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Analyzing The Efficacy of The Bus Boycott in Montgomery, United States

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Causes and Effects of The Montgomery Bus Boycott

The role of black churches and community during the montgomery bus boycott, a study of the background of the montgomery bus boycott by bernard law as a way of resisting apartheid and racial bias in the united states, rosa parks and her role in the civil rights movement, get a personalized essay in under 3 hours.

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An Individual's Power to Change The Society: American Activists

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what was the montgomery bus boycott essay

Montgomery Bus Boycott

December 5, 1955 to December 20, 1956

Sparked by the arrest of Rosa  Parks  on 1 December 1955, the Montgomery bus boycott was a 13-month mass protest that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional. The  Montgomery Improvement Association  (MIA) coordinated the boycott, and its president, Martin Luther King, Jr., became a prominent civil rights leader as international attention focused on Montgomery. The bus boycott demonstrated the potential for nonviolent mass protest to successfully challenge racial segregation and served as an example for other southern campaigns that followed. In  Stride Toward Freedom , King’s 1958 memoir of the boycott, he declared the real meaning of the Montgomery bus boycott to be the power of a growing self-respect to animate the struggle for civil rights.

The roots of the bus boycott began years before the arrest of Rosa Parks. The  Women’s Political Council  (WPC), a group of black professionals founded in 1946, had already turned their attention to Jim Crow practices on the Montgomery city buses. In a meeting with Mayor W. A. Gayle in March 1954, the council's members outlined the changes they sought for Montgomery’s bus system: no one standing over empty seats; a decree that black individuals not be made to pay at the front of the bus and enter from the rear; and a policy that would require buses to stop at every corner in black residential areas, as they did in white communities. When the meeting failed to produce any meaningful change, WPC president Jo Ann  Robinson  reiterated the council’s requests in a 21 May letter to Mayor Gayle, telling him, “There has been talk from twenty-five or more local organizations of planning a city-wide boycott of buses” (“A Letter from the Women’s Political Council”).

A year after the WPC’s meeting with Mayor Gayle, a 15-year-old named Claudette Colvin was arrested for challenging segregation on a Montgomery bus. Seven months later, 18-year-old Mary Louise Smith was arrested for refusing to yield her seat to a white passenger. Neither arrest, however, mobilized Montgomery’s black community like that of Rosa Parks later that year.

King recalled in his memoir that “Mrs. Parks was ideal for the role assigned to her by history,” and because “her character was impeccable and her dedication deep-rooted” she was “one of the most respected people in the Negro community” (King, 44). Robinson and the WPC responded to Parks’ arrest by calling for a one-day protest of the city’s buses on 5 December 1955. Robinson prepared a series of leaflets at Alabama State College and organized groups to distribute them throughout the black community. Meanwhile, after securing bail for Parks with Clifford and Virginia  Durr , E. D.  Nixon , past leader of the Montgomery chapter of the  National Association for the Advancement of Colored People  (NAACP), began to call local black leaders, including Ralph  Abernathy  and King, to organize a planning meeting. On 2 December, black ministers and leaders met at  Dexter Avenue Baptist Church  and agreed to publicize the 5 December boycott. The planned protest received unexpected publicity in the weekend newspapers and in radio and television reports.

On 5 December, 90 percent of Montgomery’s black citizens stayed off the buses. That afternoon, the city’s ministers and leaders met to discuss the possibility of extending the boycott into a long-term campaign. During this meeting the MIA was formed, and King was elected president. Parks recalled: “The advantage of having Dr. King as president was that he was so new to Montgomery and to civil rights work that he hadn’t been there long enough to make any strong friends or enemies” (Parks, 136).

That evening, at a mass meeting at  Holt Street Baptist Church , the MIA voted to continue the boycott. King spoke to several thousand people at the meeting: “I want it to be known that we’re going to work with grim and bold determination to gain justice on the buses in this city. And we are not wrong.… If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong” ( Papers  3:73 ). After unsuccessful talks with city commissioners and bus company officials, on 8 December the MIA issued a formal list of demands: courteous treatment by bus operators; first-come, first-served seating for all, with blacks seating from the rear and whites from the front; and black bus operators on predominately black routes.

