the accomplishments, an appreciation and honor for the sacrifices and contributions made by the Smith Family.
Please send donations, questions to: Cosmo-D Productions, P.O. Box 798, Selma, Alabama, 362701. Email address:, 601.594.6792. Make payable to Smith Historical Marker. The project cost is $3,000.00 which includes Fabrication and Mounting