Montgomery Bus Boycott

by admin - November 27th, 2017

By Jess Fournier

This image shows Rosa Parks on a bus in Montgomery on the day they were no longer segregated. Sitting behind her is a UPI reporter named Nicholas C. Criss, who was reporting on the major event.

The bus boycott that took place in Montgomery, Alabama is a very important and influential event of the civil rights movement. During this protest, African Americans refused to use the buses as transportation because of the segregated seating that required people of color to sit in the back, and whites to sit in the front. This protest was sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat to a white person. Rosa Parks is considered to be “widely respected, active in the church and in volunteer activities, Parks was an ideal person to serve as a rallying point for a protest” (Dunar 214). Through African American churches and headlines of newspapers in Montgomery, the word quickly got out about the boycott. This website explains that about 40,000 African American riders ditched the buses on December 5, 1955 and began walking, no matter how far away their destination was. There also was carpools and taxis made available to help keep the boycott a success. That same day, Martin Luther King Jr. was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), and it was decided that they continue on with the boycott. They would not stop until these following conditions were met: “courteous treatment on the buses, black bus drivers on routes that served the black community, and first come, first served seating on the bus. In the making last demand, they also agreed that African Americans would first take seats in the back of the bus, and move forward as the bus filled” (Dunar 216). Which was at first a thriving company, the buses in Montgomery lost 750,000 dollars in fares due to this protest. Bus officials would say, “unless the fares were doubled, ‘we just can’t live.’ City commissioners agreed, and fares were increased from ten to fifteen cents. Transfers, formerly free, would now carry a five-cent charge, and the fare for school children increased from five to eight cents” (McGhee). The company also had problems with communication when attempting to get riders back on the buses. Many of the drivers often said their “hands were tied”, considering they had no power over the city and state laws that implemented segregation onto their buses, making it impossible to come up with a feasible solution. In addition to the bus companies, the shopping centers downtown suffered as well since this large part of the town’s population no longer had easy transportation to get there to shop. Finally, on Monday, April 24, 1956, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that segregation of races on buses is unconstitutional, forcing the buses to discontinue their practice of segregation. Despite this decision, the bus lines still continued to struggle with new troubles. For example, “A few days after the buses were integrated, a fifteen-year-old black girl was beaten at a bus stop by a group of white males. Also in the days immediately following, five buses were fired upon by whites and at least one person was injured” (McGhee). Though the boycott had ended, its impacts were long lasting on the civil rights movement.

Works Cited

Dunar, Andrew J. America in the Fifties. Syracuse University Press, 2006. Staff. “Montgomery Bus Boycott.”, A&E Television Networks, 2010,

McGhee, Felicia. “The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Fall of the Montgomery City Lines.” Alabama Review 68.3 (2015): 251-68. ProQuest. Web. 24 Nov. 2017

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