On 1 December 1955 a black woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a full Montgomery bus. Bus company policy dictated that black passengers fill seats from the back and white passengers fill seats from the front. Where the sections met, blacks were expected to yield to whites. The racist atmosphere on buses was strengthened by the attitude of the all-white driving staff, which was known to harass black passengers verbally, and sometimes physically.
Parks was a seamstress for the Montgomery Fair department store and a member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), having served as its secretary in the 1940s. By her single unplanned act of defiance, she caused a chain of events that concluded with a United States Supreme Court decision prohibiting bus segregation and King's rise to national prominence.
The driver whom Parks defied had her arrested, and she was released on $100 bond. Her connections to the NAACP and the black community in general meant that the case attracted instant city-wide attention. She was arrested on a Thursday, and a group of community leaders met immediately and planned a boycott for the following Monday. Meanwhile, the NAACP lawyers took on her court case, optimistic that they could ride the issue to the Supreme Court, in light of their recent victory in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
The organizers of the boycott, who hailed from other black groups, such as the NAACP and the Women's Political Council, met in the basement of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, which King had offered for that purpose. The group drafted three demands for the bus company: that seating be available on a strictly first-come, first-served basis; that drivers conduct themselves with greater civility to black passengers; and that black drivers be hired for predominately black routes. There was no call to integrate seating. To secure these demands, no African Americans would ride the buses on Monday, 5 December.
And hardly any did; indeed, nearly 20,000 blacks supported the action, and because blacks constituted the majority of the bus system's customers, many buses drove around empty. Because of the black community's eagerness to comply with the boycott–and because of the bus company's refusal to capitulate- community leaders held a second meeting on the afternoon of the boycott to plan an extended protest. The group named itself the Montgomery Improvement Association, or MIA, and elected King its president. Though only twenty-six, he showed great promise as a leader, and was enough of a newcomer to stand outside old local political rivalries. From the beginning, and throughout the most trying, violent events of the lengthy boycott, King never failed to emphasize the protest's rootedness in Christian principles. Though they might be the victims of violence, black protestors would engage in no acts of violence themselves; they would "turn the other cheek." This set the tone for all of King's subsequent campaigns.
The boycott lasted a year, and changed the character of both King's life and the city of Montgomery. King became the target of numerous telephoned threats and a few actual acts of violence. His house was bombed; he was arrested under false pretenses; he was sued for various reasons; he became very well known.
by Aryn Moulton, Nicole Phillips, Sabrina Styza and Sandy Gonzales
In this web page we will be telling people about the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rosa Parks, a black woman, refused to give up her seat to a white man. This triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which ended bus segregation. This web page is to inform people about the events of the Bus Boycott. Below is a computer simulation to visually show and give an understanding of what happened in the Boycott. We all took John Zola's Protest and Reform History class. With this web page and simulation we would like to share what we have learned.
On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks, a 40 year old black seamstress, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on the bus. "...the only tired I was, was tired of giving in," says Rosa Parks. She was lso part of an organization, called the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.) The NAACP played a huge role in trying to stop segregation. The NAACP was looking for someone that would stand up to the court system in a test case. Before Rosa Parks was chosen for the test case, there were two women befor her that were arrested for not giving up their seats, and the NAACP tried to use them for a test case aswell. Neither of these women proved to be suitable candidates for the test case that would end segregation. The day Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat, the NAACP knew that she was the perfent test case.
After Rosa Parks was taken to jail and fingerprinted she was allowed one phone call, which she made to her Reverend, E.B Nixon. He was the president of the NAACP in Montgomery, Alabama. Nixon called the Washington D.C. NAACP, who decided that they needed to "move on it today. " The next calls were to Reverend A. Philip Randolph and Reverend Martin L. King. From there, they decided they were going to hold an eight o'clock meeting at the local Baptist church in Montgomery. That night, they agreed that they were going to start the protest on December 5, the day of Rosa Parks' trial. The next day, flyers were passed out to every black elementary, junior high, and high school in Montgomery, that announced a protest to be held December 5 in front of the court house. There were also signs posted on every bus stop, that read, "Don't ride the bus today, don't ride it for freedom." This was the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which effected U.S. history, and specifically rights for blacks, forever.
