Interview with Joseph Azbell


Joseph Azbell:

For several years I rode the buses myself to work, and because most of everything that I covered was downtown. The downtown was where the news was, the police station was downtown and so forth. But what you did is you got on the bus, if you were white, and you put your coin in the little meter, and you took a bus seat in the front part of the bus. If you were, and in those days they referred to them as Negroes, and bus drivers sometimes used other words, but if you were black and you got on the bus, you put your money in the meter, in the little thing there, and you went past a line that was there and it was marked that that was for the blacks in the back of the bus, and you rode in the back of the bus. It was usually at the, where the back door started, and it was the back end of the bus. Most of the blacks went all the way to the back of the bus because it was more comfortable back there. And the whites were all in front, and the whites would take seats, they were allowed to take the seats of blacks. But the blacks were not allowed to take the seats of the whites. That was one of the big objections of the black community. And then there was a mistreatment of the black people by some of the bus drivers, and they would say, there was a court case on it, and a—it broke everybody in the courtroom up in howls. The bus driver was asked by Fred Gray, said, "What did you say to these people the, when you wanted them to move back to the back of the bus." And he said I would say "Would you Negroes please move to the rear of the bus." And everybody in the back in the courtroom broke out in absolute laughter because of the fact that everybody knew that he had said to them, "Will you niggers get to the back of the bus." And he had a pistol, the bus drivers carried a pistol, right beside them on all the buses. They were all white bus drivers. There were no black bus drivers.