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Published by kcronin, 2019-11-26 05:07:48

Montgomery bus boycott master modified

Montgomery bus boycott master modified

“You know my friends, there comes a time when people get
tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppression … If we
are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we
are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. And
if we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong,
Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never
came down to Earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has
no meaning. And we are determined here in Montgomery to
work and fight until justice runs down like water, and
righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., Address to the first Montgomery Improvement
Association (MIA) Mass Meeting, at Holt Street Baptist Church, Dec. 5, 1955.

Montgomery, Alabama is a city that has been steeped in history since African American slaves including men, women and children were day to day routine. Despite being its core customer base African
its foundation in 1819. In addition to being the state capital of confined to warehouses on Commerce Street and Market Street until Americans were forced to comply with state segregation laws which
Alabama it became the first capital of the Confederate States of they could be sold at auction. Following the Union forces victory in the designated how they entered, and when and where they could sit on
America, also known as the Confederacy in February, 1861. The First American Civil war, slavery was abolished in Montgomery and the bus.
White House of the Confederacy was the Executive Residence of throughout the United States of America with the passing of the 13th
President Jefferson Davis and family until late May 1861, when the Amendment of the Constitution in 1865. With it came the promise of The arrest of Rosa Parks on 1st December was to lead to an organised
Confederate capital moved to Richmond, Virginia. ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ for the newly freed slaves, but and unified non-violent civil resistance campaign of boycotting,
in the century that followed a new system of racial segregation was to be marching and walking the likes of which had never been seen in the
Prior to the outset of the Civil War, the city prospered greatly from its implemented throughout the south. What became known as Jim Crow Southern states. Heroes from the campaign include Rosa Parks, Jo Ann
involvement in the cotton and slave trade, which was aided by its key laws were to create a divided society in the south and permeated all Robinson, Edgar Daniel Nixon plus tens of thousands of supporters. It
location on the Alabama river. Montgomery became a central point for aspects of life. This included schools, restaurants, public amenities, also was to herald the arrival of a young Baptist minister from
slave trading in the years leading up to 1861. The river facilitated restrooms, transportation and waiting areas. Atlanta, Georgia - Dr Martin Luther King Jr to the epicentre of the civil
transfer of slaves, via steamboat from Mobile, Alabama, New Orleans, rights movement.
Louisiana and from West Point, Georgia via rail. According to the Equal By the time of Rosa Parks arrest on 1st December 1955, there were
Justice Initiative “hundreds of enslaved people began arriving by rail approximately 40,000 African Americans living in Montgomery, The boycott which lasted 13 months is commemorated in these 7
and by boat each day in Montgomery, turning the city into a principal comprising over a third of the city’s population. Owing to the exhibits which detail the background, origin, central figures,
slave trading center in Alabama … [and] the Montgomery probate socio-economic divide the Montgomery bus system was primarily establishment response, resolution and ultimate legacy the
office granted at least 164 licenses to slave traders operating in the utilised by black travellers who depended on it for getting around the establishment of a Civil Rights Movement determined to no longer
city from 1848 to 1860.” (Equality Justice Initiative, 2013). city and travelling to and from their places of work, education and their accept the status quo of racial segregation for the African American
people, as second class citizens.

“All persons born or naturalized in the United
States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are

citizens of the United States and of the state
wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce

any law which shall abridge the privileges or
immunities of citizens of the United States; nor
shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or
property, without due process of law; nor deny to

any person within its jurisdiction the equal
protection of the laws.”

