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Hartfield woman authors ‘Irene Morgan’s Bus Ride’

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Connie Coling of Hartfield displays her new book.

The book ‘Irene Morgan’s Bus Ride’ by Connie Coling of Hartfield has been published by The Friends of the Gloucester Museum and is for sale at the museum for $15.

The museum is located near the court circle in Gloucester Court House; its mailing address is P.O. Box 1176, Gloucester, VA 23061; and the phone number is 693-1234.

‘Irene Morgan’s Bus Ride’ tells the story of her ride in the summer of 1944 on a Greyhound bus, starting at Hayes Post Office near Guinea Road in Gloucester. She purchased a ticket to Baltimore, Md.

Irene was black and took a seat in the back of the bus just beyond the area reserved for white people. Irene and her two children had been staying with her mother while Irene recovered from a miscarriage. She was going to see her doctor near her home in Baltimore for a follow-up appointment.

When the bus picked up riders at Seawell’s Ordinary, the seats were all taken. The driver told Irene to give up her seat to a white couple and she refused. The bus driver drove to Saluda where a warrant was served. She resisted arrest and was jailed. She paid the fine for resisting arrest.

The second half of the book tells the story of Irene’s life. After leaving school at 12, she earned her GED at age 35, a bachelor’s degree in communications at 68, and her doctorate degree in urban studies at 73. She received many awards related to her bus ride. Her most prestigious award, the Presidential Citizens Medal, was given to her by President Clinton in 2001.

Author Connie Coling is a retired elementary school teacher who taught in Maryland and Virginia for 35 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in supervision of public schools from the University of Maryland. She owned and taught in her private nursery school in Clifton, Virginia, for 10 years and spent the rest of the years teaching grades 4-6.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 01.23.2013

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