The demands were not met, and Montgomery’s black residents stayed off the buses through 1956, despite efforts by city officials and white citizens to defeat the boycott. After the city began to penalize black taxi drivers for aiding the boycotters, the MIA organized a carpool. Following the advice of T. J.  Jemison , who had organized a carpool during a 1953 bus boycott in Baton Rouge, the MIA developed an intricate carpool system of about 300 cars. Robert  Hughes  and others from the Alabama Council for Human Relations organized meetings between the MIA and city officials, but no agreements were reached.

In early 1956, the homes of King and E. D. Nixon were bombed. King was able to calm the crowd that gathered at his home by declaring: “Be calm as I and my family are. We are not hurt and remember that if anything happens to me, there will be others to take my place” ( Papers  3:115 ). City officials obtained injunctions against the boycott in February 1956, and indicted over 80 boycott leaders under a 1921 law prohibiting conspiracies that interfered with lawful business. King was tried and convicted on the charge and ordered to pay $500 or serve 386 days in jail in the case  State of Alabama v. M. L. King, Jr.  Despite this resistance, the boycott continued.

Although most of the publicity about the protest was centered on the actions of black ministers, women played crucial roles in the success of the boycott. Women such as Robinson, Johnnie  Carr , and Irene  West  sustained the MIA committees and volunteer networks. Mary Fair Burks of the WPC also attributed the success of the boycott to “the nameless cooks and maids who walked endless miles for a year to bring about the breach in the walls of segregation” (Burks, “Trailblazers,” 82). In his memoir, King quotes an elderly woman who proclaimed that she had joined the boycott not for her own benefit but for the good of her children and grandchildren (King, 78).

National coverage of the boycott and King’s trial resulted in support from people outside Montgomery. In early 1956 veteran pacifists Bayard  Rustin  and Glenn E.  Smiley  visited Montgomery and offered King advice on the application of Gandhian techniques and  nonviolence  to American race relations. Rustin, Ella  Baker , and Stanley  Levison  founded  In Friendship  to raise funds in the North for southern civil rights efforts, including the bus boycott. King absorbed ideas from these proponents of nonviolent direct action and crafted his own syntheses of Gandhian principles of nonviolence. He said: “Christ showed us the way, and Gandhi in India showed it could work” (Rowland, “2,500 Here Hail”). Other followers of Gandhian ideas such as Richard  Gregg , William Stuart  Nelson , and Homer  Jack  wrote the MIA offering support.

On 5 June 1956, the federal district court ruled in  Browder v. Gayle  that bus segregation was unconstitutional, and in November 1956 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed  Browder v. Gayle  and struck down laws requiring segregated seating on public buses. The court’s decision came the same day that King and the MIA were in circuit court challenging an injunction against the MIA carpools. Resolved not to end the boycott until the order to desegregate the buses actually arrived in Montgomery, the MIA operated without the carpool system for a month. The Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling, and on 20 December 1956 King called for the end of the boycott; the community agreed. The next morning, he boarded an integrated bus with Ralph Abernathy, E. D. Nixon, and Glenn Smiley. King said of the bus boycott: “We came to see that, in the long run, it is more honorable to walk in dignity than ride in humiliation. So … we decided to substitute tired feet for tired souls, and walk the streets of Montgomery” ( Papers  3:486 ). King’s role in the bus boycott garnered international attention, and the MIA’s tactics of combining mass nonviolent protest with Christian ethics became the model for challenging segregation in the South.

Joe Azbell, “Blast Rocks Residence of Bus Boycott Leader,” 31 January 1956, in  Papers  3:114–115 .

Baker to King, 24 February 1956, in  Papers  3:139 .

Burks, “Trailblazers: Women in the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” in  Women in the Civil Rights Movement , ed. Crawford et al., 1990.

“Don’t Ride the Bus,” 2 December 1955, in  Papers  3:67 .

