Dead, Johnnie Rebecca Daniels Carr on February 22, 2008 at the age of 97, she was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from 1955 until her death.
Born on January 26, 1911 Carr was a childhood friend of Rosa Parks and is considered, along with Parks, Dr. King, E.D. Nixon and others to be an important face in the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery, Alabama.
According to Morris Dees, one of three founders of Montgomery’s Southern Poverty Law Center, “Johnnie Carr is one of the three major icons of the Civil Rights Movement: Dr. King, Rosa Parks and Johnnie Carr.
In 1965, she won a lawsuit against the Montgomery County Board of Education.
During the 1930s, after finishing school and while holding various jobs to support herself and her children, Johnnie first became politically active.
In 1931, she raised money to pay for the legal counsel of nine African-American defendants falsely accused of rape what would become known as the Scottsboro Trials.
Around that time, she also established her membership in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and went on to become the youth director and secretary of the Montgomery NAACP chapter in the 1940s.
On December 1, 1955, Carr’s friend Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery public bus. When Parks was arrested, the Montgomery Improvement Association, then led by Martin Luther King Jr., launched a citywide boycott of public buses.
Carr played a fundamental role in the behind-the-scenes organization of the ensuing 381-day-long boycott. She gave boycotters rides, fed protestors and gave speeches at rallies all over the country.
In 1956 the boycott ended with the Supreme Court’s decision to desegregate the Montgomery public transportation system. In 1969, Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. announced his ruling in the Carr vs. Montgomery Board of Education case: The school board had been illegally splitting itself into two separate parts for dealing with black and white students. As a result, the Carrs’ son became one of the first 13 black students to attend the formerly all-white Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery.
Carr became president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (an organization founded during the bus boycott) in 1967, remaining in the position until her death.
She also was an active member of the United Way and a member of One Montgomery, an organization formed in 1984 to improve race relations in the city. In the 1970s and 1980s, Carr often lectured with activist and close friend Virginia Durr. She also wrote a memoir for young readers titled Johnnie.
Carr suffered a stroke and died on February 22, 2008. Her funeral at Alabama State University was standing-room only, attended by numerous state and local dignitaries.