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Montgomery Bus Boycott

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political protest campaign in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama intended to oppose the city's policy of racial segregation on its public transit system.

The precipitating event for this action occurred on December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks disobeyed a bus driver's order to give up her seat favour of a white passenger. In Montgomery, Alabama, the dividing line between the front seats reserved for white passengers and the back ones reserved for black passengers was not fixed. When the front of the bus was full, black passengers sitting towards the front of the bus could be asked to surrender their seat. Rosa Parks' seat was in that border area. When Rosa Parks was arrested, the local civil rights organizations, of which Rosa was involved with, saw this as the ideal opportunity for political action.

In church meetings with the new minister in the city, Martin Luther King, the proposal of a city-wide boycott of the public transit as a protest for a fixed dividing line for the segegrated sections of the buses was proposed and passed.

The boycott proved to be extremely effective with so much of the blacks refusing to use the buses that the city's transit system was put under significant economic distress. To replace the buses, a system of car pools with volunteers with privately owned cars carried people to various destinations. Some white housewives also drove their black domestic servants to work, although it is argued in some cases whether the motivation was sympathy, or to have their staff in on time and fit for work. When the city pressured the local insurance companies to refuse and remove their policies from cars used in the carpools, the boycott leaders arranged policies with Lloyd's of London.

In response, opposing white citizens formed chapters of the White Citizens Councils. However, like the Ku Klux Klan, acts of violence were committed, such as when Martin Luther King's house was firebombed and boycotting citizens were physically attacked.

The city finally responded by arresting Martin Luther King for organizing the boycott. That move backfired by bringing national attention to the protest. Eventually, the United States Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision that Alabama's racial segregation laws for buses were unconstitutional, handing the protesters a clear victory.

Because of this protest, the US Civil Rights Movement[?] received one of its first victories and Martin Luther King got the national attention that would make one of the prime leaders of the cause.



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