The Civil Rights Movement

  • The Civil Rights Movement

  • An Excerpt from β€œTHE BLACK EXPERIENCE IN AMERICA” Published electronically by its author, Norman Coombs, and Project Gutenberg. (C 1993) by Norman Coombs.

  • Narrator

    On December 1, 1955, an obscure black woman, Mrs. Rosa Parks, was riding home on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

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  • As the bus gradually filled up with passengers, a white man demanded that she give him her seat and that she stand near the rear of the bus.

  • Mrs. Parks, who did not have the reputation of being a troublemaker or a revolutionary, said that she was tired and that her feet were tired.

  • The white man protested to the bus driver.

  • When the driver also demanded that she move, she refused.

  • Narrator

    Then, the driver summoned a policeman, and Mrs. Parks was arrested.

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  • None of this was unusual.

  • Daily, all across the South, black women surrendered their seats to demanding whites.

  • Although most of them did it without complaint, the arrest of an obstructionist was entirely within the framework of local laws and in itself was not a noteworthy event.

  • However, the arrest of Mrs. Parks touched off a chain reaction within Montgomery's Afro-American community.

  • If she had been a troublemaker, the community might have thought that she had only received what she deserved.

  • Narrator

    On the contrary, its citizens viewed her as an innocent, hardworking woman who had been mistreated.

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  • Her humiliation became their own.

  • Spontaneous protest meetings occurred all across Montgomery, and the idea of retaliating against the entire system by conducting a bus boycott took hold.

  • Almost immediately, the call for a black boycott of Montgomery buses spread throughout the community, and car pools were quickly organized to help people in getting to and from their employment.

  • Whites refused to believe that the black community could either organize or sustain such a campaign.

  • Nevertheless, Montgomery buses were running half empty and all white.

  • Narrator

    The man chosen to lead the Montgomery bus boycott was a young Baptist minister named Martin Luther King, Jr.

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