It was 55 years ago today, on December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks (“the first lady of civil rights”) stood up for her rights by not giving up her seat to a white passenger, as was the custom and law in the segregated south.
Today, I think it is extremely important to remember the honorable protest in which our African-American brothers and sisters participated. Today we have just as big of a fight ahead. Although it was unconstitutional for our nation to ever enslave, segregate or subject any race to ill-treatment, it seems that ALL of us, regardless of race, gender, age, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, etc., are speeding down the path to be designated as second-class citizens. Why? Because we have not been standing up for our rights. We have not, as a People, collectively taken a stand to say “enough is enough.” We, over the decades, have allowed ourselves to be “dumbed down” and we have become apathetic, so that as long as an injustice doesn’t effect us personally, we just continue with our daily lives, making sure that we don’t miss such programs as “Dancing With the Stars” or “Glee.”
Our public schools systems did not give us a proper education in regards to our Constitution and the principles for which the Revolutionary War was fought. We cannot and must not take our rights for granted. We need to maintain our rights and fight to regain those that the government has “dismissed.” And we must also remember that the Constitution does NOT give us our rights, nor does the government. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, we are endowed by our CREATOR with our unalienable (or inalienable, whichever you prefer) rights! The government is not our parent or our master! Uncountable numbers of men and women have gone without basic necessities, suffered in pain and agony, bled and died for the ideas which are spelled out in the Constitution! Have you read it? Do you have ANY idea of the MANY rights you possess, if you would only assert them?
Please, I beg of you, READ the Constitution, READ the Declaration of Independence and LEARN about the so-called “radical” ideas our founding fathers had regarding independence! If we don’t know what rights we have, how can we expect to keep them? We cannot count on a government who doesn’t respect our rights, to preserve our rights at the same time! We have to do it ourselves! Nobody else will!
In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
Pastor Martin Niemöller
The following newspaper articles tell the story of Rosa Parks and many others, who, starting in Montgomery, Alabama, boycotted the city buses in order to stand up for their rights! The boycott inspired other cities to boycott, until eleven months later, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on buses was unconstitional. Unfortunately, there was still a long road ahead, as African Americans would not (and should not) settle for equality only on public transportation, so they had to fight for their God-given rights in an era when most white Americans had designated them as second-class citizens.
Read and learn! This story should be an inspiration to all who value liberty! (Links are provided to take you to the original, full newspaper articles.)
– 12-05-1955 – Police Alerted For Violence in Alabama – “City policemen were alerted for duty today in the event violence develops in the scheduled boycott of city buses by Negroes protesting a segregation arrest.” … “A mass meeting of Negroes has also been scheduled tonight to discuss “further instructions” in the “economic reprisal” campaign against the bus lines.” (The Dispatch, Lexington, N.C.)
– 12-05-1955 – Violence Threatened in Bus Line Protest – “Commissioner Clyde Sellers said several Negroes have reported threats of violence from other Negroes if they violate a scheduled segregation protest boycott today of Montgomery city line buses.” … “I intend to have policemen at every bus stop and anybody who wants to ride the busses can do so with the Police Dept. assurance they will be protected.”…..He said the threatened boycott is a “most serious matter” and “the Police Dept. intends to deal with it as a most serious matter.” (Daytona Beach Morning Journal, Daytona Beach, Florida)
– 12-06-1955 – Bus Boycott Continues in Alabama City – (6th column, top) “A hymn-singing Negro throng estimated by police as 5,000 shouted approval last night when spokesmen urged them to continue the boycott in protest to segregated transportation facilities.” … “The crowd at the mass meeting last night shouted approval of a resolution which said the boycott would continue until bus patrons are no longer “intimidated, embarrassed and coerced.” (Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania)
