NPR logo Civil Rights Leader Johnnie Carr Dies at 97


Civil Rights Leader Johnnie Carr Dies at 97

Johnnie Rebecca Carr, one of the lesser-known leaders of the civil rights movement, died Friday in Montgomery, Ala.

For decades, Carr led the Montgomery Improvement Association, an organization formed in 1955 when Carr's childhood friend Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. The moment sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, and drew national attention to the fight against segregation and a local minister named Martin Luther King Jr.

King was the first president of the Montgomery Improvement Association. Carr first helped organize carpools during the boycott. She became the group's president in the '60s and continued to fight for equal rights for African Americans, including enrolling her son in the all-white Montgomery public schools in a legal test case.

Carr died in a Montgomery hospital after suffering a stroke earlier this month. She was 97 years old.