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Irene Morgan

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Irene Morgan

Irene Morgan
Born (1917-04-09)April 9, 1917
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Died August 10, 2007(2007-08-10) (aged 90)
Gloucester County, Virginia, U.S.
Religion Seventh-day Adventist

Irene Morgan (April 9, 1917 – August 10, 2007), later known as Irene Morgan Kirkaldy, was an African-American woman who was arrested in Middlesex County, Virginia, in 1944 for refusing to give up her seat on an interstate bus according to a state law on segregation.

She consulted with attorneys to appeal her conviction. With the help of U.S. 373 (1946), was taken to the United States Supreme Court. In 1946 in a landmark decision, the Court ruled that the Virginia law was unconstitutional, as the Commerce clause protected interstate traffic.


  • Early life, education and family 1
  • Arrest, jail and conviction 2
  • U.S. Supreme Court case 3
  • Journey of Reconciliation 4
  • Legacy and honors 5
  • Representation in other media 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life, education and family

Irene Morgan was born in 1917 in Baltimore, Maryland. She attended local schools and was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist.

Morgan was married twice. She had two children, a son and a daughter, with first husband Sherwood Morgan Sr., who died in 1948. She then married Stanley Kirkaldy, with whom she ran a child-care center in U.S. 373 (1946), was argued by William H. Hastie, the former governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands and later a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Thurgood Marshall was co-counsel and later became a Supreme Court justice.[4]

The action resulted in a landmark ruling in 1946, in which the [6]

"If something happens to you which is wrong, the best thing to do is have it corrected in the best way you can," said Morgan. "The best thing for me to do was to go to the Supreme Court."

In 1960, in

  • The Freedom Rider a Nation Nearly Forgot, Washington Post
  • Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, NAACP Legal Defense Fund
  • (1946)"Morgan v. VirginiaJim Crow Stories: Richard Wormser, , 2002, text with The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, PBS
  • Robin Washington, producer: You Don't Have to Ride Jim Crow!, 1995 documentary about Morgan and the Journey of Reconciliation, shown on New Hampshire Public TV
  • "Another civil rights pioneer dies", Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11 August 2007

External links

  1. ^ Goldstein, Richard (13 August 2007). "Irene Morgan Kirkaldy, 90, Rights Pioneer, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Goldstein, Richard. "Irene Morgan Kirkaldy, 90, Rights Pioneer, Dies." The New York Times 13 Aug. 2007: n. pag. Print.
  3. ^ a b Lamb, Yvonne S. "Irene M. Kirkaldy; Case Spurred Freedom Rides." The Washington Post 13 Aug. 2007: n. pag. Print.
  4. ^ a b "Milestones," August 27, 2007 edition of TIME Magazine at p. 23.
  5. ^ [2] Photo of "Washington Afro-American" headline with 6-1 Supreme Court vote.
  6. ^ a b c d "Jim Crow Stories: Richard Wormser, "'Morgan v. Virginia' (1946)" , The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, 2002, PBS, accessed 5 February 2013
  7. ^ "Equal Access to Public Accommodations" - The Civil Rights Movement in Virginia, Virginia Historical Society
  8. ^ Presidential Citizens Medal Recipient Irene Morgan retrieved on 2007-12-01
  9. ^ "Maryland Women's Hall of Fame". MWHF. Retrieved July 27, 2012. 


See also

  • (1995)You Don't Have to Ride Jim Crow!Robin Washington, producer: , documentary, released on New Hampshire Public TV
  • Jim Crow Stories: Richard Wormser, "'Morgan v. Virginia' (1946)", The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, 2002, PBS

Representation in other media

  • 1995, Robin Washington was the producer for the documentary You Don't Have to Ride
  • In 2000 Morgan Kirkaldy was honored by Gloucester County, Virginia during its 350th anniversary celebration.
  • In 2001, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Citizens Medal.
  • In 2002, PBS featured a four-part series entitled, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow. Associated materials include an article on Morgan v. Virginia.[6]
  • 2010, Kirkaldy was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame[9]

Legacy and honors

[4] Irene Morgan was a member of the

In 2000, Mrs. Kirkaldy was honored by Gloucester County during its 350th anniversary celebration, and in 2001, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Citizens Medal.[3]

The 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, ahead of its time in the use of tactics of nonviolent direct action, inspired the highly publicized Freedom Rides of 1961, also organized by CORE.

The group traveled uneventfully through Virginia, but when they reached [6]

Morgan's case inspired the 1947 [6]

Journey of Reconciliation

[7] Her case,

U.S. Supreme Court case

Irene Morgan appealed her case. After exhausting appeals in state courts, she and her lawyers took her case on constitutional grounds to the federal courts, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1946, the justices agreed to hear the case.

[3] The bus driver stopped in

In 1944, the 27-year-old Irene Morgan was traveling to Baltimore, Maryland when she was arrested and jailed in Virginia for refusing to sit in a segregated section on an interstate Greyhound bus. Although interstate transportation was supposed to be desegregated, the state enforced segregated seating within its borders.

Arrest, jail and conviction


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