Lucille Times just wanted to get some dry cleaning done. She ended up a major part of forgotten United States history.

Countless people stood up, marched, and resisted during the civil rights movement. This is the story of one such woman so fed up with the BS that decided to do something about.

(And the end is absolutely bonkers!)


Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King leading a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery. Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images.

It’s June 15, 1955.

Lucille Times, a 33-year-old black woman living in Montgomery, Alabama, drove her Buick LeSabre to the dry cleaners. On the way, a Montgomery municipal bus driver attempted to run her car off the road.

Not once. Not twice. But three separate times.

“The bus driver got angry and tried to run me off the road and into a ditch,” Times told Troy Today.

[rebelmouse-image 19534027 dam="1" original_size="450x500" caption="GIF from "The Daily Show."" expand=1]GIF from "The Daily Show."

After the third attempt, Times pulled over.

She hoped the bus would pass and she could carry on. Instead, the bus driver pulled up behind her and got out. Times got out of her car too.

The driver and Times had a heated altercation, exchanging expletives. She says the confrontation even got physical at one point, so the bus driver called the police. When they arrived on the scene, the Montgomery Police were of little help to Times. They didn't arrest her, but after nearly killing her, the bus driver went unpunished.

Steaming mad and frustrated, Times called the city transportation department. The city never returned her call.

[rebelmouse-image 19534028 dam="1" original_size="450x301" caption="GIF from "Pretty Woman."" expand=1]GIF from "Pretty Woman."

Fed up, Times went to the president of her NAACP unit. She wanted to start a bus boycott.

The president, E.D. Nixon, was a well-known union leader, strategist, and activist. He already had an idea for a bus boycott in the works and was looking for the perfect sympathetic plaintiff to be the face of the movement.

As empathetic to the cause as he was, he suggested Times wait to begin the boycott until after Thanksgiving so the city would lose out on fares from holiday shoppers. But that timeline didn’t suit Times. A veteran organizer herself, Times decided to go it alone. She started her boycott the next day.

[rebelmouse-image 19534029 dam="1" original_size="450x225" caption="GIF from "This Is Us."" expand=1]GIF from "This Is Us."

Times got in her car and drove around the city. When she saw black people at the bus stop, she offered to pick them up and take them to their destination.

She was one woman in a Buick, so the impact was relatively small, but her purpose and passion were undeniable. Soon, a few other friends and neighbors with cars joined in to help. Their boycott went on for nearly six months.

[rebelmouse-image 19534030 dam="1" original_size="450x208" caption="GIF from "Laugh at My Pain."" expand=1]GIF from "Laugh at My Pain."

Cut to Dec. 1, 1955: E.D. Nixon had finally found the perfect plaintiff for a potential bus boycott.

She was a seamstress and NAACP secretary trained in civil disobedience.  (Cough, cough, Rosa Parks, cough cough.)

After Thanksgiving, as planned, she sat down in the front of a Montgomery bus and refused to move. Parks' refusal and subsequent arrest triggered the official launch of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. E.D. Nixon got on the phone to find ministers and senior leaders in the church to help lead the effort. One person he called was Martin Luther King Jr. The rest of that story is 381 days of courage, grit, and U.S. history.

A man looking at a photograph of Rosa Parks at the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

But wait, there’s more. And it’s so, so good.

The driver of Rosa Parks’ bus was James Blake — the very same bus driver who tried to run Lucille Times off the road less than six months prior.

Wild, right?

In your face, bigots! GIF via Nickelodeon.

After the official launch of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Times continued to give rides to people in need.

She stepped up to serve in several capacities throughout the civil rights movement, providing space for organizers at the café she owned with her husband, as well as opening their home to NAACP meetings. She even marched the entire route from Selma to Montgomery, hosting 18 other marchers of all backgrounds at her home.

But while Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin made history books, Lucille Times is rarely mentioned.

However, the state of Alabama listed the Times’ home in the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 2007, and a large marker stands there today. Lucille Times is still alive and in her mid-90s.

[rebelmouse-image 19346715 dam="1" original_size="750x1000" caption="Photo of Lucille Times by R. Scott Golden/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Photo of Lucille Times by R. Scott Golden/Wikimedia Commons.

Not too shabby for a woman who just wanted to pick up her dry cleaning.

Shoutout to Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings at The Nod podcast for telling Lucille's story on their show and bringing it to my attention.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

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Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

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  • Intense fear or anxiety
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“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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