Who is Sarah Keys Evans?

Sarah Keys Evans

Presented By Eastern Carolina Christian College and Seminary

Produced by Les Atkins

Before Rosa Parks, there was Sarah Keys Evans, who refused to give up her seat to a white marine while traveling from Fort Dix, NJ to her hometown, Washington, North Carolina.

August 1, 1952, Sarah Keys Evans, during an unexpected driver change in Roanoke Rapids, NC, was asked to give up her seat and move to the rear of the bus. in 1946, it was declared that buses originating in the North that did not make any changes, did not have to adhere to Southern local laws.

Understanding her rights, she refused to give up her seat. The driver ordered all the other passengers off the bus except Sarah and she was later arrested and held in custody for 13 hours before being released and ordered to pay a $25 fine for disorderly conduct. She was taken to the bus station, given an assigned seat, and told not to move until she reached her destination.

With the help of her father, Keys took her case to lower court, where she lost. Afterwhich, she and her family went to get help from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Dovey J. Roundtree and Julius Robertson on the case. Keys, armed with a new team, took her case before the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and won. The Keys vs. Carolina Coach Company case was settled November 7, 1955.

“When she boarded the bus that day, she did not know she would be making history.”

Dr. Blair Kelly

Dr. Blair Kelly, author and professor of history at North Carolina State University, led a lecture on the historical impact of Sarah Keys Evans.