The 14th Amendment of the United States constitution

Following the defeat of the Confederate forces in the Civil War, slavery From 1877 to the 1960s Jim Crow laws could be found in use, particularly The Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court Case of (1896) upheld the
was abolished in the United States of America on December 18th, in border and southern states of America including Georgia, Tennessee, ‘Separate Car Law’ by ruling that “that so long as state governments
1865. The newly freed slaves were now for the first time deemed as Mississippi and Alabama where slave holdings had been provided legal process and legal freedoms for blacks, equal to those of
equals in the eyes of the constitution and amendments such as the prevalent. In the new post slavery era, Southern States began testing the whites, they could maintain separate institutions to facilitate these
13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were enacted to protect these Constitution and the Constitutional protections afforded to African rights” (Ferris State University, 2000). The State of Louisiana’s erosion
liberties. No sooner had these safeguards been enshrined in the Americans by bringing in laws to see how far they could ‘legitimately’ of citizen’s equality and civil rights had been ‘legitimised’ in the
constitution than they were to come under challenge in the southern segregate. Federal Court of law and this gave other states the impetus to
states of America. The previous slavery regime was replaced by introduce further repressive legislation.
systematic discrimination and segregation of the newly freed slaves One of the most significant early examples of this was the ‘Separate Car
from mainstream society through the use of ‘Jim Crow Laws’. The Jim Law’ introduced by the State of Louisiana in 1890. Under the guise of The segregation of African Americans from mainstream white society
Crow system was introduced as a means of ‘legitimizing’ segregation improving the comfort of passengers travelling by public transport the was fundamental to the Jim Crow systems. Jim Crow laws permeated
and again marginalising the African American population to second law proposed ‘separate, but equal facilities’ travel cars for black and across all levels of society and community in the pre-civil rights era.
class citizen. As Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology at Ferris white passengers. Failure to comply with this ruling in the State of Segregation of schools, buses, hotels, public restaurants, plus
University espoused, “Jim Crow was more than a series of rigid anti- Louisiana would result in arrest. In 1891, Homer A. Plessy who was 7/8 discriminatory employment practices and barriers to voting, were
black laws. It was a way of life.” (Ferris State University, 2000). The white and 1/8 black became a test case to the law, when he occupied a widespread leading to further disenfranchisement of the minority
legitimisation of discrimination was based on moral and theological seat in the white only carriage and was subsequently arrested. black population. Failure to comply with local Jim Crow laws could
justification. “Craniologists, eugenicists, phrenologists, and Social result in arrest, violent attacks and sometimes death.
Darwinists, at every educational level, buttressed the belief that blacks
were innately intellectually and culturally inferior to whites” (Ferris
State University, 2000).

Four years after the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court Case, in 1900, regardless of the passenger’s race. According to the United States In the case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) the US Supreme
Montgomery passed a city ordinance for the purpose of segregating Census, the population of Montgomery was to rise from 78,084 to Court ruled that racially segregated schools were illegal. Prior to this,
passengers by race. Bus conductors were given powers to assign seats 106,525 between 1940 and 1950. By 1955 there were approximately the Jim Crow system had ensured that whites and African Americans
to passengers to achieve this objective. While the directive was 40,000 African Americans living in Montgomery who were dependent on were segregated at all levels of schooling.
initially not intended for passengers to have to move if the bus the bus for their day to day living. Despite this fact there were no black
became full, the practice of conductors asking black passengers to conductors on the city buses when the boycott began. On March 2nd 1955, Claudette Colvin, who was just 15 at the time,
move whenever no ‘white only’ seats were available was to become was arrested following her refusal to give up her seat on a
standard practice in Montgomery. A number of key events took place, in the years preceding December, Montgomery Bus. Even though she was seated in the middle
1955, which were catalysts to the boycott: The Women’s Political Council unreserved section, when the ‘white only’ seats were filled, the bus
Montgomery’s strict segregation laws stipulated that on the city buses, in Montgomery was established in 1946, by scholar and Alabama State conductor asked her to move and when she refused she was arrested.
the front 10 seats were permanently reserved exclusively for white College Professor Mary Fair Burks, with one of its primary objectives to Claudette was given a fine, and released on probation to her parents.
passengers. The middle seats were to be on a first-come-first-served fight institutionalized racism in Montgomery. From 1950 onwards, under The lynching of 14 year old school boy Emmett Till at Money,
basis and the rear seats were for African American passengers. In the leadership of president Jo Ann Robinson, the focus was to shift to the Mississippi in August 1955 evoked a huge response throughout the
addition African American passengers had to pay their fare to the reform and ultimate desegregation of buses. The first African American nation and the African American community. Emmett who hailed from
driver at the front of the bus, exit again, and go to the entrance at the bus boycott of segregated city buses took place in Baton-Rouge, Chicago, Illinois, was in Money visiting relatives when he spoke to a
rear of the bus before they could finally take their seat. Louisiana, from 15 – 25 June 1953. The boycott was resolved on a local white woman Carolyn Bryant. This resulted in the abducting of
compromise which deemed that “the two side front seats of buses were Emmett by the woman’s husband Ray Bryant and his brother-in-law
Bus drivers at the time had the right to instruct passengers to move if to be reserved for whites and the long rear seat was for African J.W. Milam. Emmett’s body was to turn up in the Tallahatchie river
no seat was available for a white person. Fares were the same Americans. The remaining seats were to be occupied on a first-come-first three days following his abduction. Neither man was convicted of
-served basis.” (African American Registry, 2013). Emmett’s murder or abduction.

Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913, in James F. Blake was the bus driver that day. Blake had been involved in a Blake asked, “Are you going to stand up?”
Tuskegee, Alabama. Her ancestral heritage included Irish-Scottish previous incident with Rosa 13 years earlier in 1943, when he had Parks replied, “No. … because I got on first and paid the same fare, and
lineage. Her early years were marked by experiences of institutional thrown her off the bus in the rain for entering through the front doors of I didn’t think it was right for me to have to stand so someone else who
and communal segregation. the bus. got on later could sit down.”
Blake “Well I’m going to have you arrested.”
“The bus was a special symbol of inequality for Rosa. When Rosa was a The bus filled up as it passed along its route. When it reached the point Parks stated the immortal lines “You may do that.”
child, she had watched white children riding a bus to their school while where three white passengers were standing the Bus driver went to the
she and her classmates had to walk to school.” (http:// rear of the bus and told the 4 black passengers to give up their seats for For refusing to obey the orders of the bus driver and not giving up her the white passengers. seat when instructed, Rosa was arrested under Montgomery’s city
ordinance for the separation of races code. Police officers F.B. Day and
In 1943 Rosa joined the National Association for the Advancement of Under the threat of arrest the male and two female passengers got up D.W. Mixon boarded the bus. On asking why the police were enforcing
Colored People (NAACP) serving as the chapter's youth leader as well and moved but Rosa moved into the window seat and refused to move. such unequal regulations the Officer responded:
as secretary to Montgomery NAACP President Edgar Daniel (E.D.) In her biography Rosa makes the point “People always say that I didn’t “I don’t know, but the law’s the law, and you’re under arrest”.
Nixon, a position she held until 1957. Rosa was a keen civil rights give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired
advocate. On 1st December 1955, at around 6pm, Rosa took the physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working
Cleveland Avenue bus as normal following her days work at the day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being
Montgomery Fair Department Store in Downtown. Having paid her old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in. I
fare of 10 cent to the driver, she got on at the back of the bus and sat knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to
in the row of seats directly behind the ten seats reserved for whites move. Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it.” (R.
only. Parks, 1992, p. 116).