The protest challenged the policy of bus segregation. On the day of Rosa Parks trial almost the whole black community did not ride the busses at all. The protest really hurt the bus systems. More than 66% of the riders on the busses were blacks, therefore, most of the income for the bus company came from black riders. On the morning of December 5, when they stopped riding the busses, Coretta King looked out her window and yelled to her husband, Martin Luther King, that the busses were empty. They both knew that the Boycott was going to change the way blacks were treated.
The black community did not use violence to protest bus segregation, they used a non-violent protest. They simply stopped using the bus system to show that they weren't going to be treated unfairly, by the community , government and bus system. Every week the black community would meet at the First Baptist Church and have a meeting about the protest. These gatherings were the inspiration and the backbone of the Boycott.
The white community did not like the protest and tried to stop it many times. The black people would not fight back when white people would try to start a fight with them, and this was very powerful. When they would be car pooling to their destinations, cops would pull them over and say it was against the law to drive an un-authorized taxi. The K.K.K. would raid through the black neighborhoods and yell and humiliate the black community. In response, the blacks sat on their porches and all clapped together. The K.K.K. then turned to violence for intimidation. They bombed Martin Luther King Jr.'s and E.B. Nixon's house. Then, the police started arresting the blacks for no reason. However, this did not stop blacks from protesting. They remained non-violent and because of this method they won in the end.
After 381 days of boycotting the busses they went to the Supreme Court to prove that it was not legal to segregate blacks from whites on public transportation. Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to separate people based on their race. When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the blacks, they knew it was going to change their way of life. This victory inspired blacks to challenge other segregation issues all the way to the Supreme Court. This Boycott ended something horrible and started something wonderful. They really accomplished a lot. The proof of how things have changed is shown in the improved rights of black people today. They stopped segregation on busses, and it gave them a chance to stop segregation in other public establishments. The black community of Montgomery proved that having a non-violent protest can create positive change. They provided a starting point in the fight for racial equality.
Since our simulation contains videos, you can not run it online (for the time being). You need to have the AgentSheets application on your Mac and then download our project:
To begin the simulation, press the Run button at the top left hand side of the worksheet screen.
To add new agents in the simulation, select an agent from the Gallery, and then click on the worksheet screen where you'll find the "Pencil Tool" to click on, to draw the agent wherever you like.
To erase an agent, select the "Eraser Tool" and then click on the agent you want erased.
To stop the simulation, press the Stop button located to the left of the Run button.
1. Run the simulation once and see how it works before you manipulate it.
2. Pay close attention to the busses, bus stops and video clips, and their chronology.
Try removing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
3. Try removing Rosa Parks. What do you observe?
4. Take out the Church and see what changes.
The cop agents play the part of the policemen in history that arrested Rosa Parks for not standing up for a white man, on the bus, Thursday, December 1, 1955. Not only that, but the policemen also represent the many obstacles and the people who got in the way of the boycott. Many things were don to disterb the Boycott. Boycotters were arrested on the sidewalks for disterbing public areas, and the KKK, as well as other organizations were all trying to defeat the boycott. Thankfully none succeeded.
The bus stop agents explain themselves; they are the places where the bus stops. In more detail, the bus stop agents represent that after certain events people stoped riding the busses. The bus stops also play a significant role in history. More than 66% of the bus riders were black, yet there were very few bus stops in the black neighborhoods, while there was one on every corner in the white neighborhoods. Many black people had to walk miles to the nearest stop. This was one very significant sign of segregation and discrimination towards the black community.
There also were signs placed on the bus stops informing people of the boycott.
