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Parks, Rosa (1913–2005) and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Susan Love Brown


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Rosa Parks became a national symbol of the civil rights movement when on Thursday, December 1, 1955 she refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. Her subsequent arrest sparked the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which is widely considered to be the beginning of the modern civil rights movement. The boycott, originally meant to last only a day, continued for more than a year and resulted in a Supreme Court decision outlawing segregated seating on public buses. The segregated bus system had been a source of humiliation for the black citizens of Montgomery for some time. The Montgomery City Code, Section 10, “Separation of the Races -Required,” specified that the bus companies had to provide separate seating for blacks and whites. The exception was made for blacks who took care of white children or elderly white persons. Section 11 of the City Code also specified: “Any employee in charge of a bus operated in the city shall have the powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus.” In obedience to these laws, it was customary for black people to pay at the front of the bus, get off, walk to the back, and board from the back door. As white passengers boarded and filled up the front seats, if they filled the white section, the black passengers in the front of that section were expected to give up their seats and move ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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