Another Role for Buses in Civil Rights History

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Get people talking about civil rights-era buses and it’s all Rosa Parks all the time.

Museums are dedicated to her role in the boycott in the mid-1950s that forced Montgomery to stop banishing African-Americans to the back of city buses. Schools and stamps bear her name. There is a Rosa Parks cookie jar and a Rosa Parks app.

But no one talks much about Worcy Crawford, who died in July at age 90, leaving a graveyard of decaying buses behind his house on the outskirts of Birmingham.

His private coaches, all of them tended by Mr. Crawford almost until the day he died, do not have the panache of the city buses that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. refused to ride. But they have significance nonetheless.

With their cracked windows and rusting engines thick with brambles, they are remnants of something that was quite rare in the South: a bus company owned by an African-American.

Mr. Crawford’s work was simple. He kept a segregated population moving. Any Birmingham child who needed a ride to school, a football game or a Girl Scout outing during the Jim Crow era and beyond most likely rode one.

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