Early Southern Campaigns Montgomery Bus Boycott and Browder V Gayle (1956)

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Early Southern Campaigns, 1955-62
Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-1956
Montgomery is in Alabama- a Southern state with widespread segregation
· Buses had first few rows for whites and the back for blacks.
· If the bus was full, black people were expected to stand up so white people could sit down.
Dec 1st 1955
· Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white man- she was arrested and fined $14
· A two pronged attack on Alabama segregation laws was established
1. NAACP mounted a legal case to challenge segregation laws
2. Black people of Montgomery began a campaign of direct action targeting local bus
What happened in the boycott?
· It was non-violent ­ worked through black churches & tied in with MLK's philosophy.
· Its aim was to coordinate a boycott of Montgomery buses until segregation was abolished.
· The MIA was established under MLK.
· It began the day after Parks was fined- shows the quickness and efficiency of the activists
· Lasted over a year
· 85% of Montgomery's black community boycotted the buses
· Bus companies lost 65% of their income as the majority of customers of the buses
(poorer people) were black
· MLK and 156 protestors arrested, which drew media attention to the unfairness of the
situation, as the protest was peaceful.
Browder vs. Gayle 1956
The main item which changed segregation laws- not bus boycott alone.
· Aurelia Browder was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person in 1955
· She appealed and the case made it to the Supreme Court
· This, along with the impact of the bus boycotts, enforced the Supreme Court to change
the law
· 20th Dec 1956= the court outlawed segregation of buses
The significance of the Montgomery Campaign
· Economic power of blacks was displayed ­ black passengers were therefore important to
the bus industry
· MLK's leadership skills shown and he was brought to national attention as a figurehead
· The establishment of SCLC by King resulted in him hoping that the group would have the
same momentum as the Bus Boycott
· It showed the lengths of white opposition to defend segregation
· The Supreme Court were shown as willing to overthrow Plessy vs. Ferguson (segregation
was ok, as long as black and whites had equal facilities)
· Importance of the media was highlighted- segregation was displayed to a national and
international level
· Demonstrated power of uniting popular direct action with a NAACP legal campaign


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