THE MONTGOMERY FOUR
Four women, four ordinary citizens who had the courage to challenge laws they viewed as unjust in order to give all people the right to be treated as first class citizens.
AURELIA SHINES BROWDER COLEMAN
(January 29, 1919 – February 4, 1971)
Mrs. Browder was a nurse, midwife, seamstress, business woman,teacher, a political activist, and widow at the time of the boycott. She graduated from high school in her thirties, attended and graduated from Alabama State University with honors. Mrs. Browder lived in Centennial Hills, the center of the black middle class community in 1955, Mrs. Browder had an incident on the bus, April 29, 1955, where she was forced to stand and give up her seat to a white rider. She agreed to serve as a plaintiff and as lead plaintiff because of her age and her role in the suit was no more of less than the other plaintiffs. Her children reported that she was a member of the NAACP, SCLC, MIA and denied a teaching job in Montgomery Public Schools System because of her civil rights acitivities and moved her children with relatives during the trial because of bomb threats.
SUSIE "MAMA SUE" MCDONALD
Mrs. McDonald was a business woman, political activist, educator, philanthropist, and member of one of Montgomery’s prominent family, and member of St. Jude Catholic Church. She attended Fisk University for one year and returned to Montgomery and taught school for a short period, built an entertainment center, “McDonald's Farm” that housed a restaurant, and one of the first public swimming pools in Montgomery. The center was also used to raise money for charitable events such as the March of Dimes and for feeding the hungry during the depression years. After the trial, her son would stand armed guard at night to protect her from retaliation from whites angry over the ruling in Browder v Gayle. She continued her civil rights activities by assisting in voting rights efforts and housing civil rights workers in her home.
MARY LOUISE SMITH WARE
(Mary Louise Smith-Ware) (b. 1937) is a civil rights protester. She is famous as one of the pre-Rosa Parks women who refused to give up their seats in the "whites only" section of Montgomery, Alabama city buses. At the age of 18, October 21, 1955, Mary returning home on the Montgomery, Alabama city line bus, was ordered to relinquish her seat to a white female passenger, which she refused to do. Her stand landed her in jail and she was charged with failure to obey segregation orders. Her father bailed her from jail and paid her fine, nine dollars. The incident was unknown except to family and neighbors. She was a plaintiff of Browder v Gayle.
(Born September 5, 1939)
Claudette is an African American woman from Alabama at the age of 15, Colvin was a student at Booker T. Washington High School. On March 2, 1955, she boarded a public bus and, shortly thereafter, refused to give up her seat to a white man. Colvin was coming home from school that day when she got on a Capital Heights bus downtown. Colvin was sitting about two seats from the emergency exit when four whites boarded and the driver ordered her, along with three other black passengers, to get up. She refused and was removed from the bus by two police officers, who took her to jail. Claudette was the first person to challenge illegal segregation seating practices on Montgomery City Line buses in court.