She Sacrificed The Ultimate And This Happened

Jim Crow signs in Durham, North Carolina
Leslie Taylor-Grover
May 22, 2020

Vera Pigee choked back tears. Anything could be happening to her daughter in that jail. She sent up a silent prayer to protect her child’s life. But would it be answered?

She grit her teeth. Either she was willing to do what she asked others to, or she wasn’t. How could she call for resistance when she wouldn’t take risks herself? But was using her own daughter the right strategy?

The wait was over. She watched as sheriffs released her daughter. 

The first thing Vera noticed was Mary Jane’s hair. As a beautician, she always noticed hair. Hair told stories, and Mary Jane’s looked just as it had before her arrest. Had Vera’s plan worked?

Mary Jane ran to her mother, smiling. She was unharmed! The first attempt to purchase tickets from the “whites only” counter at their local Clarksdale, Mississippi bus station had worked. 

Now, when Mary Jane went to court, segregation in bus station lobbies would be tested. But they weren’t done after just one action.

Vera’s leadership in planning Mary Jane’s actions inspired local youth and their parents.

Their small act became one of the largest youth movements in the 1950s, inspiring youth civil rights activities throughout the nation. There is a role for all of us in our liberation. We can start exactly where we are - as Vera and Mary Jane did.

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