Juliette Hampton Morgan: Discussing the Story

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Objectives: 

  • Students will understand the implications of the story of Juliette Hampton Morgan.
  • Students will understand how some people have societal advantages over others.
  • Students will tie historic themes from Morgan's story to their own lives.

Materials Needed: 

  •  Copies of Juliette Hampton Morgan's story

This lesson is part of the Juliette Hampton Morgan series.

Have students read Juliette Hampton Morgan's story, aloud or to themselves. Use the following questions to aid comprehension and prepare for deeper dialogue.

1. What are some advantages that Juliette Morgan had while growing up in Montgomery, Alabama?
Morgan was a seventh-generation Southerner and a third-generation Alabamian. She was born into a family with high status, had famous friends (Fitzgerald and was an author and Bankhead a Hollywood celebrity) and went to the best schools. She held a master's degree and had a job.

2. What one thing separated Morgan from her privileged friends? Why was it important to her story?
She had anxiety attacks and couldn't drive. It's important to her story because she rode the city buses and saw how the white bus drivers treated blacks.

3. What were ways white bus drivers dehumanized black passengers?
After paying their fare, blacks had to walk out the front door of the bus and re-enter through the back door. Blacks had to give up their seats to any white people who entered. Blacks had to sit in the back of the bus. Some white bus drivers called them names.

4. What did Morgan do every time she saw a black passenger mistreated? How did people respond?
Morgan would pull the emergency cord to stop the bus every time she saw mistreatment. People were shocked because they had never seen a white person stand up against racism.

5. After word spread among the bus drivers, what response did they have toward Morgan's actions? Why?
They began to deliberately bait her by mistreating black passengers so she'd become angry, get off the bus and have to walk to work.

6. Eleven days after Rosa Parks was arrested and the Montgomery Bus Boycott began, to whom did Morgan compare the blacks of Montgomery and their struggle for freedom?
She compared the black struggle for equality in the South to Gandhi's nonviolent struggle against colonialism in India.

7. What happened to Morgan after she allowed Buford Boone, editor of The Tuscaloosa News, to print her letter in his newspaper?
She was bombarded by obscene phone calls and hate mail. White people boycotted the library where she worked, and some called for Morgan to be fired. Teenage boys taunted her, and a cross was burned in her yard. Her friends, and even her own mother, turned against her.

8. What did Morgan lose in her stance against racism in Montgomery?
She lost her friends, her job and some parts of her privileged way of life.

9. What did Martin Luther King Jr. say about Juliette Hampton Morgan?
In his book Stride Toward Freedom, King acknowledged Morgan made the connection between Gandhi's struggle and the struggle for equality in Montgomery. He also called her "a white woman who understood and sympathized with" activism associated with the Civil Rights Movement.

10. Summarize the ways Morgan stood up against racism.
Morgan challenged racism when she saw it on the bus. She wrote letters to the newspaper challenging racism in society. She reached out to Boone, another white anti-racist. She joined an interracial prayer group.

Discussion Questions:

1. What were some advantages Juliette Morgan had growing up in Montgomery, Alabama?

2. What separated Morgan from her privileged friends? Why was it important to her story?

3. What were ways white bus drivers dehumanized black passengers?

4. What did Morgan do every time she saw a black passenger mistreated? How did people respond?

5. After word spread among the bus drivers, what response did they have toward Morgan's actions? Why?

6. Eleven days after Rosa Parks was arrested and the Montgomery Bus Boycott began, to whom did Morgan compare the blacks of Montgomery and their struggle for freedom?

7. What happened to Morgan after she allowed Buford Boone, the editor of The Tuscaloosa News, to print her letter in his newspaper?

8. What did Morgan lose in her stance against racism in Montgomery?

9. What did Martin Luther King Jr. say about Juliette Hampton Morgan?

10. Summarize the ways Morgan stood up against racism.