The picture above shows Irene Amos Morgan Kirkaldy receiving the Presidential Citizens Award from President Bill Clinton for her actions in 1944. Found a full description of the event that led to Morgan v. Virginia in the book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Raymond Arsenault.
The Greyhound from Norfolk was jammed that morning, especially in the back, where several black passengers had no choice but to stand in the aisle. As the bus pulled away from the storefront, Morgan was still searching for an empty seat. When non materialized, she accepted the invitation of a young black woman who graciously offered her a lap to sit on. Later she moved to a seat relinquished by a departing passenger. Although only three rows from the back, she found herself sitting directly in front of a white couple—an arrangement that violated Southern custom and a 1930 Virginia statue prohibiting racially mixed seating on public conveyances. Sine she was not actually sitting next to a white person, Morgan did not think the driver would ask her to move. And perhaps he would not have done so if two additional white passengers had not boarded the bus a few seconds after she sat down. Suddenly the driver turned toward Morgan and her seatmate, a young black woman holding an infant, and barked: “You’ll have to get up and give your seats to these people.” The young woman with the baby complied immediately, scurrying into the aisle near the back of the bus. But Irene Morgan, perhaps forgetting where she was, suggested a compromise: She would be happy to exchange seas with a white passenger sitting behind her, she calmly explained, but she was unwilling to stand for any length of time…The sheriff and his deputy showed no mercy as they dragged her out of the bus. Both men claimed that they resorted to force after Morgan tore up the arrest warrant and threw it out the window. According to the deputy’s sworn testimony, the unruly young woman also kicked him three times in the leg…“He touched me",” Morgan recalled in a recent interview, “that is why I kicked him in a very bad place.”
The remainder of this post will cover Robert Amos, Irene’s father, World War I and II drafts.
Robert Comos Amos (I love how his middle and last name rhyme) was born April 3, 1884. His age at the time of this draft was 34 years old. His race was Negro and he was listed as a natural born citizen. He worked as a laborer, however, I am unable to read the handwriting of the individual who wrote this. His next of kin is Ethel D. Amos, his wife. This was all I could read from this draft.
This registration card was so beautiful. My eyes began to hurt after staring for long periods of time at an illegible document. Robert Amos was 58 years old at the time of this draft and his birth date stayed the same April 3, 1884. He resided on 1722 New Orleans Street in Baltimore. His place of birth is listed also as being Baltimore. In the space to place a person who will always know your address, he listed his daughter Ethel Shakespeare of 3106 Brentwood Avenue. He worked for Lloyd E. Mitchell on Cecil Avenue in Sparrow Point, Maryland.
Robert weighted 210 pounds and was 5ft 8.5 inches. He wore glasses. They marked his complexion as light, hair as brown, eyes were marked brown as well, and his race white. I had to look at it a few times. Then I decided to go back to previous censuses. Umm yeah, they all said he was black. Then I started to think I had the wrong person, but Ethel Shakespeare was listed on the registration card. I found Ethel in the 1940 Census and she did indeed lived on Brentwood Street.
I think it is just a mistake. There are just too many “coincidences” for this to be another person. You cannot place your full trust in these documents even if they are from the federal government.
Future post will include more about the Amos prior to 1910.
Until the next post.