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The Montgomery Bus Boycott

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

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The Montgomery Bus Boycott

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  1. The Montgomery Bus Boycott English 12 K. Curran

  2. December, 1955 • The story of the boycott is often simplified… • Rosa Parks, a weary seamstress, refused to move to the back of the bus and give her seat to a white man. • There is MORE to this story…

  3. Jo Ann Robinson • Women’s Political Council • Professor • Had been removed from the front of an empty bus in 1949 • Began drumming up support for a boycott of busses in Montgomery

  4. Claudette Colvin • The NAACP looked for the perfect person to test the segregation laws in Alabama • When 15 year old Claudette Colvin was arrested for not giving up her seat, they thought they had found the perfect candidate

  5. “Above Reproach” • When it was discovered that Claudette Colvin was pregnant (and unwed), she was dropped as the test subject • ED Nixon of the NAACP explained “I had to be sure I had somebody I could win with. Someone “above reproach.” • Enter Rosa Parks

  6. A Simple Weary Seamstress? • Rosa Parks was educated, active in the NAACP, and a well-respected Civil Rights worker in Montgomery, Alabama • She was aware of Claudette Colvin’s case, and knew that the black community in Montgomery was looking for a case to test segregation laws.

  7. Bus Rules • On busses in Montgomery, Alabama, there was a section for white riders at the front, and a separate section for black riders at the back. • Rosa Parks sat in the first of the “black” rows of seats • When the “white” seats filled, blacks had to give up their own row and move farther back, since blacks and whites could not occupy the same row, legally. Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her designated “black” seat to a standing white patron.

  8. BOYCOTT! • Jo Ann Robinson, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and ED Nixon of the NAACP formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) and began to spread the word of a bus boycott to protest the arrest of Ms. Parks.

  9. December, 1955 • Dr. King and the MIA met with the bus company to try to orchestrate a desegregation plan, but were refused • The city of Montgomery attempted to end the boycott by making it illegal for taxis to charge less than 45 cents. This is because black-owned cab services had been charging the bus rate of 10 cents to boycotting citizens.

  10. Private Taxis • The MIA arranged for community members who owned cars to drive boycotting citizens to work • This system worked “with military precision”, and required a Transportation Committee to oversee it.

  11. Dirty Tactics • The town of Montgomery tried to stop the boycott in a number of ways, including direct manipulation of the media. Stories were printed in the local papers suggesting that the boycott was over, and civil rights activists had to race to every church, pub, and gathering place in the community to ensure that citizens did not ride the bus.

  12. Dirty Tactics • The town of Montgomery also invoked an ancient law prohibiting boycotts. Under this law, Reverend King was arrested, fined $1000, and threatened with incarceration. • None of the town’s attempts to end the boycott worked • The (white) business community in Montgomery was becoming concerned

  13. The following is a series of cartoons by Laura Gray that appeared in The Militant, a civil rights publication in Alabama, in 1956:

  14. Court Battle • Brown vs. the Board of Education decision supported desegregation • Faced with the concern that desegregation would lead to violence, the judge stated “Is it fair to ask one man to surrender his constitutional rights… in order to prevent another man from committing a crime?”

  15. A Legal Victory • On November 13th, 1956, the US Supreme Court determined that segregation on busses was unconstitutional. • After a full year of walking to work, Mother Pollard, a community member, was quoted as saying “my feets is weary, but my soul is rested.”

  16. Violence • On December 21st, 1956, Montgomery blacks ended the bus boycott • This action was met with violence, including snipers shooting at busses and a series of bombings of the homes and offices of civil rights workers. Five men were arrested, two confessed, and none were convicted of these crimes

  17. The KKK • The KKK also tried to intimidate the civil rights activists of Montgomery • Reverend King suggested that their scare tactics seemed to have lost their spell. “One cold night a small negro boy was seen warming his hands at a burning cross.”

  18. Legacy • The violence in Montgomery eventually died down, and busses became fully desegregated • Rosa Parks’ ‘simple act’ of civil disobedience began a year-long boycott that saw a community work together to fight for rights • This helped to launch the struggle for freedom and justice known as the civil rights movement

  19. And the bus…? • The bus was de-commissioned in the late 1950s, and the company attempted to sell it for scrap • The African American community rallied to have it kept as a monument to the Civil Rights Movement • The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit bid $427,919 at an auction in 2001, beating out the city of Denver, Colorado and the Smithsonian Institution.

  20. Web Resources Gratefully Cited: • • • • • • • • • • • • •