Freedom Riders Bus Driver, Entrepreneur Herbert Young Passes Away at 86

Freedom Riders Bus Driver, Entrepreneur Herbert Young Passes Away at 86

Herbert Young, famously known for driving the bus that escorted the Freedom Riders from protests in Montgomery, AL, has passed away at 86.

The Freedoms Riders consisted of groups of Black and white civil rights activists who challenged segregation on interstate buses and bus terminals in various states in 1961.

Although details surrounding Young’s death are limited, his obituary stated that he died on Jan. 2. Throughout his life, Young made history in his own right, aside from being known as the Freedom Riders’ bus driver. The obituary highlighted that Young, who worked as a bus driver after graduating high school, was one of the first Black individuals to unite the Montgomery Area Transit System and train new bus drivers of all races. 

After Young’s time at the transit system ended, he attended and graduated from the police academy at Northwestern University. According to The Montgomery Advertiser, Young served in Montgomery’s Police Department for five years and was ultimately appointed the first Black deputy marshal. Alongside his job in the police force, Young also developed other businesses in Alabama, including a car lot, car wash, bus transportation services, limousine service, and a beauty salon.

Days after Young’s passing, during an interview with The Montgomery Advertiser, a community advocate named Cubie Hayes expressed her sorrow about losing the “trailblazer.” She told the publication that she wasn’t aware of Young’s huge contribution to society. Hayes said, “I was sitting by a Black history icon and had no idea. Montgomery lost a great icon and trailblazer — Black trailblazer.”

Young’s friend and co-worker at the Ross-Clayton Funeral Home, where he worked on and off his entire life, Joe Kendrick, shared that “he will be missed.”

Young is survived by his family, which consists of his sister, six children, six great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and the entire Montgomery community.