The Montgomery Bus Boycott

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1955-1956

Sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks on 1 December 1955, the Montgomery bus boycott was a 13-month mass protest that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public busses is unconstitutional. The roots of the bus boycott began years before the arrest of Rosa Parks. The women's political council (WPC), a group of black professionals founded in 1946, had already turned their attention to Jim Crow practices on the Montgomery city buses. King recalled in his memoir that ‘‘Mrs. Parks was ideal for the role assigned to her by history,’’ and because ‘‘her character was impeccable and her dedication deep-rooted’’ she was ‘‘one of the most respected people in the Negro community’’ (King, 44). On 5 December, 90 percent of Montgomery’s black citizens stayed off the buses. That afternoon, the city’s ministers and leaders met to discuss the possibility of extending the boycott into a long-term campaign. During this meeting the MIA was formed, and King was elected president. Parks recalled: ‘‘The advantage of having Dr. King as president was that he was so new to Montgomery and to civil rights work that he hadn’t been there long enough to make any strong friends or enemies’’ (Parks, 136). The demands were not met, and Montgomery’s black residents stayed off the buses through 1956, despite efforts by city officials and white citizens to defeat the boycott. After the city began to penalize black taxi drivers for aiding the boycotters, the MIA organized a carpool. In early 1956, the homes of King and E. D. Nixon were bombed. King was able to calm the crowd that gathered at his home by declaring: ‘‘Be calm as I and my family are. We are not hurt and remember that if anything happens to me, there will be others to take my place’’ (Papers 3:115)

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King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929-1968)

leaders of the boycott, a young pastor named Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-68), emerged as a prominent national leader of the American civil rights movement in the wake of the action. King’s leadership was his ability to establish support from many types of organizations including labor unions, peace organizations, southern reform organizations, and religious groups. In December 1955, when Montgomery’s black leaders, including Jo Ann Robinson, E.D. Nixon, and Ralph Abernathy formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) to protest the arrest of NAACP official Rosa Park for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, they selected King to head the new group. In his role as the primary spokesman of the year-long Montgomery bus boycott, King utilized the leadership abilities he had gained from his religious background and academic training to forge a distinctive protest strategy that involved the mobilization of black churches and skillful appeals for white support. Alabama bus segregation laws in Browder v. Gayle in late 1956, King sought to expand the nonviolent civil rights movement throughout the South King’s rise to fame was not without personal consequences.Martin Luther King emerged as a prominent national leader of the civil rights movement while also solidifying his commitment to nonviolent resistance. King’s approach remained a hallmark of the civil rights movement throughout the 1960s. Shortly after the boycott’s end, he helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a highly influential civil rights organization that worked to end segregation throughout the South. during which King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The boycott also brought national and international attention to the civil rights struggles occurring in the U.S., as more than 100 reporters visited Montgomery during the boycott to profile the effort and its leaders. In 1958 King was the victim of his first assassination attempt. it was while signing copies of Stride Toward Freedom that Izola Ware Curry stabbed him with a letter opener

Rosa Parks

When an African-American passenger boarded the bus, they had to get on at the front to pay their fare and then get off and re-board the bus at the back door. When the seats in the front of the bus filled up and more white passengers got on, the bus driver would move back the sign separating black and white passengers and, if necessary, ask black passengers give up their seat. but on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus for home. She took a seat in the first of several rows designated for "colored" passengers. As the bus Rosa was riding continued on its route, it began to fill with white passengers. Eventually, the bus was full and the driver noticed that several white passengers were standing in the aisle. He stopped the bus and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row and asked four black passengers to give up their seats. Three complied, but Rosa refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, "Why don't you stand up?" to which Rosa replied, "I don't think I should have to stand up." The driver called the police and had her arrested. Later, Rosa recalled that her refusal wasn't because she was physically tired, but that she was tired of giving in. The police arrested Rosa at the scene and charged her with violation of Chapter 6, Section 11, of the Montgomery City Code. She was taken to police headquarters, where, later that night, she was released on bail.

Boycott

Thursday, Dec. 1st 1955 at 9pm

Montgomery, AL, United States

Montgomery, AL

Bus Boycott