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Montgomery Bus Boycott

What caused the Montgomery bus boycott?

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April 26, 2012 3:40PM

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Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955, for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Ms. Parks was well-respected within the African-American community, arousing outrage at the way she was treated by the bus company and police. African-American community leaders, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., met to discuss the situation on December 4, and planned a one-day boycott of the Montgomery public transit system for December 5, 1955. What started as a one-day event eventually stretched 381 days, until December 20, 1956, as the community determined not to ride the buses again until they were integrated.

Rosa Parks unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the segregation law in the Alabama state courts, where the appeals process threatened to drag on for years.

Local attorneys Fred Gray and Charles Lang ford consulted with NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorneys, Robert Carter and Thur good Marshall, whose successful campaign against segregation in education lead to the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, (1954). Carter and Marshall suggested choosing a new group of plaintiffs who had been discriminated against and abused by the busing company.

The resulting suit, Browder v. Gayle, (1956), resulted in the Supreme Court affirming the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama's ruling that the bus segregation was unconstitutional.