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The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the first large-scale civil rights protest of African-Americans in the United States. They refused to ride city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest racial segregation. It happened from December 5, 1955, until December 20, 1956.
See the fact file below for more information on the Montgomery Bus Boycott or alternatively, you can download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Before the Montgomery Bus Boycott
- Before 1955, racial segregation was common in the southern states. African-Americans were labeled as blacks or colored, while Americans as whites. Race was determined by skin color as was their place in public spaces. Public schools, restrooms, restaurants, shops, buses, and trains were labeled as “for coloreds only” or
“for whites only.”
- In 1946, the Women’s Political Council (WPC) was established, challenging the Jim Crow policies over Montgomery city buses.
- By 1954, WPC had a meeting with the city Mayor requesting to void the city bus practices for black people. They aimed to lift segregation by letting black people buy bus tickets designated in the front and not only in the rear. In addition, no black should be standing in front of an empty seat. Their voices were not heard.
- Prior to Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith were arrested after challenging the bus system.
- On December 1, 1955, African-American seamstress Rosa Parks, seated in the first row of the colored section of a bus was arrested and fined $10 for refusing to move backward in order to give her seat to a white man.
- Rosa and her husband were members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) local chapter.
- As a response to Parks’ arrest, WPC began distributing leaflets calling all African-Americans to boycott city buses in Montgomery. Parks posted bailed and on December 2, black leaders including Martin Luther King, Jr. met at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church to discuss further action.
- NAACP and WPC decided to publicize the boycott that would be held on the 5th of December, four days after Parks’ arrest. It gained unexpected publicity in the media.
During the Boycott
- On December 5, 1955, almost 90% of the black community responded to the boycott. The Montgomery Improvement Association was established by Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prominent civil rights activist in the 1950s and 60s. He led the March on Washington where he delivered his famous speech “I Have A Dream.” King, Jr. met civil rights supporter, President John F. Kennedy, in 1963. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, following the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.
- During the mass meeting on the evening of the boycott, they decided to extend the protest. They attempted to talk with city commissioners and bus companies to voice their demands such as a first-come first-seated policy, courteous treatment of bus drivers, and hiring of black drivers. The negotiation was unsuccessful.
- In order to sustain the boycott, African-Americans rode bicycles, carpooled, and walked to work. Moreover, black taxi drivers lowered their rate to 10 cents, the same rate as city buses. In addition, regular mass meetings were held to mobilize African-Americans.
- Some white people were unhappy about the boycott. Protesters were even attacked in the streets. Black taxi drivers who lowered their fares were fined by the city.
- On June 5, 1956, a federal court in Montgomery ruled that any practices of racial segregation in city buses were against the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. That amendment following the end of the Civil War in 1868 states that all citizens regardless of race should receive equal rights and protection under state and
- After an appeal by the city, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision and on December 20, 1956, racial segregation was declared unconstitutional.
- On December 21, 1956, after 381 days of boycott, Montgomery buses were integrated.
After The Boycott:
- White people resisted the integration and bus stops in Montgomery remained segregated.
- In 1957, the white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan bombed black churches and the home of Martin Luther King, Jr. Furthermore, one of the infamous cases against the Ku Klux
- Klan happened in 1967, when they bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, wherein four little girls were killed.
- The boycott ignited a series of civil rights protests by African-Americans in the United States. It also gave the spotlight to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead national-scale protests and inspire international observers.
- In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed, enabling African-American participation in politics.
- Rosa Parks continued to be a figure in the civil rights movement in the United States. In 1992, she wrote her autobiography entitled Rosa Parks: My Story.
- Parks was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom for being a figure of freedom and equality.
- The actual bus where Rosa Parks sat can be seen at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.
Montgomery Bus Boycott Worksheets
This bundle includes 11 ready-to-use Montgomery Bus Boycott worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about The Montgomery Bus Boycott which was the first large-scale civil rights protest of African-Americans in the United States.
This download includes the following worksheets:
- Montgomery Bus Boycott Facts
- The Story of Rosa Parks
- King, Jr. and Other Civil Rights Activists
- Cause and Effect
- Trailing Timeline
- Ain’t Gonna Ride
- All About Montgomery
- The 14th Amendment
- Photo Bus
- Montgomery Bus Boycott Crossword
- Women in Black History
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Link will appear as Montgomery Bus Boycott Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 27, 2022
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