port of harlem magazine
Theo Hodge, Jr. M.D.
Passenger Jane Gunter and Attorney Fred Gray Added to
Rosa Park’s Story

December 19 – January 1, 2020
Praising the Past

jane gunter

When White bus driver James Fred Blake told Rosa Parks that she needed to give her seat to a White man, Jane Gunter, a young White woman, offered Parks her seat. Though this part of the Park’s story seldom makes the final cut, Gunter was at the opening of the Library of Congress’ Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words exhibition to add to the story of the civil rights icon along with Fred Gray, Park’s attorney.

The very poised Gunter told Port Of Harlem that she recalls saying to Blake, “Oh, she can have my seat.”  Then, a White male passenger physically touched her and instructed, “Don’t you dare move!”  Gunter said she did as the man instructed.  She explained, “It was 1955; women did what men said.”

After the “ugly” incident, Gunter said she remained silent for nearly 40 years and did not meet Parks again until a planned 1992 meeting in Park’s Atlanta hotel room. Parks confirmed that Gunter was not an imposter because Gunter knew the details of the incident.

Gunter is now a pastor at Family Life Ministries in Haperville, Georgia where she says she knows racism exists, but she does not live in that world. She explained in a earlier interview  “I live in a whole different bubble . . .  I don’t see division, I know it’s there,  I don’t live in any of that.” She is also involved with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.

Attorney Gray defended Claudette Colvin and later Parks, both were charged with disorderly conduct for refusing to seat themselves in the rear of city buses. He also defended Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from charges of tax evasion, winning an acquittal from an all-White jury.

The Montgomery, Alabama native and licensed preacher successfully represented Vivian Malone and James Hood, who had been denied admission to the University of Alabama, and they entered the university despite Governor George Wallace's Stand in the Schoolhouse Door incident. In 1994, Gray released his first version of his autobiography, Bus Ride to Justice.

Read Also: Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words Exhibition

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