The U.S. Postal Service 2013 Rosa Parks (Forever®) stamp honors the life of this extraordinary American activist who became an iconic figure in the civil rights movement.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott took place in Montgomery, Alabama starting on December 5, 1955 following the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to relinquish her bus seat. African Americans remained off the buses through December 20, 1956, the day the system abolished segregated seating.
Of course, since boycotts were illegal in Montgomery, the term was never used by the protesters. But no matter its name, city buses running practically devoid of black passengers for 381 days are credited with inspiring the Modern Civil Rights Movement and launching the leadership of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Some action against segregation had been in the works for some time before Parks' arrest, under the leadership of E. D. Nixon, president of the Montgomery Branch NAACP and the president of the local chapter of the Brother hood of Sleeping Car Porters. Nixon intended that her arrest be a test case to allow Montgomery's black citizens to challenge segregationnon the city's public buses.
With this goal, community leaders had been waiting for the right person to be arrested, a person who would anger the black community into action, who would agree to test the segregation laws in court, and who, most importantly, was "above reproach." Parks was a good candidate because of her employment and marital status, along with her good standing in the community.
Between Parks' arrest and trial, Nixon organized a meeting of local ministers at Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s church. Though Nixon could not attend the meeting because of his work schedule, he arranged that no election of a leader for the proposed boycott would take place until his return. When he returned, he selected Rev. King to lead the boycott. Nixon wanted King to lead the boycott because the young minister was new to Montgomery and the city fathers had not had time to intimidate him. At a subsequent, larger meeting of ministers, Nixon's strategy was threatened by the clergy's reluctance to support the campaign. Nixon pointed out that their poor congregations worked to put money into the collection plates so these ministers could live well, and when those congregations needed the clergy to stand up for them, those comfortable ministers refused to do so. Nixon threatened to reveal the ministers' cowardice to the Black community. Rev. King spoke up, denying he was afraid to support the boycott. King agreed to lead the MIA, and Nixon was elected its treasurer.
381 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story offers a gripping account of the men and women whose non-violent approach to political and social change matured into a weapon of equality for all. Based on an exhibition created by Troy University Rosa Parks Library and Museum and dedicated to the memory of Rosa Parks. 381 Days was made possible through the Smithsonian Institution.
The Struggle Continues-RLHSR.