Montgomery Bus Boycott

Photo of Rosa Parks Trial

On Thursday, December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man. In response, the Women's Political Council distributed fliers throughout the community urging African-Americans to boycott the bus line on the day of Mrs. Parks's trial. The following Monday Mrs. Parks was found guilty of disorderly conduct and fined. It was on this day in the afternoon at Mt. Zion A.M.E. Zion Church that a meeting was held, it was at this meeting that the Montgomery Improvement Association was formed and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., selected as the new organization's president.

That evening a meeting was held at the Holt Street Baptist Church at which it was decided that continuing the bus boycott would be an effective way to protest the segregated bus service.

In terms of participation, the bus boycott was an immediate success. Virtually all of the African-Americans who formerly patronized the bus service now walked, arranged carpools or found other means of transportation. Despite the strong participation in the boycott and the financial hardship experienced by the bus company, the laws were not changed. The Montgomery Improvement Association filed suit in federal court on behalf of those discriminated against by the bus service. On June 2, 1956, a federal court ruled for the Montgomery Improvement Association and declared segregated bus service to be unconstitutional. The ruling was appealed to the United States Supreme Court who, on November 13, 1956, upheld the lower court's findings. The boycott ended on December 20, 1956, 382 days after Mrs. Parks's conviction, when the court order requiring integrated bus service was served to Montgomery officials.

The Struggle

In the long struggle against segregation, there was only one "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement". In 1955, a 42-year-old African-American seamstress engaged in a simple act of civil disobedience that launched a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement. The seamstress was Mrs. Rosa Parks. The act of disobedience was refusing to yield her seat on a public bus to a white man. The pivotal event was the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her quiet courageous act changed America, its view of black people and redirected the course of history. Rosa Parks is a symbol to all Americans to remain free.

The Boycott

Photo of bus from Montgomery Bus Boycott

On December 5, 1955, four days after her arrest, Mrs. Parks was found guilty and the Montgomery Bus Boycott began. In response to her conviction, the African-American community in Montgomery boycotted the city bus line. Instead they walked or banded together to organize alternate transportation. The boycott continued strong until 381 days later when the United States Supreme Court ruled the segregation of bus service to be unconstitutional.

The Tribute

Photo inside Rosa Parks Museum

The Rosa Parks Library and Museum serves as an historical milestone to those who strive to understand the event that began the famous bus boycott. Where visitors used to stand and find only an historical marker and an abandoned building, they now will find a state-of-the-art interactive museum. They are able to see and hear about the past to help them better understand their own futures.

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