Two dimes on a city bus
Reverend C. K. Steele (left) and Reverend Dan Speed protested segregated seating on Tallahassee city buses by sitting in the middle instead of at the back. This ended a boycott of nearly seven months, brought on by the arrest of two FAMU students for sitting beside a white woman.
bought cultural upheaval
Fifty years ago, two college students refused to sit in the back of a Tallahassee bus.
Three female Florida A&M University students boarded a crowded bus for downtown. All three paid their dime fares. One walked to the back of the bus, where Southern tradition held that blacks sat.
But Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson sat beside a white woman, who didn't protest. But driver Max Coggins ordered the black women to the rear. They refused -- but offered to disembark if their fares were refunded.
Coggins refused. Instead, he drove to a nearby service station and called police.
Jakes and Patterson were arrested and charged with placing themselves "in position to incite a riot." They were released to the custody of the FAMU dean of students. One night later, a cross was burned on their lawn.
For the failure of a bus driver to refund 20 cents, Tallahassee's civil-rights movement began.
The Tallahassee Democrat takes an in-depth look and even offers an apology for its own opposition to integration. Check it out here.