U. J. Fields, Minutes of Montgomery Improvement Association Founding Meeting, 5 December 1955, in  Papers  3:68–70 .

Gregg to King, 2 April 1956, in  Papers  3:211–212 .

Indictment,  State of Alabama v. M. L. King, Jr., et al. , 21 February 1956, in  Papers  3:132–133 .

Introduction, in  Papers  3:3–7 ;  17–21 ;  29 .

Jack to King, 16 March 1956, in  Papers  3:178–179 .

Judgment and Sentence of the Court,  State of Alabama v. M. L. King, Jr. , 22 March 1956, in  Papers  3:197 .

King, Statement on Ending the Bus Boycott, 20 December 1956, in  Papers  3:485–487 .

King,  Stride Toward Freedom , 1958.

King, Testimony in  State of Alabama v. M. L. King, Jr. , 22 March 1956, in  Papers  3:183–196 .

King to the National City Lines, Inc., 8 December 1955, in  Papers  3:80–81 .

“A Letter from the Women’s Political Council to the Mayor of Montgomery, Alabama,” in  Eyes on the Prize , ed. Carson et al., 1991.

MIA Mass Meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church, 5 December 1955, in  Papers  3:71–79 .

Nelson to King, 21 March 1956, in  Papers  3:182–183 .

Parks and Haskins,  Rosa Parks , 1992.

Robinson,  Montgomery Bus Boycott , 1987.

Stanley Rowland, Jr., “2,500 Here Hail Boycott Leader,”  New York Times , 26 March 1956.

Rustin to King, 23 December 1956, in  Papers  3:491–494 .

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Course: US history   >   Unit 8

  • Introduction to the Civil Rights Movement
  • African American veterans and the Civil Rights Movement
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
  • Emmett Till

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

  • "Massive Resistance" and the Little Rock Nine
  • The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • SNCC and CORE
  • Black Power
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks , a black seamstress, was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her bus seat so that white passengers could sit in it.
  • Rosa Parks’s arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott , during which the black citizens of Montgomery refused to ride the city’s buses in protest over the bus system’s policy of racial segregation. It was the first mass-action of the modern civil rights era, and served as an inspiration to other civil rights activists across the nation.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. , a Baptist minister who endorsed nonviolent civil disobedience, emerged as leader of the Boycott.
  • Following a November 1956 ruling by the Supreme Court that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional, the bus boycott ended successfully. It had lasted 381 days.

Rosa Parks’s arrest

Origins of the bus boycott, the boycott succeeds, what do you think, want to join the conversation.

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The History of Montgomery Bus Boycott


The Montgomery bus boycott was one of the earliest and most high-profile episodes in the history of black civil rights struggles. In the early 1950s, the civil rights movement was still relatively weak to oppose White America’s political and economic institutions. However, the segregation laws that continued to operate in the United States had risen the level of anger and discomfort within the African-American community. Even before the Rosa Parks incident, there were cases of disobedience to the norms established by law, but the offenders were either acquitted or, in most cases, forced to pay a fine.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old black seamstress at a Montgomery department store and an activist of the civil rights movement was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. In those years, black people were subjected to severe segregation in public transport. Sometimes, African-Americans paid the fare at the entrance and were then forced to get off the bus only to get on again from the back platform. Even though there were empty seats on the bus, they had to stand as these seats were reserved only for white people. Also, they were not allowed to sit in the first four seats. Additionally, if all the seats reserved for whites were already occupied, and new white passengers entered the bus, the blacks sitting in the unreserved seats had to get up and make way for them. In case they do not follow this rule, they were to be arrested. In most cases, black people obeyed this rule without objection, yet there were those who refused to submit to such humiliation from time to time.

In the same year of 1955, five women and two children, not counting male offenders, were arrested for disobeying segregation rules on buses, and one black citizen was shot dead by a driver. Black residents of Montgomery made up at least 70% of all passengers in the local bus fleet. The arrest of Rosa Parks was the catalyst that prompted the black population to protest. Ed Nixon, the head of the local sleeper union, called on the African-American community for a one-day boycott of city transport in protest. December the 5, the first day of the boycott, was quite a success: the city buses did not have a single black passenger.

