Sara Mae Flemming
“…this young woman, in the face of southern Jim Crow politics took a step that forever changed the face of civil rights in the South”1 – Sara Mae Flemming – Civil rights pioneer
We all know about Rosa Parks who, in 1955 challenged segregation laws by taking a seat in the “All White” section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Few, however, know that in 1954, Sara Mae Flemming challenged such segregation right here in South Carolina. Flemming, a 20 year old black maid took a front seat on a Columbia city bus operated by SCE&G. By doing so, Ms. Flemming challenged state laws that separated blacks and whites.
Ms. Flemming took SCE&G to federal court in Columbia, challenging their practice of segregation. When the court denied her challenge, the case was brought forward to the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, where the segregation laws were struck down. This decision was upheld when the US Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal. Ms. Flemming’s case was cited in the more famous case of Rosa Parks. Together, these women bravely challenged segregation in the South and were instrumental in initiating the civil rights movement that ultimately led to sweeping changes in how African Americans were treated in the United States.
1http://www.scafricanamerican.com/honorees/view/2008/5/ (Includes image)