[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 158 (2012), Part 9]
[Page 13061]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Alabama (Ms. Sewell) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. SEWELL. I rise today to recognize and pay tribute to a 
distinguished Alabama educator and civil rights pioneer, Professor 
Thelma McWilliams Glass. She was known for her exemplary efforts in the 
field of higher education and her tireless commitment to the struggle 
for racial equality.
  Professor Thelma Glass was the last surviving member of the Women's 
Political Council, the organization that was instrumental in the 
planning and organization of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the 1950s.
  She recently passed away in Montgomery, Alabama, on Wednesday, July 
25, at the age of 96.
  Professor Thelma Glass was born in Mobile, Alabama, on May 16, 1916, 
and at an early age was instilled with a love of learning that led to 
her lifelong pursuit of academic excellence. She graduated 
valedictorian of Dunbar High School in Mobile, Alabama, at the age of 
15 and earned a bachelor's degree from Alabama State University and a 
master's degree from Columbia University, both in geography.
  In 1942, Thelma McWilliams married the love of her life, Arthur 
Glass. They were both professors at Alabama State University for over 
40 years. Their love for each other was as strong as their dedication 
and commitment to the students they taught at Alabama State University. 
After 41 years of marriage, her husband, Professor Arthur Glass, passed 
away in 1983.
  Professor Thelma Glass was an accomplished educator who taught 
geography at Alabama State University for 40 years. She led by example, 
displaying the same exceptionalism, tenacity, and commitment to public 
service that she demanded of her students. After four decades of 
dedication to Alabama State University and her community activism, in 
1981, the Thelma M. Glass auditorium in Trenholm Hall was dedicated on 
the campus of Alabama State University in her honor.
  Professor Glass was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, 
showing great courage as she stood up to social injustices of 
segregated Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1950s. She was a core member and 
secretary of the Women's Political Council that formed at Alabama State 
University to campaign against the abuses and the indignities of 
  The activism of the Women's Political Council laid the groundwork for 
the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott. When Rosa Parks set the protest 
into motion with her arrest in 1955 after refusing to give up her seat 
on the bus, women like Professor Thelma Glass were ready and willing to 
fight against such racial injustice.
  The Women's Political Council was soon absorbed into the newly formed 
Montgomery Improvement Association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at 
its helm. Professor Glass continued to play an integral role by copying 
thousands of flyers and recruiting her students to help spread the word 
of the bus boycott. She risked her life driving in carpools and 
organizing transportation for those participating in the boycott.
  The success of the Montgomery boycott pushed the civil rights 
movement into full force, as African Americans across the South fought 
against racial inequality and ultimately led to the signing of the 
Voting Rights Act in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
  It was women like Professor Glass who refused to sit on the sidelines 
and be a footnote in history that made it possible for all of us to 
enjoy the rights that we do today. I know I would not be standing here 
today as the first African American Congresswoman from Alabama if not 
for activists like Professor Thelma Glass.
  The remarkable career of Professor Thelma Glass as an educator and 
civil rights activist has been recognized by numerous awards. In 2011, 
Professor Glass received the Black and Gold Standard Award, one of the 
highest honors awarded to an alumnus by Alabama State University. 
Professor Glass was an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the 
Montgomery chapter of the Links Incorporated, and St. John A.M.E. 
  Thelma Glass was, indeed, an inspiration to all. I know on a personal 
note, Professor Glass served as a role model and mentor to my mother 
Nancy Gardner Sewell, whom she encouraged as a student at Alabama State 
University to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She was the epitome of 
a woman of grace and style who lifted as she climbed.
  I stand on the shoulders of these trailblazing activists such as 
Professor Glass, this remarkable woman who paved the way for the 
advancement of African Americans.
  Our Nation is eternally grateful to Professor Thelma Glass' 
commitment to racial equality and social justice that is a great 
example to all of us. She left an indelible mark on the State of 
Alabama and on this Nation, and today I proudly stand to acknowledge 
her legacy and hope that we all remember it for generations to come.