On the same morning, Rosa Parks was fined fourteen dollars for refusing to comply with the state of Alabama’s segregation law on city buses. According to Martin Luther King, this was the first time a black community representative was tried for refusing to comply with the segregation law. Previously, in such cases, black people were either released or charged with disorderly conduct. Thus, the arrest and admission of guilt of Mrs. Parks had a double meaning. It was an incident that forced the African-American community to take action. Moreover, it was a test of the legitimacy of the segregation itself. On the same day, representatives of the black community decided to extend the boycott of the lines until complete victory. The ultimate goal was to achieve equal rights for all bus passengers regardless of their skin color.

The city authorities expressed no intention to cooperate with the protesters. On the contrary, they argued that the actions of King and his supporters violated state laws. In the meantime, local bus companies suffered from heavy financial losses. The movement faced severe resistance – in an attempt to encourage whites to use buses and resist boycotts, local authorities formed the White Citizens’ Council. While the number of Council members grew rapidly, white police officers fined hundreds of car drivers for minor traffic violations, and arrested black citizens on fictitious grounds. After the first month of the boycott, its organizers received hate letters and phone calls with threats of violence. The homes of Martin Luther King and E.D. Nixon were bombed.

The reaction of the racists and the political system only sparked the movement further. At first, the protesters in Montgomery did not seek to abolish the segregation at once: they only wanted to gain equal rights in public transport. However, their original intentions may have changed due to the fierce resilience from the authorities. One may argue that the Montgomery boycott has inspired community leaders to think bigger and work collectively towards the destruction of the segregation system for good.

The leaders of the movement used the Christian formula of love as the basis of the boycott tactics: “Love your enemies”. King believed that a Christian should never be reconciled with an unjust order, but his heart should not be hardened because violence cannot be eliminated by violence. Therefore, Christian love in the civil rights movement came to be seen as the equivalent of ahimsa in Gandhism. It was explained to the movement’s participants that despite the repressions, it is necessary to consistently and consciously follow the principle of gospel love for all, awakening it in their opponents’ hearts.

After six months of mass fighting, the US federal district court ruled that Alabama’s bus segregation law was unconstitutional. This decision was challenged, but each new judicial maneuver and each new attack by racists only strengthened African Americans’ determination to overcome their fears and increased the awareness of the joint power. Finally, after almost a year of struggle, in November 1956, the US Supreme Court upheld a decision to ban segregation on Alabama bus lines. Another month passed before the federal authorities forced the local government to abide by this decision.

As it was mentioned earlier, the Montgomery boycott was originally aimed at one form of segregation, rather than the entire system of “Jim Crow laws.” Nevertheless, when activists staged a boycott targeting private bus companies and won, their victory had ramifications far beyond one city’s bus system. It marked a historic turning point in the fight against segregation. Today, a similarly successful targeted boycott can once again help the oppressed gain confidence to struggle for fundamental change.

Legalized segregation, based on the ideology of white supremacy, was defeated by the civil rights movement, yet the institutionalized racism remained. The Black Lives Matter civil action’s growing support now shows promising potential for creating a strong mass movement against inequality. The Montgomery bus boycott has proved that society can achieve real change peacefully by establishing well-organized protests and movements that the authorities would not be able to ignore. Thus, the following two aspects can be distinguished: ideological and organizational. The movement must carry a resounding message that can attract supporters from different social backgrounds. At the same time, coordination and discipline play a key role in achieving the set demands. The Montgomery bus boycott had succeeded in both, and, therefore, it can be considered an outstanding historical example of a successful non-violent protest.

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what was the montgomery bus boycott essay

Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Rosa Parks sits outside. Martin Luther King Jr. sits in the background.

Written by: Stewart Burns, Union Institute & University

By the end of this section, you will:.