Rosa Parks arrest for disobeying the driver’s instruction and refusing to Dr Martin Luther King Jr who had been installed as minister of Dexter despite the fact that Montgomery City Line were making huge losses
give up her seat for a white passenger set in motion a rapid chain of Avenue Baptist Church on October 31, 1954 was elected president of the and the buses were virtually empty throughout the boycott. This was
events. Rosa’s respected personal character and position within the MIA. His age, education, charisma and his non-Montgomery background based on their belief that the bus boycott would collapse as the
Montgomery chapter of the NAACP meant that news of her arrest made him the ideal candidate. At Court, Rosa Parks was “convicted of African American community were not capable of coordinating or
travelled quickly. E.D. Nixon the former head of the Montgomery violating the segregation law and fined $14 … Fred Gray, appealed the sustaining a long-term protest campaign. Instead they issued a
chapter of the NAACP, and for whom Rosa had been secretary for ruling” (Encyclopaedia of Alabama, 2012). decree outlawing the black taxi cabs and on February 21, Dr Martin
many years arranged for her bail and obtained her release. Rosa was Luther King, Jr. and “88 fellow African-Americans [were] indicted by
listed to appear in Court the following Monday December 5, where On the evening of December 5, a mass meeting was arranged at Holt a grand jury for violating Alabama's anti-boycott law” (Martin Luther
she expected to be fined, but Nixon saw her case as an opportunity to Street Baptist Church, which was attended by thousands of people to King, Jr., Research & Education Institute, n.d.). The anti-boycott law
challenge the City’s official segregation laws. Nixon immediately decide the future of the boycott. Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Minister prohibited boycotts without a legal basis. These tactics would
contacted Rev Ralph Abernathy of the First Baptist Church in Ralph D. Abernathy called for the boycott to continue and made three ultimately prove unsuccessful.
Montgomery and following a discussion they both agreed to the merit demands to Montgomery’s white bus company and city officials “(1)
of organizing a one day boycott of the buses on the day Rosa was due Courteous treatment on the buses; (2) First-come, first-served seating, The MIA put in place an organized “system of car pools ...
to appear in Court. with whites in the front and blacks in the back; (3) Hiring of black drivers [establishing] pick-up and drop-off points throughout the black
for the black bus routes” (Alabama Department of Archives and History, community, using church station wagons” (Alabama Department of
At the same time the Women’s Political Council under the leadership n.d.). Archives and History, n.d). The leaders of the MIA and car pool
of Jo Ann Robinson, were preparing a boycott of the Montgomery drivers were also subject to harassment by the police. On January
buses and had enlisted the support of attorney Fred Grey who in turn During the boycott rather than taking the segregated city buses, African 26, 1956 “according to King, on this day and the previous two more
made contact with Montgomery's black ministers. Within 24 hours of Americans walked distances sometimes up to eight miles, and/or formed than one hundred traffic citations [were] issued to car pool
Rosa Parks’ arrest, the Women’s Political Council had distributed car pools to reach their destinations and continued their day-to-day drivers” (Martin Luther King, Jr., Research & Education Institute).
50,000 leaflets to Montgomery’s Black Community asking to ‘stay off living. Their determination to stick together, despite the discomfort and
all buses Monday’. The various ministries in Montgomery announced risk to personal safety, buoyed by the greater belief of ending segregated The unofficial segregationist response to the boycott included threats
the forthcoming boycott to their congregations on Sunday December buses was vital. The Ministry’s and congregations of Dexter Avenue of violence and sometimes extreme acts. On January 30 1956, Dr
4, and it was published in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper. Baptist Church, Holt Street Baptist Church and First Baptist Church Martin Luther King Jr’s house was firebombed by segregationists,
amongst others played a pivotal role in organising the boycott and while his wife Coretta and daughter Yolanda were home at the time
The December 5, boycott resulted in virtually all of Montgomery’s motivating the wider community to continue the struggle. In addition but nobody was injured. On February 1, 1956, Fred D. Gray and
approximate 40,000 African American citizens refusing to ride the city the Montgomery Improvements Association implemented a black taxi Charles D. Langford filed a Federal District Court lawsuit “against the
buses. This success was to ignite great confidence in the movement city's segregationist statute, charging that it violated the
amongst community leaders and led to the formation of the cabs system which charged reduced rates to ferry passengers to their constitutional rights of blacks” (Alabama Department of Archives and
Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) that same day. History, n.d.) on behalf of four female plaintiffs: Aurelia Browder,
destinations. City authorities refused to accede to the MIA demands, Claudette Colvin, Susan McDonald and Mary Louise Smith. This
case was to become known as Browder Vs Gayle. William
Armistead Gayle, Jr was the mayor of Montgomery at the time. On
that same evening E.D. Nixon’s house was firebombed.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

