This Pivotal Civil Rights Figure Challenged Discrimination From Within

rosa parks standing at a podium with two gentleman
Adé Hennis
February 29, 2024

E.D. Nixon’s respect for the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) outweighed his own interests or those of “any of its members.” But he finally had to take a stance against what was happening inside the association.

Nixon helped establish the MIA in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. As its treasurer, he helped grow financial and political support for local civil rights activities. However, Nixon believed that he was being treated unfairly by other members.

In his resignation letter to the MIA in 1957, Nixon wrote, “I resent being treated as a newcomer to the MIA. It is my dream, hope and hard work since 1932 and I do not expect to be treated as a child.”

Unlike most of the other members of the MIA, Nixon had not attended college. He opposed the MIA giving the most influential positions only to college-educated people instead of to people like himself, who had decades of practical experience. He had been a labor activist and civil rights organizer for 20 years before founding the MIA, and remained one for many years after he left it.

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