Mrs. Times drove away, furious. “My blood was almost boiling,” she said. “I didn’t even take my clothes into the dry cleaners.”
At home her husband, Charlie, had already heard about the incident. Together they called E.D. Nixon, the head of the local N.A.A.C.P. chapter, and asked what they could do. He came over that night.
As a child, she had taken part in a boycott of a butcher shop in Detroit, where she was visiting relatives, and she suggested to Mr. Nixon that the city’s Black community could do the same. He agreed, but said the time wasn’t right — they would need money, cars and other supplies to make it happen. He asked her to have patience.
She called the city bus company to complain, but no one responded. She sent letters to The Montgomery Advertiser and The Atlanta Journal, but they refused to print them. She decided not to wait.
Over the next six months, she operated her own boycott, driving to bus stops and offering free rides to Black passengers waiting to board. Charlie, with whom she ran a cafe across from their house, collected money for gas, and they used the cafe as a planning hub — people could call Charlie to arrange a ride, and he would assemble a schedule for his wife.
“Lucille was loaded for bear, and she wouldn’t back down from nothing,” Mr. Nichols said. “She was full steam ahead.”
On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a seamstress and activist in the Montgomery N.A.A.C.P., boarded Mr. Blake’s bus and sat in the front section, which was reserved for white riders. When he ordered her to move to the back, she refused, and was arrested. Four days later, the Montgomery Improvement Association, formed in coordination with the N.A.A.C.P. and led by a 26-year-old preacher, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., announced a citywide boycott.