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Essay: Montgomery Bus Boycott

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  • Subject area(s): History essays
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  • Published: 15 September 2019*
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  • Words: 1,076 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 5 (approx)
  • Tags: Martin Luther King Essays

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The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a protest against segregated seating in public city buses, given that black people only were allowed to sit in the rear of the bus. The boycott began because of Rosa Parks, an African-American woman who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery. She was arrested and fined. The boycott began on Rosa Parks’ court hearing and lasted over a year, where African Americans refused to ride city buses in Montgomery.

This topic is interesting because it was the first large-scale demonstration against racial segregation in America. Rosa parks made a huge difference with regards to segregation in the U.S, when she took part in beginning the civil rights movement. She became an icon for black people of resistance to segregation and today known as the mother of civil rights movement. The best part is that she was just a normal African-American woman on her way home from work, who stood up against the law and didn’t give up what she believed was her right.

Statement of purpose

I will explain how the society was divided in black and white people in the 1960’s in the U.S. I will explain what Rosa parks did on the bus in Montgomery and analyze why she did what she did and why people reacted as they did and began the Montgomery Bus Boycott. At last, I will evaluate the outcome of what she did and how it was the beginning of the civil rights movement.

Main points

Racial segregation

In the 1960’s people were separated based on color or race. Black people were only allowed to reside certain areas. They were separated from white people at institutions like schools, churches and facilities like parks, playgrounds, restaurants, and restrooms. When walking in the public there were several things only white people were allowed to use, things like water coolers, beaches, and theaters.

Rosa Parks breaks the law

In 1955, an African- American woman named Rosa Parks boarded a segregated bus in Montgomery to return home after a long day of work. At a stop on her way home, a white man boarded the bus and the bus driver ordered black passengers to stand so the white man could sit. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.

Rosa Parks knew who the bus driver was. He had over several years humiliated and threatened her and other black residents. She knew there had recently been several racial atrocities, which included mistreatment and death for not giving up one’s seat. So why did she do it anyways? She was tired of the civil rights legislation, it wasn’t fair. She was tired of the bus driver always after her and other black people, just because of their color. He knew he could order her to do anything and she had to do it, but it was enough for her. He wouldn’t be allowed to order her anything anymore, and when he ordered her to stand, she wouldn’t listen to him anymore and she sat down for what she believed was her right to do.

Rosa Parks was not the first African American to do what she did. Two other black women had previously been arrested on busses in Montgomery as considered breaking the law. So what was the huge difference when she did it? In contrast to these other women Rosa parks was seen as an ideal aspirant with strength and courage. Her arrest was the spark off a common and strong response that set off the Bus Boycott, as a young resident said, “city officials had messed with the wrong one now” .

Civil rights movement

Martin Luther King, Jr. became the boycott movement’s leader and spokesperson for black residents. He saw the importance of the boycott and the message they tried to bring out. He used the same nonviolent tactics as the Indian nationalist Mahatma Gandhi, as he thought it was the strongest weapon available to the black aspirants.  

The movement demonstrated the unity of black residents, inspired black people over the country and stimulated more non-violent protests in other cities. Several black people were tired of the laws and segregation, but many haven’t had the courage to act against/oppose the law. When the first protests started and they saw the unity and stubbornness among the black people more and more fell behind the organizations and movements. Martin Luther King, Jr and Rosa Parks were a huge ideal for black aspirants.

Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr were both members of the NAACP, but the Montgomery Bus Boycott led to the creation of a new regional organization in 1957. The clergy led Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Martin Luther King, Jr as its leader. The non-violent strategy was used in every protest. In 1963, SCLC began a campaign in Birmingham, were schoolchildren stood on one side and police with batter and police dogs on the other side. The confrontations became publicized and SCLC got northern sympathy, which caused President John F. Kennedy to push for a change of new civil rights.

Other protest passed similarly with Martin Luther King, Jr at the head of SCLC, like the march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery, were the protesters were attacked and the publication  brought civil right sympathizers to Selma. Aside from the SCLC protests, other little-known individuals launched other movements and organizations also using the nonviolent tactics. For an example, four students at North Carolina began a movement of sit-ins to end segregation at lunch counters. Protests like these spread rapidly throughout the south and led to new organizations against segregation.


In the USA in the 1950’s and 60’s people were clearly separated based on race or alleged race. Black and whites was divided at all public places. Black individuals protested against the segregation and broke the law by drinking water of an only white water cooler or sitting at an only white bench, but these who tried were mistreated or convicted to death. Then in 1955, a normal black woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man at a bus in Montgomery. Like the others she was arrested. But this time at her court hearing black people in Montgomery started protesting against segregated busses in Montgomery. They stood up together, made a boycott were they refused to use the busses in Montgomery.  

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