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Rosa Parks

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 11 months ago


Rosa Parks & The Montgomery Bus Boycott



 In the history of the Civil Rights movement, Rosa Parks can be seen as the starting point for the progression of anti-segregation that lead up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rosa parks said, “the only tired I was, was tired of giving in” (Collier 61). She had refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man and she was arrested for it. When she was arrested as she explained in her story, “They did not put their hands on me or force me into the car” (Collier 62). The police did not beat Rosa Parks or be aggressive towards her; they simply put her in the car and took her to jail. She was being arrested for breaking the law. She broke had broken the segregation laws.

After Rosa parks was released from jail she was given a trial date and sent on her way. Edgar Nixon, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, asked Rosa if she would be willing to make her case a test case against segregation. She supported the decision and the case went to trial.


Rosa Parks being arrested and going to jail was what started the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Women Political Council decided to organize a boycott of the buses starting on the 5th of December 1955. The Council ran off 35,000 handbills and they were taken to all the black schools so they could be taken home to the parents. The handbills told of what had happened to Rosa Parks and asked for everyone to stay off the buses for that Monday of the 5th. Along with the handbills, through Edgar Nixon who contacted Reverend Ralph David Abernathy of the First Baptist Church’s to organize black ministers to mobilize the community. They thought that the ministers would be able to do this better than anyone else.


All of the eighteen black cab companies in town had agreed to help out with the boycott. They would stop at all the bus stops and only charge ten cents for a ride, the same as the bus fair. On Monday morning the black community stood at the bus stops to ride with cab companies, caught rides with people who owned automobile’s, or walked to work. Not every black person stayed off the buses. Some did not want to be inconvenienced or they did not know about the boycott. “Never before had black people demonstrated so clearly how much those city buses depended on their business. More important, never before had the black community of Montgomery united in protest against segregation on the buses” (Collier 68).


On that same Monday Rosa Parks went to the courthouse for her trial. Her lawyers Charles Langford and Fred Gray had entered a plea of “Not Guilty” for her. They were not planning on winning the case for her. They actually wanted her to be found guilty so they could appeal her case and take it to a higher court. In the higher court system they could get the segregation laws changed. Rosa Parks was found guilty and given a suspended sentence, with a $10.00 fine and a $4.00 court cost.


Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and other ministers decided to form the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). They did not want to leave the organizing to an established organization like the NAACP. The NAACP was a weak organization in Alabama and was it was hard to get people to join. They also did not want this demonstration to be held on account of outside protester. When they decided that they should elect a president for the MIA they elected a new Reverend to Montgomery, Martin Luther King, Jr They figured that since he was new to the area he would be a good choice since he had not made strong enemies or friends. That night they had a meeting at the Holt Street Church, a church in the heart of the black community. They had so many people show up that they had to set up a loudspeaker outside so all the hundreds of people standing outside the church could hear. The agenda of this meeting was to see if the community should continue the boycott.  The MIA had a list of demands to present to the bus company and to the city’s white leaders. “There were three demands: (1) courteous treatment on the buses; (2) first-come, first served seating, with whites in front and blacks in back; (3) hiring of black drivers for the black bus routes” (Collier 70). They took a vote and it was unanimous that the boycott would proceed.


Many people lost their jobs as a result of the boycott. The black cab owners were threatened by the police to charge the standard fair price of forty-five cents instead of the ten cents they were charging. Eventually the police started arresting the black cab drivers. The MIA asked the community for volunteer drivers. The church gathered money and started buying station wagons. “After a while a sophisticated system was developed. There were twenty private cars and fourteen station wagons. There were thirty-two pickup and transfer sites, and scheduled service from five thirty in the morning until twelve-thirty at night at night. About 30,000 people were transported to and from work every day” (Collier 72).


On November 13, 1956 the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to segregate the Montgomery busses.  The black community stayed of the buses until December 20, 1956 when the written order arrived. The Montgomery bus Boycott lasted more than a year

For more information on Rosa Parks go to www.rosaparks.org



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