  • Explain how and why various groups responded to calls for the expansion of civil rights from 1960 to 1980

Suggested Sequencing

Use this narrative with the Jackie Robinson Narrative, The Little Rock Nine Narrative, The Murder of Emmett Till Narrative, and the Rosa Parks’s Account of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Radio Interview), April 1956 Primary Source to discuss the rise of the African American civil rights movement pre-1960.

Rosa Parks launched the Montgomery bus boycott when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. The boycott proved to be one of the pivotal moments of the emerging civil rights movement. For 13 months, starting in December 1955, the black citizens of Montgomery protested nonviolently with the goal of desegregating the city’s public buses. By November 1956, the Supreme Court had banned the segregated transportation legalized in 1896 by the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling. Montgomery’s boycott was not entirely spontaneous, and Rosa Parks and other activists had prepared to challenge segregation long in advance.

On December 1, 1955, a tired Rosa L. Parks left the department store where she worked as a tailor’s assistant and boarded a crowded city bus for the ride home. She sat down between the “whites only” section in the front and the “colored” section in the back. Black riders were to sit in this middle area only if the back was filled. When a white man boarded, the bus driver ordered four African American passengers to stand so the white passenger could sit. The other riders reluctantly got up, but Parks refused. She knew she was not violating the segregation law, because there were no vacant seats. The police nevertheless arrived and took her to jail.

Parks had not planned her protest, but she was a civil rights activist well trained in civil disobedience so she remained calm and resolute. Other African American women had challenged the community’s segregation statutes in the past several months, but her cup of forbearance had run over. “I had almost a life history of being rebellious against being mistreated because of my color,” Parks recalled. On this occasion more than others “I felt that I was not being treated right and that I had a right to retain the seat that I had taken.” She was fighting for her natural and constitutional rights when she protested against the treatment that stripped away her dignity. “When I had been pushed as far as I could stand to be pushed. I had decided that I would have to know once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen.” She was attempting to “bring about freedom from this kind of thing.”

Perhaps the incident was not as spontaneous as it appeared, however. Parks was an active participant in the civil rights movement for several years and had served as secretary of both the Montgomery and Alabama state NAACP. She founded the youth council of the local NAACP and trained the young people in civil rights activism. She had even discussed challenging the segregated bus system with the youth council before 15-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her seat the previous March. Ill treatment on segregated city buses had festered into the most acute problem in the black community in Montgomery. Segregated buses were part of a system that inflicted Jim Crow segregation upon African Americans.

In 1949, a group of professional black women and men had formed the Women’s Political Council (WPC) of Montgomery. They were dedicated to organizing African Americans to demand equality and civil rights by seeking to change Jim Crow segregation in public transportation. In May 1954, WPC president Jo Ann Robinson informed the mayor that African Americans in the city were considering launching a boycott.

The WPC converted abuse on buses into a glaring public issue, and the group collaborated with the NAACP and other civil rights organizations to challenge segregation there. Parks was bailed out of jail by local NAACP leader, E. D. Nixon, who was accompanied by two liberal whites, attorney Clifford Durr and his wife Virginia Foster Durr, leader of the anti-segregation Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF). Virginia Durr had become close friends with Parks. In fact, she helped fund Parks’s attendance at a workshop for two weeks on desegregating schools only a few months before.

The Durrs and Nixon had worked with Parks to plot a strategy for challenging the constitutionality of segregation on Montgomery buses. After Parks’s arrest, Robinson agreed with them and thought the time was ripe for the planned boycott. She worked with two of her students, staying up all night mimeographing flyers announcing a one-day bus boycott for Monday, December 5.

Because of ministers’ leadership in the vibrant African American churches in the city, Nixon called on the ministers to win their support for the boycott. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., a young and relatively unknown minister of the middle-class Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, was unsure about the timing but offered assistance. Baptist minister Ralph Abernathy eagerly supported the boycott.

On December 5, African Americans boycotted the buses. They walked to work, carpooled, and took taxis as a measure of solidarity. Parks was convicted of violating the segregation law and charged a $14 fine. Because of the success of the boycott, black leaders formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) to continue the protest and surprisingly elected Reverend King president.

