Parker refuses to give up his seat on the bus.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 April 1943.

Meet James Parker, American hero.

In April 1943, Parker boarded a Wilson city bus on Saturday evening. He sat down in the white section and remained firmly ensconced when the driver asked him to move. The driver, James Batchelor, abandoned his route to drive the bus to the police station, where Parker was arrested and charged with violating North Carolina’s “passenger law,” which allowed for the designation of colored and white sections in commercial transport vehicles. Parker was adjudged guilty and given a thirty-day suspended sentence provided he remain “in good behavior.” Per the Daily Times, Parker was the first person to challenge Jim Crow laws in Wilson County in 25 years.  

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.


    1. “James Parker” is such a common name in Wilson County that I was not able to identify specifically which man this was. As he was an adult in 1943, however, it is unlikely that he is still alive.

  1. I am Gary Parker originally from Wilson. I have lived a life of protest and served as a State Senator in Georgia. Now I know where my protest spirit comes from. I also learned of the Black teachers walkout and establishment of a independent colored school. With Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. first making his “I have a dream speech” in Rocky Mount in 1962, I am even more proud to come from the area.

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