– 12-06-1955 – Negro Arrest on Bus May Bring Test – “The arrest of a Negro who refused to move to the colored section of a city bus may bring a court test of segregated transportation in the cradle of the Confederacy. While thousands of other Negroes boycotted Montgomery City Lines in protest, Mrs. Rosa Parks was fined $14 in police court today for disregarding a driver’s order to move to the rear of the bues last Thursday.” … “The Negro woman was first charged with violating a city ordinance which gives bus drivers police powers to enforce racial segregation.” (The Victoria Advocate, Victoria, Texas)
– 12-06-1955 – Negroes Boycott Buses; Patronage Cut 85% – (5th column, center) – “Despite a cold drizzle throughout most of Monday, thousands of Negroes who normally ride the buses refused to board them. They either stayed home from work, walked or caught rides in jammed Negro taxis.” (The Owosso Argus-Press, Owosso, Michigan)
– 12-08-1955 – Bullet Barely Misses Driver in Montgomery – “A disorderly conduct charge against a 19-year-old Negro, Fred Daniel, was dismissed in city police court yesterday when a Negro woman testified he was helping her cross a street instead of pulling her from a bus as charged by police.” (Times Daily, Florence, Alabama)
– 12-10-1955 – Segregation Discussed in Montgomery – (top, left-hand column) – “The bus company rejected Negro demands that members of their race be hired as drivers on some routes heavily patronized by Negroes, and that seats on buses be put on a ‘First Come, first served’ basis.” … “As to hiring Negro bus drivers, Crenshaw said that the company has no intention of doing that now–‘But who can say what will happen in 10 years?'” (Times Daily, Florence, Alabama)
– 12-13-1955 – Ala. Bus Boycott Costs $3,000 Daily – “We are tired of being humiliated by bus drivers! … Those drivers talk to us like we are dogs. Ordering us to get up out of our seats and give them to white passengers. Even other white passengers are not above saying: ‘N….r get up out of your seat.'” -Rev. J. R. King (Baltimore Afro-American, Baltimore, Maryland)
– 12-13-1955 – Bus Boycott Gets Tighter – “The citizens’ boycott of the city buslines is increasing in strength. As the protest entered its fourth week Sunday, it was reported to be 99 per cent effective.” … “Where you used to find one or two colored passengers on the buses, you’ll have to look for yours to find one, today, the Rev. Mr. King revealed.” (Washington Afro-American, Washington, D. C.)
– 01-02-1956 – Montgomery Bus Boycott in 5th Week – “Bus company officials have estimated the Negro passenger load is off 75 to 90 per cent. Two bus routes through Negro residential sections of Montgomery have been discontinued and four others shortened to eliminate most of the travel through Negro areas.” … “Atty. Jack Crenshaw, representing the bus company which is a subsidiary of National City Lines of Chicago, rejected the “first come, first served” idea, because, he said, it would violate the “separate but equal” requirement in the law.” (The Rock Hill Herald, Rock Hill, South Carolina)
– 01-05-1956 – Asks Higher Bus Fares Because of Boycott – “In a plea for temporary doubling bus fares, a spokesman for the Montgomery City Lines said ‘we can’t continue to operate’ with reduced payloads resulting from a racial boycott.” … “…the bus company requested the City Commission to temporarily raise fares from 10 to 20 cents. The petition also asked that school children’s fares be hiked from 5 to 10 cents, and that a 5 cent charge be permanently placed on transfers, which are now free.” (Daytona Beach Morning Journal, Daytona Beach, Florida)
– 01-31-1956 – Jail Bus Boycott Leader – “Frustrated by the bus boycott of the Montgomery Improvement Association which began on Dec. 5, the city officials have initiated a ‘get-tough’ policy. This policy is primarily aimed at the owners of automobiles in a 200-car pool, which has been transporting citizens about the town. One of the victims of the ‘ride-the-bus-or-else’ campaign of Mayor W. A. Gale and company was the Rev. M. L. King, leader of the improvement association.” … “The city officals have embarked on a two-point program. First, a campaign of intimidation through a series of harrassing arrests in an effort to tear down our morale; Secondly, they are attempting to provoke violence.” (Washington Afro-American, Washington, D. C.)
