In The 1950s, African Americans were forced to sit in the back half of the bus if the front half was full with whites. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, an African American, refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus. She was arrested and fined.
Parks has sometimes been depicted as a woman with no history of civil rights activism at the time of her arrest, she and her husband, Raymond , were, active in the local chapter of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (
), and Parks served as its secretary (Montgomery Bus Boycott). Upon her arrest, Parks called E.D. Nixon , a prominent black leader, who bailed her out of jail and determined she would be an upstanding and sympathetic plaintiff in a legal challenge of the segregation ordinance (Montgomery Bus
Boycott). AfricanAmerican leaders decided to attack the ordinance using other tactics as well.
The Women’s Political Council (WPC), a group of black women working for civil rights, began creating flyers calling for a boycott of the bus system to start on December 5, the day Parks would be tried in municipal court(Montgomery Bus Boycott). When the news of the boycott spread, AfricanAmerican leaders across Montgomery,
Alabamas capital city, lended their support. Ministers spread the word during church on sunday
December 4. The Montgomery Advertiser, a general interest newspaper, published a frontpage article on the planned boycott. Approximately 40,000 African American bus riders, most of the
city's African American riders, boycotted the the bus system the next day.
On the afternoon of
December 5, black leaders met to form the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA)
(Montgomery Bus Boycott). The group elected
Martin Luther King Jr. , the 26yearoldpastor of
Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, as its president, and decided to continue the boycott until the city met its demands (Montgomery Bus Boycott). At first, the demands was not to change the segregation laws, but demanded courtesy, the hiring of