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Ala. bus boycott organizer, professor dies at 96

Thelma McWilliams Glass, a longtime professor and civil rights pioneer who helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott, died on Wednesday. She was 96.

A statement from Alabama State University, where Glass was a professor of geography, said she died but did not give a cause.

"The ASU family lost one of its crown jewels today," said President William H. Harris. "Mrs. Glass was the consummate educator, whose life was a shining example of service, courage and commitment. She will be truly missed."

Glass was one of a group of women who helped put together the bus boycott in Montgomery in 1955. The effort came together after Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person.

The boycott by blacks in the city crippled the bus service and helped bring an end to segregation of public transportation in the South a year later. Glass was secretary of the Women's Political Council, a group that spread the word through the black community in Montgomery about the boycott.

"The men talked about it, you know, but we were ready to take action," Glass said during a recent interview with ASU Today Magazine.

Instead of riding buses, boycotters organized carpools to get to where they were going. Or they walked.

Glass also was an educator for 40 years, building a reputation for instilling in her students a desire to learn and become involved in the fight to end racial inequality.

Glass has an auditorium named after her in Trenholm Hall at Alabama State University — her alma mater. The university honored Glass with the Black and Gold Standard Award during the 2011 Founders' Day Convocation.

Glass was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She was also honored in 2011 by the National Alumni Association with the Harper Councill Trenholm Memorial Award.

Funeral arrangements for Glass have yet to be announced.

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