Rosa Parks sits outside. Martin Luther King Jr. sits in the background.

Rosa Parks, with Martin Luther King Jr. in the background, is pictured here soon after the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

After earning his PhD at Boston University’s School of Theology, King had returned to the Deep South with his new bride, Coretta Scott, a college-educated, rural Alabama native. On the night of December 5, 1955, the 26-year-old pastor presided over the first MIA mass meeting, in a supercharged atmosphere of black spirituality. Participants felt the Holy Spirit was alive that night with a palpable power that transfixed. When King rose to speak, unscripted words burst out of him, a Lincoln-like synthesis of the rational and emotional, the secular and sacred. The congregants must protest, he said, because both their divinity and their democracy required it. They would be honored by future generations for their moral courage.

The participants wanted to continue the protest until their demands for fairer treatment were met as well as establishment of a first-come, first-served seating system that kept reserved sections. White leaders predicted that the boycott would soon come to an end because blacks would lose enthusiasm and accept the status quo. When blacks persisted, some of the whites in the community formed the White Citizens’ Council, an opposition movement committed to preserving white supremacy.

The bus boycott continued and was supported by almost all of Montgomery’s 42,000 black residents. The women of the MIA created a complex carpool system that got black citizens to work and school. By late December, city commissioners were concerned about the effects of the boycott on business and initiated talks to try to resolve the dispute. The bus company (which now supported integrated seating) feared it might go bankrupt and urged compromise. However, the commissioners refused to grant any concessions and the negotiations broke down over the next few weeks. The commissioners adopted a “get tough” policy when it became clear that the boycott would continue. Police harassed carpool drivers. They arrested and jailed King on a petty speeding charge when he was helping out one day. Angry whites tried to terrorize him and bombed his house with his wife and infant daughter inside, but no one was injured. Drawing from the Sermon on the Mount, the pastor persuaded an angry crowd to put their guns away and go home, preventing a bloody riot. Nixon’s home and Abernathy’s church were also bombed.

On January 30, MIA leaders challenged the constitutionality of bus segregation because the city refused their moderate demands. Civil rights attorney Fred Gray knew that a state case would be unproductive and filed a federal lawsuit. Meanwhile, city leaders went on the offensive and indicted nearly 100 boycott leaders, including King, on conspiracy charges. King’s trial and conviction in March 1956 elicited negative national publicity for the city on television and in newspapers. Sympathetic observers sent funds to Montgomery to support the movement.

In June 1956, the Montgomery federal court ruled in Browder v. Gayle that Alabama’s bus segregation laws violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equality and were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court upheld the decision in November. In the wake of the court victories, MIA members voted to end the boycott. Black citizens triumphantly rode desegregated Montgomery’s buses on December 21, 1956.

A diagram shows a simple, rectangular outline of the inside of a bus from above. Squares represent seats and circles with x's in the center represent people sitting in those seats, showing that all seats were occupied. Rosa Parks's seat is identified as five rows from the front on the right side next to a window. There is writing in the top-left corner of the paper that says Attached to Exhibit C 2/22/1956.

A diagram of the Montgomery bus where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat was used in court to ultimately strike down segregation on the city’s buses.

The Montgomery bus boycott made King a national civil rights leader and charismatic symbol of black equality. Other black ministers and activists like Abernathy, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Bayard Rustin, and Ella Baker also became prominent figures in the civil rights movement. The ministers formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to protest white supremacy and work for voting rights throughout the South, testifying to the importance of black churches and ministers as a vital element of the civil rights movement.

The Montgomery bus boycott paved the way for the civil rights movement to demand freedom and equality for African Americans and transformed American politics, culture, and society by helping create the strategies, support networks, leadership, vision, and spiritual direction of the movement. It demonstrated that ordinary African American citizens could band together at the local level to demand and win in their struggle for equal rights and dignity. The Montgomery experience laid the foundations for the next decade of a nonviolent direct-action movement for equal civil rights for African Americans.

