Disrupters & Interlopers: Juliette Hampton Morgan

Juliette Hampton Morgan was a librarian in Montgomery, Alabama. She was born in 1914, was a native Alabamian descended from a prominent family, and earned her college degree in English from the University of Alabama. However, unlike many women of her time and age, she was a vehement advocate for social justice.

In the years prior to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Morgan was writing letters to the local newspaper about civil rights abuses, and she even stood up for mistreated African Americans when she witnessed injustices on Montgomery’s city buses. However, in the summer of 1957, after the boycott had succeeded, her vocal advocacy of civil rights causes led opponents to burn a cross in her yard. Juliette Hampton Morgan then quit her job and committed suicide.

Though her life ended tragically, Morgan’s legacy would win out over time. In 2006, Mary Stanton’s book Journey Toward Justice: Juliette Hampton Morgan and the Montgomery Bus Boycott was published. Today, the downtown branch of Montgomery’s public library system is named for Morgan, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program offers a classroom lesson about her.

Though her efforts were not appreciated in her day, Juliette Hampton Morgan’s insights and attitudes prevailed in the long run.

The Disrupters & Interlopers series highlights lesser-known individuals from Southern history whose actions, though unpopular or difficult, contributed to changing the old status quo.

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