Video used by permission courtesy of: Office of Information Technology – Media Production Group, Auburn University, AL 36849, (formerly Auburn University Telecommunications/ETV) and Alabama State University circa 1982 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED/Producer/Director-Tom C. Lenard
Affectionately dubbed as the father of the civil rights movement, Nixon was the head of the Montgomery branch of the Pullman Porters union and president of the local NAACP. Long before the famous boycott, Nixon had been campaigning for civil rights, particularly voting rights, working in the black community to get people registered to vote. He was well known for interceding on behalf of those who asked for his help with white office holders, police and other officials.
He organized a group of 750 men who marched to the Montgomery County courthouse in 1940 to attempt to register to vote. He also ran for a seat on the county Democratic executive committee in 1954 and questioned candidates for the Montgomery City Commission on their position on civil rights issues the following year. Nixon is credited for helping to bail Rosa Parks out of jail.
He, along with white supporters Clifford and Virginia Durr, bailed her out after a family friend called to tell him she had been arrested. Nixon believed Parks was the ideal candidate to challenge the discriminatory seating policy. After speaking with her family, Parks agreed.
Nixon later had sharp disagreements with leaders in the MIA during those years, expressing resentment at some, including King and Abernathy, alleging that they received more credit. He resigned as treasurer of the MIA with a bitter letter to King complaining that he had been treated as a child. It’s reported that he continued to feud with Montgomery’s black middle class community for the next decade, losing his leadership status in the wake of political defeats in the late 1960s.
He retired from the railroad and worked as the recreation director of a public housing project.