This little light of mine lyrics by Avis Burgeson Christiansen

On June 5, 1956 the United States District Court for the Middle District give up her bus seat to a white passenger, were to resonate March on Washington was for Civil Rights and economic equality
of Alabama ruled in the Browder v. Gayle case, that the Montgomery throughout the Southern states and across the globe. The civil rights for African Americans. In addition, it was intended to show
and Alabama state bus segregation laws were unconstitutional under anthem ‘This little light of mine’ was synonymous with the Civil Rights support for the recently initiated civil rights bill, and also raise
the equality protections enshrined in the 14th Amendment of the Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and is the theme of this exhibition. national awareness of civil rights issues in the South. Dr Martin
United States Constitution. The state of Alabama appealed the District Luther King Jr delivered his now famous “I Have a Dream” Speech.
Court’s decision and it was sent to the Supreme Court for final The legacy of the Montgomery bus boycott includes:
judgment. The boycotting of Montgomery’s buses continued - The initiation of a coordinated and unified civil rights movement based  Freedom summer project, 1964. Council of Federated
throughout this appeals process. on peaceful nonviolent resistance tactics, including boycotting, sit-ins Organizations (COFO), which coordinated civil rights events in
and marches. Mississippi, initiated a major voting registration campaign to
On November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court upheld the District Court’s  Dr Martin Luther King Jr moved to the centre of the movement. register African American voters and to set up schools in 1964.
decision in Browder v. Gayle which had found bus segregation on  1 February 1960, sit-ins began at the lunch counter inside the
municipal buses unconstitutional. On December 21, the Supreme  Civil rights act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on
Court’s ruling to desegregate the buses came into effect, ending a Woolworth store at 132 South Elm Street in Greensboro, North July 2, 1964, which prohibited discrimination in public places,
thirteen month bus boycott that displaced approximately 40,000 Carolina, protesting against racial segregation. ended the racial segregation of schools and other public facilities,
passengers per day in Montgomery. Finally Rosa Parks, Dr Martin  ‘Freedom Riders’ were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses and made employment discrimination illegal.
Luther King Jr, and the Montgomery African American population into the segregated southern United States in 1961.
could ride the buses again.  3rd April 1963, ‘Project C for confrontation’ began in Birmingham,  Voting rights act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on
Alabama. August 6, 1965, “aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and
The chain of events which were sparked on 1st December 1955, when  The March on Washington, August 28, 1963, attracted in excess of local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their
a courageous Rosa Parks shone a beacon of defiance by refusing to 200,000 black and white marchers. The primary purpose of the right to vote under the 15th Amendment (1870) to the
Constitution of the United States” (, 2015).

 Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United
States took place on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

The origins of the term ‘boycotting’ can be traced back to County with his tenants over rents as a test case “to gain the eyes and ears of eventually led him to selling his interest in the lands in 1886.
Mayo, Ireland and specifically to a land agent by the name of Captain the world” (History Publications Ltd, 2011).
Charles Cunningham Boycott (1832-1897). Captain Boycott was an Popular history has cast Boycott as a villain, characterised by “the
agent for the lands of John Crichton, 3rd Earl of Erne. “As Erne’s agent In September 1880, when Boycott served eviction notices to tenants who harshness with which he treated the poor tenants and others under his
he was the ‘boss of the boss’s orders’ and had a duty to collect the had defaulted on their rents, a campaign began locally whereby people charge [which] soon earned for him the hatred of all with whom he
rents from the other 35 tenants and generally look after the refused to work on his lands or in his house, and actively came in contact in the course of his duties” (Historicalballinrobe,
estate.” (History Publications Ltd, 2011). prevented others from doing so. The campaign of boycotting was 2011).
implemented so comprehensively throughout the local community that
There was an economic downturn in the late 1870s, which resulted in all businesses refused to supply him with goods and services. Recent research has found to the contrary, that prior to the eviction
rack-renting. This term was used to describe the exacting of excessive notices in 1880, “he had got on well with both his workers and the
or extortionate rent from a tenant and it led to mass evictions of This meant that Boycott was unable to harvest the crops from his land. local people” (History Publications Ltd, 2011). Whatever the truth, the
tenants who were unable to pay their rents throughout Ireland. The ensuing publicity around the boycott led to the founding of the success of the boycotting campaign in Mayo was to lead to its
Coming so soon after the Great Irish famine (1845-1849), these Boycott Relief Fund in Belfast in November 1880. Resulting in the implementation throughout Ireland, and Boycott became a legendary
measures were to invoke strong emotions and opposition from the arrival in County Mayo of a group of 50 Orangemen volunteers from figure for resistance campaigns.
native Irish, resulting in a wider campaign of agitation known as the Ulster known as the ‘Boycott relief expedition’, arrived to help the
Land War. beleaguered Captain Boycott.

The campaign was instigated by a group known as the Land League. The ‘Boycott relief expedition’ proved to be a costly failure and the
Liam Ó Raghallaigh, a local Mayo historian, describes how peaceful resistance campaign and subsequent ostracism of Boycott
circumstances seemed to have cast Captain Boycott’s land dispute

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