Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.
Sixty-five years ago today, the first large-scale demonstration against segregation in the United States began in the capital city of Alabama.
Four days earlier, a woman who would become synonymous with the civil rights movement, boarded a bus after a long workday. She and three other people were soon ordered to vacate their seats because the Whites Only seats were already full.
Some historians — and individuals who wish to downplay this woman’s role in history — will tell you she was tired, or that there was no greater spirit of resistance embodied by this act of refusal. But no, this was one act of protest in a life filled with important, poignant choices. In fact, not only was she a member of the local chapter of the NAACP, she was its secretary.
The protest began in earnest on December 5th, the day this woman would be tried in municipal court. Flyers began circulating. On December 5th, approximately 40,000 black bus riders — the majority of the city’s bus riders (about 75%!) — abandoned the bus system. Instead, carpools were organized by black leaders, and the city’s African American taxi drivers reduced their fares to 10 cents for African-American riders — the same price as the bus.
This woman is an icon, but she’s not the only woman who deserves praise for stepping up against unfair treatment in this way. Two other women — one nine months earlier, one fifteen years earlier — both refused to be treated like second-class citizens on segregated buses.
On this anniversary, I wanted to shine a spotlight on all three of these brave, determined women, all of whom deserve our respect, our esteem, and our heartfelt gratitude.
I hope this puzzle serves to both engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about these events and those names that are often overshadowed by a single, still very deserving figure.
[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]
If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.
If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.
I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.
Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Black lives matter.