Dr. King’s Address to End the Montgomery Bus Boycotts (Nov 1956 – Rare)

Published on February 22, 2021 by

In December 1955, NAACP youth leader Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man in a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

A one-day bus boycott happened as a result. But Black people were mistreated so long (and the boycott was super-effective), so Montgomery residents decided to keep the boycott going until full desegregation of the buses took place.

The boycott was lead by Dr. King, then leader of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). The boycott lead to a June 1956 2-1 ruling in Browder vs Gayle, making bus segregation unconstitutional.

The city of Montgomery and the state of Alabama both appealed. While the appeal was going, the bus boycott kept going (many other cities followed their lead and were successful in getting city buses desegregated — but Montgomery, Alabama was stubborn).

To combat the bus boycott, the city of Alabama asked a city judge to “halt the car pool” the protesters had going on. (Think Uber, but in 1956). On Nov 13, 1956, the Alabama judge granted the city’s request — however, during that day the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the June 1956 ruling, saying bus segregation was unconstitutional.

The KKK rode through Black neighborhoods that night. And the MIA committee recommended the boycott would continue until the Supreme Court decision took effect.

The next day, Nov 14, 1956, MIA attorneys wanted a temporary restraining order to prevent the city from interfering with the boycotter’s carpool used for their boycott. They were unsuccessful. Late that night, Dr. King spoke in a mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery to an estimated crowd of 4,000.

This audio is that meeting. In it, Dr. King holds a vote on MIA’s recommendation on whether the boycott should continue until the Supreme Court ruling is upheld. He then speaks about the spirit and nature of the movement, and why Black people shouldn’t rejoice in white people’s faces once buses become desegregated (which was imminent by that time).

Incredible words spoken here.


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