Review Questions

1. All of the following are true of Rosa Parks except

  • she served as secretary of the Montgomery NAACP
  • she trained young people in civil rights activism
  • she unintentionally challenged the bus segregation laws of Montgomery
  • she was well-trained in civil disobedience

2. The initial demand of those who boycotted the Montgomery Bus System was for the city to

  • hire more black bus drivers in Montgomery
  • arrest abusive bus drivers
  • remove the city commissioners
  • modify Jim Crow laws in public transportation

3. The Montgomery Improvement Association was formed in 1955 primarily to

  • bring a quick end to the bus boycott
  • maintain segregationist policies on public buses
  • provide carpool assistance to the boycotters
  • organize the bus protest

4. As a result of the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott, Martin Luther King Jr. was

  • elected mayor of Montgomery
  • targeted as a terrorist and held in jail for the duration of the boycott
  • recognized as a new national voice for African American civil rights
  • made head pastor of his church

5. The Federal court case Browder v. Gayle established that

  • the principles in Brown v. Board of Education were also relevant in the Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • the Montgomery bus segregation laws were a violation of the constitutional guarantee of equality
  • the principles of Plessy v. Ferguson were similar to those in the Montgomery bus company
  • the conviction of Martin Luther King Jr. was unconstitutional

6. All the following resulted from the Montgomery bus boycott except

  • the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
  • the emergence of Martin Luther King Jr. as a national leader
  • the immediate end of Jim Crow laws in Alabama
  • negative national publicity for the city of Montgomery

Free Response Questions

  • Explain how the Montgomery Bus Boycott affected the civil rights movement.
  • Describe how the Montgomery Bus Boycott propelled Martin Luther King Jr. to national notice.

AP Practice Questions

what was the montgomery bus boycott essay

Rosa Parks being fingerprinted by Deputy Sheriff D. H. Lackey after her arrest in December 1955.

1. Which of the following had the most immediate impact on events in the photograph?

  • The integration of the U.S. military
  • The Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson
  • The Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education
  • The integration of Little Rock (AR) Central High School

2. The actions leading to the provided photograph were similar to those associated with

  • the labor movement in the 1920s
  • the women’s suffrage movement in the early twentieth century
  • the work of abolitionists in the 1850s
  • the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s

3. The situation depicted in the provided photograph contributed most directly to the

  • economic development of the South
  • growth of the suburbs
  • growth of the civil right movement
  • evolution of the anti-war movement

Primary Sources

Burns, Steward, ed. Daybreak of Freedom: The Montgomery Bus Boycott. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Garrow, David J, ed. Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It: The Memoir of Jo Ann Gibson Robinson . Nashville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1987.

Greenlee, Marcia M. “Interview with Rosa McCauley Parks.” August 22-23, 1978, Detroit. Cambridge, MA: Black Women Oral History Project, Harvard University. https://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:45175350$14i

Suggested Resources

Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 . New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.

Brinkley, Douglas. Rosa Parks . New York: Penguin, 2000.

Rosa Parks Museum, Montgomery, AL. www.troy.edu/rosaparks

Williams, Juan. Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 . New York: Penguin, 2013.

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The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a seminal event in the Civil Rights Movement where African Americans boycotted the city’s public transit to protest segregated seating. Essays could discuss the historical context, key figures like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., and the boycott’s impact on the civil rights movement. A vast selection of complimentary essay illustrations pertaining to Montgomery Bus Boycott you can find at Papersowl. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

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Known for changing the cause of history, these two women Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman would forever be mentioned because of their roles in Women Suffrage. Although both women came from different backgrounds and different time era, they influenced the Women Civil Right Movement. Harriet Tubman who is mostly known for being the Conductor of the Underground Railroad was born a slave on January 29, 1822, in Maryland. When she was five, she was rented out to a family who […]

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One of the most powerful and influential leaders of the world was Martin Luther King Jr. He was a successful leader for he inspired and motivated others to reach the goal of eliminating discrimination of African Americans. Martin Luther King Jr. holds many remarkable accomplishments. He helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 that lasted for 385 days, which resulted in the US Supreme Court decision that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional. Martin Luther King Jr. also held […]

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