– 02-07-1956 – The Wrong Move – “If Montgomery city officials wanted to solidify and strengthen the determination of colored people to continue the boycott, they couldn’t have done any better than to arrest 24 pastors.” … “Moreover, what city officials in their right senses would want these 24 preachers praying every night asking the good Lord to take care of their enemies?” (Baltimore Afro-American, Baltimore, Maryland)
– 02-15-1956 – Bus Boycott by Negroes in Ala. Extended – “Instead of diminishing in strength, the boycott has held steady if not more effective than at the start. A grand jury has started an investigation to determine whether state laws against boycotts were violated.” … “The Negroes’ action was the reverse of an early goal of the white Citizens Councils. They were formed partly to impose economic penalties on Negroes who advocated integration.” (The Times-News, Hendersonville, North Carolina)
– 02-21-1956 – Montgomery Negroes Continue Bus Boycott – ‘Vow to Walk On’ – “Indictments could be returned under an old Alabama law which makes unlawful boycotting punishable by a fine of $1,000 and six months in jail.” … “We have walked for 11 weeks in the cold and rain. Now the weather is warming up. Therefore, we will walk on until some better proposals are forthcoming from our city fathers.” (Toledo Blade, Toledo, Ohio)
– 02-22-1956 – Negroes Are Arrested For Boycott in Alabama – “Deputies moved swiftly today with the roundup of 115 Negroes charged with persuading members of their race to stop riding city buses rather than take a back seat to whites.” … “It was believed all the defendants were accused of violating a little used state law passed in 1921 making it a misdemeanor to conspire to prevent others from carrying on their business…It was originally was enacted to minimize the effect of labor disputes.” (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Florida)
– 02-23-1956 – Negro Leaders Arrested in Alabama Bus Boycott – “Mrs. Parks was sentenced to 14 days in jail in lieu of the fine today after Circuit Judge Eugene Carter…turned conviction in city court. She appealed Judge Carter’s decision to the state supreme court, and immediately afterward was arrested on a boycotting indictment.” (Schenectady Gazette, Schenectady, New York)
– 02-26-1956 – Boycott Continues as Legalities Hit Alabama Negroes – “…Negro leaders have vowed to carry on the bus protest as though no legal action had been taken, because, as the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy said, ‘Our actions have not been found to be illegal as of this day. The courts will decide that.'” … “But for 24 hours Friday, to demonstrate their determination to go on foot if need be; the Negroes in uncounted numbers joined in a walk-to-work pilgrimage.” (The Victoria Advocate, Victoria, Texas)
– 03-03-1956 – Says Leaders Can’t Stop Boycott Now – “One of the city commissioners has been quoted as saying that one of the reasons colored people are able to use an economic weapon against the city is because “We have given them an opportunity to get good jobs.” … “‘Here we have been kind to our colored people,’ says Police Commissioner M. Sellers, ‘and they do this to us.'” … “For years the drivers were carrying guns. We have had a case of a driver shooting a rider. They have been granted police power and have abused it.” (Baltimore Afro-American, Baltimore, Maryland)
– 03-22-1956 – Negro Witnesses Relate Mistreatment on Buses – “…R. A. Parks, husband of Mrs. Rosa Parks…testified that he had once been forced to take another bus to reach his destination because the driver of the bus he was riding wouldn’t let him off when he buzzed for a stop…..Other witnesses testified that drivers habitually referred to them as “Niggers” and occasionally as “you ugly black apes.” (Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, Canada)
– 06-01-1956 – Ala. Boycott 6 Months Old Today – “Six months ago tomorrow a matronly Negro seamstress was arrested and taken to jail for refusing to give up her seat in the white section of a Montgomery City Lines bus.” … “That was last Dec. 5, and the boycott is still in effect with unabated determination to win equal rights for the estimated 50,000 Negroes in Montgomery.” … “A smoothly functioning car pool which includes 14 church-operated station wagons runs on a rigid schedule without charge to the riders.” … “In recent weeks, however, new model station wagons bearing the names of 14 churches have made their appearance at the boycott dispatch and pickup stations.” … “Private automobiles are still used, too, said Rufus Lewis, chairman of the MIA’s transportation committee. Drivers are paid $4 a day plus gasoline and, in some instances, garage repairs.” (The Spartanburg-Herald, Spartanburg, South Carolina)
