Sarah Mae Flemming

Civil rights activist

Sarah Mae Flemming (1933-1993) was an Eastover, South Carolina native. In 1954, a year before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus, 20 year-old Sarah Mae Flemming was forced from a downtown Columbia bus. Flemming sued the bus company, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SC E&G). She lost her civil suit against the bus company, but the U.S. Appellate Court ruled that the principles decided in the Brown v. Board (1954) decision applied to transportation, which meant bus segregation was unconstitutional. Flemming’s case was cited in the lawsuit that ended the Montgomery bus boycott. A few years later, the Freedom Riders traveled the South on a campaign to challenge segregation on interstate buses. Today, the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Columbia is named Sarah Mae Flemming Way.

Image courtesy of the Getty Images

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