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The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1956

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2 The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1956

3 The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1956
Key issue- Segregation on public transport. Black Americans had to follow the instructions of the white drivers. Black Americans had to fill the bus from the back. The front of the bus was reserved for white passengers only. Black Americans could not sit next to white Americans, even if there was a vacant seat. The black Americans would have to stand. If a white person boarded the bus and all the white seats were taken then a black passenger would have to vacate their seat.

4 Unfortunately Claudette fell pregnant and was also unmarried
Unfortunately Claudette fell pregnant and was also unmarried. The NAACP therefore decided not to use Claudette Colvin as they felt that this would place her under undue stress. It was also considered that it may then be seized upon by the white prosecutors as an example of being immoral (having a child out of wedlock). March 1955, Claudette Colvin a young black American was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person. The NAACP in Montgomery had been considering challenging segregation on buses for some time, but required a strong case in which to do this. The NAACP decided to wait to fight a stronger case.

5 The NAACP didn’t have to wait for long to find a stronger case in which to fight.
In December 1955, Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat on a bus. The police were called, Parks was arrested and was placed on trial. The situation had just escalated. Parks was a secretary for the local NAACP and immediately received their support along with other such as the Montgomery Women's Political Council. They were led by Jo Ann Robinson. They decided to hold a one say boycott of all on the day of Rosa Parks trial, around 70% of all passengers on the busses were black Americans. They posted leaflets to raise awareness.

6 Parks and the Montgomery Women's Political Council were supported by the Montgomery Improvement Association (led by a Baptist new to the county-Martin Luther King ). The demands that the MIA wanted were only mild at this point. They asked only that black Americans should be allowed to fill vacant white American seats rather than have to stand. It is estimated 20,000 people were involved in the one day boycott. 7,000 people turned up to a planned rally by MLK that evening in which he gave an inspirational speech, in which he called upon the protesters to use peaceful methods.

7 Parks was found guilty and fined $10 for the offence on the bus and a further $4 court costs.
Having refused to listen to the moderate demands of the MIA, they then decided to increase their demands to the full desegregation of Montgomery buses

8 How useful is this is assessing the impact of the Montgomery Bus Boycott?

9 The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1956
The boycott was extended. Black taxi drivers supported the campaign by only charging 10 cents per ride. The Montgomery authorities retaliated by insisting upon an obscure law that said that a minimum fair of 45 cents per ride had to be applied. This was too expensive for most black workers. Churches used funds to club together to buy cars in order to take people to work and car pooling schemes were created (car sharing). This was met with opposition as it resulted in crowds gathering at pick up points which allowed the police to disperse the crowds. The police also took the opportunity to charge the car poolers for minor parking violations. The Montgomery White Council was set up and had over 12,000 members. They were increasingly becoming more intimidating and threatening those who boycotted the busses. MLK had his house fire bombed whilst his wife and children were at home.

10 The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1956
As the boycott continued it was picked up by the national press. The MIA took the issue to the federal courts to challenge the decision, just like Brown V Topeka. The federal courts agreed that segregation was unconstitutional, but the Montgomery city officials appealed against the decision so it was sent to the Supreme court. The supreme court upheld the decision and the buses were desegregated. The boycott had lasted 381 days!

11 The Ku Klux Klan responded by sending car loads of people to intimidate the inhabitants of Montgomery, there were sniper attacks on the busses. Four churches were bombed and MLK house was again bombed.


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