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Alabama State University renames residence hall in honor of Alabama civil rights hero

Montgomery County Archives

Alabama State University is renaming one of its residence halls for Alabama civil rights legend and former ASU professor Jo Ann Robinson.

The residence hall was previously named in honor of David Bibb Graves, Alabama’s 39th governor who also held the position of Grand Cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan. The board of trustees for the university voted unanimously to rename Bibb Graves Hall after Robinson, citing her status as a civil rights hero and her leadership during the Montgomery bus boycotts.

Robinson moved to Montgomery in 1949 to teach at Alabama State University. Shortly after arriving, Robinson became active in the Women’s Political Council, a civic organization for African American professional women. Robinson became president of the WPC the next year, and prioritized desegregating Montgomery’s busses.

After Rosa Park’s arrest in 1955, Robinson organized a one-day boycott of the city’s busses. The success of the protests led to the establishment of the Montgomery Improvement Association, an organization to organize further civil rights protests. Eventually, the MIA elected Martin Luther King Jr. as its president.

In his memoir “Stride Toward Freedom,” King described Robison as “apparently indefatigable, she, perhaps more than any other person, was active on every level of the protest.”