The Montgomery Bus Boycott

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The Montgomery Bus Boycott Powered By Docstoc
					Ricky Curran / Joel Galtieri               Rough Draft                                     Period 2

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white male on December 1, 1955. The bus driver

called the police even though she moved to the rear of the bus. This event later led to a 382 day

bus boycott with nearly 40,000 participants.

The boycott was first organized by the Women’s Political Council after Rosa Park’s arrest on

December 1, 1955. The council, led by Joann Robinson handed out 52,000 fliers asking

Montgomery blacks to stay off buses on December 5, the day of Park’s trial. The Montgomery

chapter of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People began preparation for

the legal challenge. E.D. Nixon, an attorney, said “Mrs. Parks, with your permission we can

break down segregation on the bus with your case.” She talked about it with her husband and

mother. She then agreed.

Bus boycott planning continued in December of 1955. Reverend Martin Luther King Junior was

elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association. An estimated several thousand

black citizens attended the first MIA meeting, in Montgomery. At this meeting, Reverend A.W.

Wilson of the Holt Street Baptist Church rallied the citizens with these words “Until we do

something to stop these arrests, they will continue. The next time it may be you, or you, or you.”

On December 5, 1955, the planning of the MIA and NAACP finally paid off. On this day, 90%

of Montgomery African Americans stayed off city buses. December 5th marked the first day of

the year long bus boycott.

While the bus boycott continued, the MIA began to operate a car pool system. This car pool

system consisted of over 200 private cars, helping black citizens get to work each day. On

December 16, 1955, the vice president of the Montgomery Bus System met with city officials

and MIA leaders, to come up with a plan to resolve the boycott. After this meeting, the
Ricky Curran / Joel Galtieri                Rough Draft                                     Period 2

Montgomery Mayor "Tacky" Gayle formed a biracial committee, with its prime objective

negotiating the bus boycott.

In the midst of the boycott, violence continued to increase in Montgomery. The Montgomery

Advertiser newspaper announced that the city was almost at the point of a full scale racial war.

During this time, four African American churches were bombed, and protests continued to swell.

Near the end of January, violence was still raging. On January 30, Martin Luther King Jr., and

E.D. Nixon’s homes were bombed by a group of white protestors. On this same day, attorney

Fred D. Gray, who also represented Rosa Parks at her trial, began trying to resolve the bus

boycott. Fred D. Gray helped file a federal lawsuit challenging city and state segregation laws.

Fred D. Gray continued to work his legal magic throughout February of 1956. On February 1,

Gray and Charles Langford, another well known local attorney, filed the Browder v. Gayle

lawsuit, challenging bus segregation laws. This lawsuit was filed in the names of four African

Americans, one of them being Rosa Parks. The Browder v. Gayle suit was a huge step towards

negotiation and peace in Montgomery.

Unfortunately, the lawsuit didn’t have an instant effect on state and local leaders. During the

time the lawsuit was being processed, a Montgomery circuit judge ordered a grand jury

investigation into the bus boycott conspiracy violation. The next month, Martin Luther King Jr.

was fined $500 for violating boycott conspiracy laws.

In the next few months, local and state attorneys were as busy as ever, constantly reviewing

lawsuits and court cases. Most of these suits and cases were related to the bus boycott in some

way. Soon, another step was taken towards peace in Montgomery. In June of 1956, a federal

court ruled segregation unconstitutional and the court case went on appeal to the United States
Ricky Curran / Joel Galtieri              Rough Draft                                    Period 2

Supreme Court. MIA leaders and Montgomery citizens were at ease when they realized that their

protesting was finally paying off.

Through the summer of 1956, anti-segregation protesting continued and national news coverage

began. With national news coverage, MIA leader now had a chance to reach out to the entire

country. MIA leaders used this to help others understand what was going on in Montgomery, and

why they were protesting against segregation. Around this time, Martin Luther King Jr. was

featured on the cover of Times Magazine, along with an article explaining the bus boycott.

Many news stations were headlining stories consisting of phrases like “Montgomery on the verge

of settling buy boycott wars”. Nearly all Montgomery citizens wondered- will the Supreme Court

rule bus segregation unconstitutional?

Soon, one man was fully credited with the answer to that question. Attorney Fred Gray Sr. turned

a new page in history when he successfully argued the U.S. Supreme Court case that led to the

desegregation of Montgomery buses. To many, the unthinkable occurred on November 13, 1956.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Alabama’s bus segregation laws, and put an end to the

legal battle.

The next day, the MIA unanimously decided to end the now famous Montgomery bus boycott.

Montgomery African Americans began to board buses once again, nearly a year after the boycott

started. Unfortunately, the battle against violence was not yet finished. Throughout December of

1956, violence continued to spark in Montgomery. Eventually, this violence finally came to an

end after several whites spoke out against it. Luckily, Montgomery, Alabama soon became a city

of peace and equality.
Ricky Curran / Joel Galtieri                 Rough Draft                                      Period 2

As African Americans began to once again board city buses, and the violence and protests died,

one thing stayed alive. The impact that the Montgomery bus boycott had on the nation could

never be extinguished. As Roberta Wright wrote, “It helped to launch a ten year national struggle

for freedom and justice, the Civil Rights Movement; that stimulated other to do the same at home

and abroad.” The effects on the bus boycott did not end in Montgomery. The Supreme Court

continued to spread desegregation when the Brown v. Board of Education case decided that

segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The effects were truly endless. Even today,

segregation virtually does not exist, largely because of the bus boycott and the Civil Rights


After the boycott, Rosa Parks was an advocate for fair treatment and equality. Rosa Parks talks

about the aftermath of the boycott saying, “There is work to do. That is why I cannot stop or sit

still. As long as a child needs help, as long as people are not free, there will be work to do.” In an

interview, Rosa Parks proclaimed that “Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of


After a life of striving for equality, the “mother of the Civil Right Movement” passed away on

October 14th, 2005 at the age of 92. Rosa Parks was the first woman in American history to lie in

state at the Capitol, an honor usually reserved for Presidents of the United States. A woman

whose courage changed the lives of many and fought for what was right, will always be


In Reverend Robert Graetz’s words, “The bus boycott, you have to remember was the beginning

of the modern Civil Rights Movement.” “Once the boycott started here, it spread to other cities.
Ricky Curran / Joel Galtieri               Rough Draft                                    Period 2

It encouraged people to get involved in other ways in dealing with other aspects of segregation

and discrimination.”

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