No VA Jim Crow? - 1946
On June 3, 1946 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Virginia law requiring separate seating on buses for African Americans and whites.

The Court ruled that Virginia’s 1930 Jim Crow law for buses, which had replaced an earlier 1902 Jim Crow law, could not be applied to interstate travel.

The law read in part that all passenger motor vehicles operating in the state shall,

"Separate white and colored passengers in their motor buses and set apart and designate in each bus or vehicle a portion thereof, or certain seats therein, to be occupied by colored passengers."

"Each driver, or person in charge of any vehicle, while actively engaged in the operation of a vehicle, shall be a special policeman and have all the powers of conservator of the peace in the enforcement of the provision of this act."

The case arose when Irene Morgan boarded a bus on July 15, 1944 in Hayes Store in Gloucester County, Va. to her home in Baltimore, Maryland. She refused to move to rear of a bus when ordered by a driver in Saluda, Virginia. She was arrested for violating Virginia’s Jim Crow law and fined $10.

Upon hearing the verdict, Morgan said, “I’m glad mine was a test case to bring the issue into the open. It’s a victory for me and all colored people. The question remains whether the Greyhound Bus Company will instruct its drivers to observe the Court’s ruling.”

Spottswood Robinson from Richmond, Va. represented her with the support of the NAACP in the early stages of the case. William Hastie argued the case before the Supreme Court.

Justice Stanley Reed explained the Court’s opinion by noting that “an interstate passenger must, if necessary [under Virginia law] repeatedly shift seats while moving in Virginia to meet the seating requirements of the changing passenger group.”

The Arnold and WMA lines running between Northern Virginia to the District of Columbia abolished Jim Crow, but most southern states and bus companies refused to comply with the Court’s ruling. In 1947, the Congress of Racial Equality and the Fellowship for Reconciliation conducted an early “Journey for Reconciliation” to test the new Court ruling. They were met with violence and arrests in North Carolina.

Even after further Court decisions outlawing the practice, southern states enforced their Jim Crow laws. The racist practice wasn’t broken up until the Freedom Riders of 1961 and civil rights movement and black power movements that followed in the 1960s.
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