– 06-01-1956 – Fla. Negroes Hasten Full Bus Boycott – TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — “Many of this capital city’s Negro population of 14,000 walked or rode to work in hastily-organized car pools again this morning.” … “They said 33 cars were operating a pool to pick up an estimated 1,200 passengers at 13 stations throughout the city.” … “The boycott was started by students at the all-Negro Florida A&M University Monday in protest over the arrest of two coeds for sitting in the white section of a segregated bus.” (The Times-News, Hendersonville, North Carolina)
– 06-01-1956 – Judge Bans NAACP in [Ala]bama – “Circuit Judge Walter B. Jones issued a temporary injunction today outlawing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Alabama.” … “It prohibits the NAACP from conducting further business in the state, from organizing any new chapters, from collecting any more funds.” (The Miami News, Miami, Florida)
– 06-05-1956 – Court Rules Segregation Outside Law – “A three-judge federal court panel in a 2-to-1 vote today ruled racial segregation unconstitutional on Montgomery city buses. The panel ruled that both the city and state segregation laws requiring separate seating facilities for white and Negro passengers violate the federal constitution.” … “The ruling doesn’t become effective immediately…until a formal judgment is entered.” … “The decision came on the sixth-month anniversary of Montgomery’s Negro bus boycott which started last Dec. 5 in protest against segregated seating facilities on city buses.” (The Windsor Daily Star, Windsor, Ontario, Canada)
– 06-06-1956 – Boycotts of Buses Continue – “Negro bus boycotts continued in two Southern cities today in the wake of a ruling by a three-judge federal court panel that racial segregation on one of the bus lines was unconstitutional.” … “Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D. NY) said 12 persons, “white and Negro from North and South,” would meet in New York Saturday to consider whether the “time is ripe” for a nationwide program of passive resistance similar to the two bus boycotts.” (Tri-City Herald, Pasco, kennewick and Richland, Washington)
– 06-11-1956 – Hint Bus Boycott by Miami Negroes – “[Rudolph Reid, 19] was arrested Monday night after he refused to move to the rear of a Miami Transit Co. bus. A bus boycott was hinted as a result.” … “Neal Adams of the NAACP said that the bus company ‘will be sued’ and that ‘it could mean a bus boycott.’ Such boycotts previously have been put into effect at Montgomery, Ala., and Tallahassee, Fla.” (The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
– 06-12-1956 – Urges Ike enforce U. S. Court order ending bus segregation – CINCINNATI–“President Eisenhower has been called upon to intervene in the six-month-old Montgomery bus boycott to guarantee that city officials obey the recent Federal District Court ruling outlawing racial segregation in city buses.” … “The Convention also adopted resolutions calling upon the American Medical Association to go on record against discrimination in appointments to hospital staffs and the American Hospital Association for equal use of facilities irrespective of race or creed.” (Washington Afro-American, Washington, D. C.)
– 06-28-1956 – Negro Leader Urges Use of Non-Violence – “The Rev. Martin Luther King, leader of the Montgomery, Ala. bus boycott, has urged Negroes to oppose segregation through “non-violent resistance.” … “Reviewing the history of the Montgomery bus boycott, King told how the organized protest against Jim Crowism shows there is a “brand new Negro” in the South, with a “new sense of dignity and destiny.” (The Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah)
– 09-08-1956 – Montgomery bus boycott to continue until victory – “We will walk until there is not a single segregated bus left in Montgomery, Ala.” said the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy … “‘the new colored man’ who refuses to be an ‘Uncle Tom’ for a pat on the back and special consideration but stands united for first-class citizenship” … “…colored people throughout the United States were winning the fight for full citizenship.” (The Afro American, Baltimore, Maryland)
– 09-25-1956 – Something Wrong With Our Way of Life – “On Dec. 1, 1955, I had worked all day on the job and my only thought was to get home and rest. It just happened that the driver (on the bus) didn’t want to see some of his white passengers stand. I was seated with three ladies and when the driver told them to move, they moved. He spoke to me in a threatening manner and I refused to move and he called the officer and I was arrested. It was as simple as that.” –Rosa Parks (Baltimore Afro-American, Baltimore, Maryland)
– 11-14-1956 – Negroes Hail Court Decision, Precedent For Other Cases Seen – “‘We were badly treated on the buses but now they’ve given us justice.’…was the reaction of a 78-year-old Montgomery Negro woman to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday that bus segregation is unconstitutional.” … “White officials across the South took a strong stand directly opposed to hers.” … “Leaders of the 11-month-old bus boycott in Montgomery indicated the decision would bring the protest to an end, its purpose now removed.” (Kentucky New Era, Hopkinsville, Kentucky)