Edgar Daniel Nixon

#blackhistoryProfilesFebruary 12, 2022

Edgar Nixon founded the Sleeping Car Porters union and organized the Alabama Voters League before joining with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. to initiate the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 to protest segregation in the South.

“Your spark can become a flame and change everything,” said Edgar Daniel Nixon, who devoted his life to ending segregation and discrimination against Blacks.

Born in Alabama to a Baptist preacher and a maid, Nixon worked as a Pullman porter from 1923 to 1964 and founded the Montgomery Division of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, an African American union. 

In the 1940s he organized the Alabama Voters League, leading a march of more than 700 residents to the Montgomery County Municipal Court House calling for an end to practices that blocked voting rights to Blacks. He also served as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Montgomery branch and in 1954 became the first Black man to run for public office in Montgomery since Reconstruction.

Nixon helped secure bail for Rosa Parks when she was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man and helped organize the ensuing year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott that ended when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Alabama to end bus segregation. 

Martin Luther King Jr. described Nixon as “one of the chief voices of the Negro community in the area of civil rights.”

Nixon, whose Montgomery home was bombed and received numerous threats against his life, continued working for civil rights the rest of his life, focusing on improving conditions at housing projects and programs for Black children. 

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