Lucille Times, a Montgomery civil rights activist who got into a fist fight with the same bus driver Rosa Parks stood up to, passed away late on Monday evening. Her nephew, Daniel Nichols, confirmed her death with Montgomery's WSFA12 News.
In June 1955, six months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, Times got into a physical altercation with the same bus driver of the same racially segregated bus line Parks rode. According to Times, the driver tried to run her car off the road, and she got out and confronted him.
Times was never arrested for the fight, according to WSFA12, but she personally began to boycott the segregated buses after the incident. When the Montgomery Bus Boycotts — which saw African Americans refusing to ride city buses in Montgomery in protest of segregated seating — began in December of 1955, she reportedly continued giving rides to Black passengers she saw waiting at bus stops, as she had been doing in the months since the altercation with the bus driver.
Times and her husband Charlie had a long history in the Montgomery civil rights scene. Aside from being members of the NAACP, they both took part in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Marches. It’s reported that after one of the marches, the couple provided shelter to 18 people from around the country in their home. The pair also owned the Times Café, a cafe in Montgomery where local Montgomery legend has it that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his colleagues would often gather as they planned the Montgomery Bus Boycotts.
“I called the bus office three times to report James Blake [the bus driver], but the owner of the bus company would never return my call. I started the bus boycott the next day,” she said at an event held at the Rosa Parks Museum in 2017.
And while Rosa Parks later became a household name and a legendary figure in the civil rights movement, Times and her contributions to the cause remained relatively unknown to the wider public. That was until February 2017, when she agreed to a brief interview with her longtime friend, former Alabama Attorney General Troy King.
Times was already 96 years old by then, and had suffered a stroke that paralysed her vocal chords, but she was happy to talk about the importance of treating people fairly and moving through the world with kindness. The video went viral and led to a meet and greet at the Rosa Parks Museum, where attendees got to spend time with her and hear more about her incredible story.
Back in April, Times’ community got together to mark her 100th birthday with a public celebration at the Nixon Times Community Garden in Montgomery. Although Times herself was unable to attend due to COVID-19 precautions, much of her family was there as the community celebrated her and other local heroes of the civil rights movement.
The home where Times and her husband lived was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 2007.