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Bijan C. Bayne @bijancbayne
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The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the most unanimous human civic effort in history, but it's taught to schoolchildren Santa Clausized & sanitized. Rosa Parks was secretary of the Montgomery NAACP 12 years before the boycott. Not an admin- "Secretary", like Medgar Evers in Jackson
She married an NAACP member 11 years before she became branch secretary. For a time she was activist Virginia Durr's seamstress. But although she was hand picked, that was because 15 year old Claudette Colvin had refused to give up her seat- but was pregnant
Colvin did not become the test case against Jim Crow public transportation in Montgomery because local activists felt an expectant teen mom wasn't exemplary. Parks trained in nonviolence at Tenn's Highlander Folk School. She was no rando tired seamstress.
Communities are highly organized & mobilized. They do not select randos. They select the unblemished (because arrest is pending, & prob. unemployment). The inhumanity of the bus system is not taught to U.S. youth
In Montgomery in December of 1955, a Negro boarded the bus via the front door, paid, then boarded through the rear. If colored were seated on the last row of white seats, & a white passenger wanted a seat, not just one, but everyone in that row had to get up. Because of the one.
Sometimes when the Negro would pay their fare in the front, the driver would pull away before they could board the back. Folk who rode the same line daily knew their faces. A man was doing this to Parks. She sat in the first row of the colored section Dec. 1, 1955. The white full
A white male boarded. He only had a couple stops to go. He was fine standing, but the driver walked back & asked RP to make it light on herself. She was only 42. Nikki Haley is 46. Gwen Stefani is 49. Parks had been thinking abt the murder of Emmett Till, & image of open casket
Three colored moved (everyone on the row has to move if there is a white passenger unable to find seating in the white). Parks refused. "I thought of Emmett Till and I just couldn't go back." She didn't recognize driver Blake, who once left her in the rain though she'd paid fare
Blake called the police. Now we have what the city deemed an ideal arrestee to protest the segregated public transit. Local NAACP Pres. E.D. Nixon, after a small mtg. (no MLK, Jr), printed up 35,000 flyers overnight, announcing a citywide action.
Negroes used cars, colored cab companies, & their feet. Some walked as far as 20 miles to work (tons of the work menial or housekeeping). The city had 40,000 Negro commuters. Xmas was 20 days away. Peak retail. Downtown
Rev. Ralph David Abernathy suggested the name "Montgomery Improvement Association". A newcomer was elected their president. He was 26. He is the only U.S. citizen not a president, whose birthday is a federal holiday. He expected 60% participation. It is estimated 90-100% did
They did not ride for 381 days. Dozens of public buses stood idle for months, crippling transit company financially. The city changed the ridership law, after SCOTUS ruled it unconstitutional. Took tons of organization f/ ppl to arrive @ work punctually during. & to get back home
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