Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Edgar Daniel Nixon. As a community based social worker, Nixon caught my attention and my heart, since he dedicated his life to community organizing, activism, and social justice. Nixon was a key figure in organizing the now famous Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Nixon played a pivotal role in bailing another civil rights hero, Rosa Parks out of jail. The bus boycott lasted 380 days, presenting over a year-long struggle for African Americans. As testament to this struggle, Nixon’s home was firebombed and he was indicted for violating a state anti-boycott statute. Fortunately, the bus boycott helped to put an end to bus segregation, an embarrassing mark in US history.
Prior to helping organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Nixon was organizing people for voting rights as a part of his dedication to the civil rights movement. In fact, Nixon rallied and led a march of more than 700 people in Montgomery protesting unfair barriers that blocked blacks from voting. Nixon also served as president of his local NAACP chapter. Dr. King referred to Nixon as:
one of the chief voices of the Negro community in the area of civil rights … a symbol of the hopes and aspirations of the long oppressed people of the State of Alabama.
Nixon worked as a Pullman Car Porter ( a porter for sleeping cars on trains). In the 1940’s he worked to organize a USO Club for black serviceman. He contacted Eleanor Roosevelt to garner her support. Roosevelt took action and helped to establish a USO Club for African-American servicemen. By sheer coincidence, Nixon and Roosevelt got to meet on a train where he was working as a porter.
Thank you, ED Nixon! Your legacy of social justice lives on in the many of us you have inspired.