Montgomery Bus Boycott

  • The Women's Political Council (WPC) was Established

    The WPC of Montgomery, Alabama was founded by professor Mary Fair Burks. The Council was a political organization that provided leadership opportunities for women.
  • Women's Political Council Purpose

    Burks created a community organization that would teach local African Americans their constitutional rights and stimulate voter registration among them. Burks brought in 40 women to be a part of the council which focused their efforts on political actions such as education and protest of segregated services.
  • Jo Ann Gibson Robinson

    Jo Ann Gibson Robinson becomes president of the WPC. The WPC becomes one of the most active civil rights organizations in Montgomery and they begin to intensify their focus on bus reforms.
  • WPC on Bus Reform

    In 1954 the Women's Political Council met several times with city officials in an effort to achieve better bus service.
  • WPC's meeting with Mayor Gayle

    In March of 1954, the WPC met with Mayor Gayle to outline changes they sought out for Montgomery's bus system. The outline entailed no one standing over empty seats, 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. Sadly, the meeting failed to change anything that they outlined.
  • Jo Ann Robinson Reiterated the Council's Requests

    Jo Ann Robinson wrote a letter to Mayor Gayle after seeing no changes happen in Montgomery's bus services. In her letter, she told 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).
  • Claudette Colvins Arrest

    A 15-year-old named Claudette Colvin was arrested for challenging segregation on a Montgomery bus.
  • Mary Louise Smith's Arrest

    18-year-old Mary Louise Smith was arrested for refusing to yield her seat to a white passenger.
  • Rosa Parks Arrest

    On December 1, 1955, an African American seamstress Rosa Parks, was arrested and fined for refusing to yield her bus seat to a white man. She was seated in the front row of the "colored section." When the white seats filled, the bus driver asked Rosa Parks and three others to vacate their seats and she refused. Rosa Parks' arrest helped to spark the Montgomery bus boycott.
  • Bus Strike put in Action

    After Rosa Parks' arrest, the WPC decided to put its plans in action by initiating a bus strike. They announced December 5th as the day of the strike and religious leaders within the African American community agreed to support the boycott.
  • Securing Bail for Parks and Bus Strike

    Robinson prepared leaflets and organized groups to distribute them throughout the black community. Meanwhile, after securing bail for Parks, E. D. Nixon leader of the Montgomery chapter of (NAACP) National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, began to organize local black leaders to a planning meeting.
  • December 5th Boycott Publicity

    On December 2nd, black ministers and leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy met and agreed to publicize the December 5th boycott. The planned protest received publicity in the weekend newspapers, on the radio, and in television reports.
  • The December 5th Montgomery Bus Boycott

    On the morning of December 5th, the Montgomery buses were almost empty and 90 percent of Montgomery's black citizens stay off the buses that day.
  • Montgomery Improvement Association

    Later that afternoon religious leaders met and organized the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) electing Martin Luther King Jr. as their leader. Robinson served on the executive board of the MIA and edited its newspapers. In the meeting, the leaders discussed the possibility of extending the boycott into a long-term campaign.
  • Continuing the Boycott

    The MIA voted to continue the boycott and King spoke to thousands of people at the meeting. The MIA also issued a formal list of demands for the Montgomery bus services.
  • Organized Carpools

    The demands of the MIA were not met and Montgomery's black residents stayed off the buses through 1956. The MIA developed an intricate carpool of about 300 cars. Alabama Council of Human Relations met with the MIA but no agreements were reached.
  • Homes of King and E. D. Nixon were bombed

    King and Nixon's homes were bombed and city officials obtained injunctions against the boycott indicting over 80 boycott leaders under a 1921 law. King was tried and convicted in the case State of Alabama v. M. L. King Jr. but despite this resistance, the boycott continued.
  • Women's Role in the Boycott

    Although most of the publicity about the protest was centered around black ministers, women played crucial roles in the success of the boycott. Women such as Robinson, Johnnie Carr, and Irene West sustained the MIA committee and volunteer networks. Mary Fair Burks of the WPC also attributed to the success of the boycott.
  • Bus Segregation Became Unconstitutional

    King's trial resulted in support from people everywhere. On June 5th, 1956 the federal district court ruled in Browder v. Gayle that bus segregation was unconstitutional and struck down laws requiring segregated seating on public buses. The Montgomery bus boycott became a success and fueled more civil rights protests across the world.
  • WPC

    After the boycott, the older generation of the WPC agreed to continue working to improve the difficulties faced by African Americans in the South, while teaching women to work for racial justice as well. The early efforts of the WPC helped to fuel the Montgomery bus boycott and helped to create the MIA. The Montgomery bus boycott was the fuel that the world needed to fight for racial justice all across the United States.