Edgar Daniel Nixon played a crucial role in organizing the landmark Montgomery bus boycott
The boycott highlighted the issues of segregation in the South, was upheld for more than a year by black residents, and nearly brought the city-owned bus system to bankruptcy.
It ended in December 1956, after the United States Supreme Court ruled in the related case, Browder v. Gayle (1956), that the local and state laws were unconstitutional and ordered the state to end bus segregation.
A longtime organizer and activist, Nixon was president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP), the Montgomery Welfare League, and the Montgomery Voters League.
At the time, Nixon had already led the Montgomery branch of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union, known as the Pullman Porters Union, which he had helped organize.
But he and Dr. King had a falling out.
He expressed resentment that King and Raphael Abernathy had received most of the credit for the boycott, as opposed to the local activists who had already spent years organizing against racism.
Nixon resigned his post as MIA treasurer in 1957, writing a bitter letter to King complaining that he had been treated as a child and a “newcomer.” Nixon continued to feud with Montgomery’s Black middle-class community for the next decade.
By the late 1960s, through a series of political defeats, his leadership role in the MIA was eliminated. After retiring from the railroad, Nixon worked as the recreation director of a public housing project.
He continued to work for civil rights, especially to improve housing and education for blacks in Montgomery.
Nixon died at the age of 87 on February 25, 1987.