Civil Rights Pioneer
Aurelia Eliscera Shines Browder was born January 29, 1919, in Montgomery, Alabama. She graduated with honors in 1956 from Alabama State Teachers College (now Alabama State University).
In April 1955, Browder's refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white passenger led to her arrest. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which began in December 1955, she was a volunteer driver for those who declined to ride the buses. On February 1, 1956, serving as lead plaintiff, Browder in conjunction with Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith, and Susie McDonald, also arrested for the same offense, filed suit in U. S. Federal District Court challenging the constitutionality of Montgomery's bus segregation statutes.
A three-judge panel ruled in a 2-1 decision on June 5, 1956, that the bus segregation statues were unconstitutional and in violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. In an appeal on November 13, 1956, the U. S. Supreme Court unanimously affirmed(Continued on other side)Side 2(Continued from other side)
the Federal Court's ruling in the case of Browder vs. Gayle. As a direct result of the case, Montgomery city buses were desegregated on December 22, 1956.
Continuing her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Browder worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Locally she worked with the Women's Political Council, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), and tutored blacks for voter registration exams.
Browder's primary residence during the bus desegregation case and until her death in 1971 was this one-story brick house at 1012 Highland Avenue in Centennial Hill, once Montgomery's most prestigious black community. Portions of Centennial Hill are listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.