Washington native who refused to give up bus seat could receive Congressional Gold Medal

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WITN) – Two congressmen want the U.S. House and Senate to honor an Eastern Carolina veteran for being a pivotal figure in the civil rights movement.

Sarah Keys Evans, who was born in Washington, was a private first class in the Women’s Army Corps. She was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus from New Jersey to North Carolina in 1952 — three years before Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott. The arrest happened in Roanoke Rapids.

Historians say the woman’s court case laid the foundation for civil rights advocates in the years to come. In 1955, the Interstate Commerce Commission ruled in Keys Evans’ favor several months before Parks was arrested in Alabama.

Congressman G.K. Butterfield, along with California Congressman Mark Takano, want Keys Evans to receive the Congressional Gold Medal Act. Congress would have to approve the Sarah Keys Evans Congressional Gold Medal Act.

That medal is the highest civilian honor given by members of Congress.

Butterfield says only 163 people have been given the medal since 1776, the first going to President George Washington.

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