The bus driver agent plays the specific part of James Blake, the bus driver that got Rosa Parks arrested in 1955.
The car agents represent the many people who helped the boycott. Without the busses people had no way of getting around and many people had jobs, school, or some other place to be that was too far to walk to. Those with cars helped these people out. There was a variety of people car pooling. Whites, blacks, the old, the young, college students; everyone was helping.
The court house is where the boycott began. The day after Rosa Parks' arrest, flyers were handed out to every black school in Montgomery informing people to meet at the court house and protest Rosa Parks' arrest. On Monday December 5, 1955 the steps to the court house was filled with protesters. This was the day the black ans white people of Montgomery stopped riding the busses.
The same court house agent also represents the Supreme Court, where segregation on busses was ruled in violation of the constitution and was made illegal.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the young reverend that was asked to lead the bus boycott. He truly set the tone of non-violent resistance. He rejected hate and violence, and embraced self-respect and love. His most powerful influence on this movement was as a result of the speeches he gave every week at the First Baptist Church. He inspired the African-American people to fight for their freedom in a way that didn't destroy the dignity and was carried out with justice and peace. The purpose of having him in our simulation is to symbolize his leadership and impact on the success of the boycott. The people of Montgomery were strong and determined to boycott the busses. Dr. King held their spirits up with his contagious enthusiasm, allowing them to stand together. From this, they were able to create a positive change in the way society treated them that would impact history.
Rosa Parks plays a big role in the boycott. She is the one who started the whole protest. It all started when Rosa Parks got on a public bus and headed home from work. Back then it was the law that any black person had to give up their seat for any white person that wanted to sit down. Not expecting to cause any trouble, Rosa was asked to move out of her seat and sit in the back of the bus. She refused to give up her seat and then later was arrested. Rosa Parks was part of an organized civil rights movement that was called the N.A.A.C.P. Four days after Rosa Parks was arrested, the group organized and announced the boycott that would last 381 days. The simulation shows how Rosa Parks was arrested by a policeman. Also, there is a video clip of Rosa in an interview explaining what happened when she refused to give up her seat.
The white people took a big part in causing the boycott to happen. It was the law that any black person had to give up their seat for a white person. Also, blacks had different schools, drinking fountains, and bathrooms from whites. In the simulation it shows how Rosa Parks gets on the bus, and the bus driver asks Rosa to give up her seat for a white man. She refuses and then is arrested for disobeying the law.
In the 50s, white people felt that having dark skin was morally wrong. They made it against the law for blacks to sit in the front kof the bus. For years blacks were trying to stop segregation. Different people attempted different methods to end the segregation. Nothing worked until Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. The NAACP, organized black people to boycott the busses. The blacks walked and arranged rides rather then ride the bus. The U.S Supreme Court then ended the bus segregation, which led to more protests to end other segregation between blacks and whites. In the simulation it shows how blacks are first getting on and off the busses. After Rosa Parks is arrested the blacks are shown at a church listening to Dr. Martin Luther King speak. During the boycott it shows more car pools involving blacks and fewer people riding the busses and more people walking. Then, after the boycott, there is a video of Dr. Martin Luther King sitting in the front of the bus while whites are sitting around him, showing that the boycott is over.
The busses were a main tool that started and ended the boycott. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus while heading home from work. It was known that more blacks than whites rode the busses before the boycott began. The Boycott got fewer people riding the busses, so they lost money and had to raise the bus fee. In the simulation it shows how the bus goes around a couple times and then picks up Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat and then is arrested. Then the bus has three major stops that all show a video of events that took place during the boycott.
The church was a place where the boycotters would meet and talk about the boycott. That was a place for Dr. Martin Luther King to speak his words of wisdom to the black community. It is shown on the simulation how the bus stops at the church after Rosa Parks is arrested. There is a video of Dr. Martin Luther King talking, and a large crowd appluading at him after he speaks.