On February 2o, E.D. Nixon died at the age of 87 of cardiac arrest.
E. D. Nixon was a long time activist, outspoken organizer in the African-American community and past president of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
He was also a Pullman porter who was greatly inspired by A. Philip Randolph. “I never knew the Negro had a right to enjoy freedom like everyone else,” Nixon said of meeting Randolph. “When Randolph stood there and talked that day it made a different man out me. From that day on, I was determined that I was gonna fight for freedom until I was able to get some of it myself.”
In the 1920s and 1930s, he worked closely with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters under the leadership of Randolph to organize fellow workers into the union. Nixon also assisted many other workers to organize and fight for union wages and better working conditions in Alabama. In 1944, he led 750 African Americans in a march to the Montgomery County Courthouse where they tried to register to vote.
E. D. - the letters stand for Edgar Daniel - organized the historic Montgomery bus boycott. He was also chairman of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) which was formed to organize the boycott.
“The Montgomery Improvement Association was not started just because someone came to town or someone felt it was the proper thing to do at this time. It was started because there had been a struggle of people for long years,” Nixon said.
Nixon met Rosa Parks, a seamstress at a local department store, when he worked with the NAACP. After Mrs. Parks, also a member of the N.A.A.C.P., told him she had been pushed from a city bus by a white driver when she sat in the front, Mr. Nixon said, ”I told her if she was ever arrested in such an incident, call me.”
”When they did arrest her, it was on one of those old Jim Crow segregationist laws,” Nixon said. ”I knew then that something could be done.” Mr. Nixon put up bail for Mrs. Parks and history was written.
French journalist Daniel Guerin described Nixon as “a vigorous colored union militant who was the leading spirit in this city of both the local union of Sleeping Car Porters and the local branch of the NAACP. What a difference from other branches of the Association, which are controlled by dentists, pastors and undertakers. Nixon has both feet on the ground. He is linked to the masses.”
Surviving are his wife, Arlet Nixon of Montgomery; a son, Edgar D. Nixon Jr. of Los Angeles; four sisters, Jeraldine Nixon, Mary Nixon, Elizabeth Nixon and Polly Nixon, all of Montgomery, and a brother, Henry Nixon of Montgomery.