Montgomery Bus Boycotts

What is a 'bus boycott'?

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which African Americans refused to ride city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest segregated seating, took place from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956, and is regarded as the first large-scale demonstration against segregation in the U.S.

On December 1, 1955, four days before the boycott began, Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, refused to yield her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus. She was arrested and fined. The boycott of public buses by blacks in Montgomery began on the day of Parks’ court hearing and lasted 381 days.

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ordered Montgomery to integrate its bus system, and one of the 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.

Image Source: http://www.wesleyan.edu/mlk/posters/rosaparks.html

Rosa Parks

- Her Amazing Story -

Image Source: http://www.chicagonow.com/quark-in-the-road/2014/02/rosa-parks-black-history-in-transit-or-the-fare-lady-of-civil-rights/

On December 1, 1955, after a long day's work at a Montgomery department store, where she worked as a seamstress, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus for home. She took a seat in the first of several rows designated for "colored" passengers. Though the city's bus ordinance did give drivers the authority to assign seats, it didn't specifically give them the authority to demand a passenger to give up a seat to anyone (regardless of color). However, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the custom of requiring black passengers to give up their seats to white passengers, when no other seats were available.

If the black passenger protested, the bus driver had the authority to refuse service and could call the police to have them removed.

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.

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Internet Sources:

Information & Facts: http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/montgomery-bus-boycott

Rosa Parks Information: http://www.biography.com/people/rosa-parks-9433715#ordered-to-the-back-of-the-bus

Rosa Parks Picture: http://www.chicagonow.com/quark-in-the-road/2014/02/rosa-parks-black-history-in-transit-or-the-fare-lady-of-civil-rights/

Montgomery Bus Boycott Picture: http://www.wesleyan.edu/mlk/posters/rosaparks.html