What if you made a bold move which could not only put your life in danger, but also make you a pioneer of civil rights in Central Texas?
One woman did this and made a lasting impression in black history.
“Definitely the N-word…..and to his commands were, to move to the back of the bus,” says Jewel Lockridge. “I can now feel that feeling that was in my stomach, and it was it was one of fear. He could’ve done any number of things, I suppose.”
It was the 1960’s when Lockridge would take the most memorable bus ride of her life as a teenager. The Waco Independent School District was the largest segregated school system in Texas at the time. Racial tensions were high, and the Civil Rights Movement was spreading.
“Coupled with that fear was this determination not to move. Because I know that I didn’t have to move. He couldn’t make me move,” Lockridge says.
This protest would change her life forever.
“All these years later, I am sitting once again in the seat that I sat in – that caused all of this,” Lockridge says. “The difference now is that I’m a lot older and a lot more aware of the consequences that could have come from me taking the seat back when I did.”
The 15-year-old A.J. Moore High School student boarded the Waco city bus near 17th Street and Wood Avenue in 1964. She wanted to go shopping downtown, but this came with a price.
“Even though we were allowed to sit on the front seat, the bus driver was having none of that,” Lockridge says. “And throughout the ride he made racial slurs, he used the N-word, he threatened me. Whatever he could do to make me move to the rear of the bus.”
This continued when it was time for Lockridge to get off at her stop.
“Even though I was sitting at the front of the bus, he wouldn’t open the front door. He only opened the back door,” Lockridge says.
Over the years, Lockridge’s refusal to move has garnered her comparisons to Rosa Parks – a woman she deeply respects.
“I would’ve loved to have spoken with Rosa Parks. She probably could have said, ‘Girl, you have no idea what you did!,'” Lockridge says.
Lockridge became one of the first African-American students to graduate from Baylor University. She also received her Master’s Degree and doctorate from Texas A&M University, and is now one of the leading educators at Live Oak Waco.
If you want to learn about more iconic African-Americans making their mark on Central Texas, you can join FOX 44 this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. as we celebrate Black History Month. You can also visit our Hidden History page here.