Alabama State Professor, Civil Rights Pioneer Dies at 96

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Thelma McWilliams Glass, a longtime professor and civil rights pioneer who helped launch the Montgomery Bus Boycott, has died. She was 96.

A statement from Alabama State University, where Glass was a professor of geography, said Glass died Wednesday.

“The ASU family lost one of its crown jewels today,” said President William H. Harris. “Mrs. Glass was the consummate educator, whose life was a shining example of service, courage and commitment. She will be truly missed.”

Glass was one of a group of women who helped launch the bus boycott in Montgomery and bring an end to segregation of public transportation in the South. She also was secretary of the Women’s Political Council, a group that spread the word through the Black community in Montgomery about the boycott.

“The men talked about it, you know, but we were ready to take action,” Glass said during a recent interview with ASU Today Magazine.

Glass was an educator for 40 years, building a reputation for instilling in her students a desire to learn and become involved in the fight to end racial inequality.

Glass has an auditorium named after her in Trenholm Hall at Alabama State University her alma mater. The university honored Glass with the Black and Gold Standard Award during the 2011 Founders’ Day Convocation.

Glass was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She was also honored in 2011 by the National Alumni Association with the Harper Councill Trenholm Memorial Award.

Funeral arrangements for Glass have yet to be announced.