THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT: A MODEL FOR HISTORICAL THINKING IN EDUCATION
Presented to the faculty of the Department of History California State University, Sacramento
Submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of
MASTER OF ARTS
by Monica Rae French SPRING 2012
THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT: A MODEL FOR HISTORICAL THINKING IN EDUCATION
Monica Rae French
Approved by: __________________________________, Committee Chair Chloe Burke __________________________________, Second Reader Donald Azevada
Student: Monica Rae French
I certify that this student has met the requirements for format contained in the University format manual, and that this project is suitable for shelving in the Library and credit is to be awarded for the project.
__________________________, Graduate Coordinator Mona Siegel
Department of History
Abstract of THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT: A MODEL FOR HISTORICAL THINKING IN EDUCATION by Monica Rae French Statement of Problem The Women’s Political Council fought bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, prior to the 1955 bus boycott but these women are often neglected in teaching about the civil rights movement. Women such as Jo Ann Robinson, who led the Women’s Political Council in Montgomery in the 1950s, as well as the women involved in Browder v. Gayle, that ultimately declared bus segregation to be unconstitutional, are important to understanding the bus boycott in its complexity. These women were tireless innovators who blazed the trail for the boycott to be successful. Their often forgotten achievements are important in understanding the role of women in the boycott and the boycott itself. Highlighting the complex and underlying causes of the boycott and women’s role in the boycott teaches students that the boycott did not “just happen.” It was the result of gendered, racial and economic tensions gradually brought to light by people willing to bravely challenge the status quo. Emphasizing primary source investigation, this project proposes 11th grade history curriculum on the bus boycott and the Women’s Political
Council that serves as a model for incorporating historical thinking in history educators’ classrooms.
Sources of Data Primary source material used in this project to demonstrate the origins and strategies of the WPC, include memoirs and oral histories of women “trailblazers” such as Jo Ann Robinson, Mary Fair Burks and Rosa Parks; voting records, bus passenger population, and voting and census records; legal documents such as laws specific to bus segregation and the Browder v. Gayle Supreme Court. Finally, history pedagogy references include educational studies produced by Sam Wineburg.
Conclusions Reached The Women’s Political Council was the catalyst for the Montgomery bus boycott. The black female professors and professionals in Montgomery were the original trailblazers of the civil rights movement. The Montgomery bus boycott and the WPC provide an excellent model for teaching a complex civil rights event, encouraging critical thinking, and historical thinking skills
_______________________, Committee Chair Chloe Burke
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Once again, to Nolan.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................ vi Chapter 1. INTRODUCTION: TEACHING THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS …MOVEMENT ................................................................................................................. 1 Teaching the Civil Rights Movement ............................................................................. 4 Teaching the Montgomery Bus Boycott ......................................................................... 7 2. RECOGNIZING THE WOMEN TRAILBLAZERS OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS …MOVEMENT ............................................................................................................... 12 3. PREPARING FOR THE REVOLUTION: WPC’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST BUS …SEGREGATION IN MONTGOMERY ....................................................................... 26 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 26 Women’s Political Council ........................................................................................... 29 Fighting Montgomery’s Segregated Bus System ......................................................... 34 The Search for a Model Case ........................................................................................ 42 The Boycott Begins....................................................................................................... 48 The Browder Case......................................................................................................... 53 4. TEACHING THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT ...................................................... 59 Historical Thinking ....................................................................................................... 59 vii
Teaching with Historical Documents and Images ........................................................ 60 Web-Based Historical Research ................................................................................... 67 Performance Assessments ............................................................................................. 70 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 73 Appendix A. Teaching Application .................................................................................. 75 Forward ......................................................................................................................... 75 Model Lesson Plans ...................................................................................................... 77 Web Quest ................................................................................................................. 77 Activities/Lessons for Images ................................................................................... 79 Document Strategies/Activities ................................................................................ 81 Montgomery Bus Boycott PowerPoint Presentation ................................................ 83 Document Based Question ........................................................................................ 86 DBQ Teachers Guide ................................................................................................ 91 DBQ Student Support ............................................................................................... 93 Museum Project ........................................................................................................ 95 Montgomery Bus Boycott: Background Essay ....................................................... 100 Historical Reference (People) ................................................................................. 102 Historical Reference (Terms) .................................................................................. 106 Historical Analysis Tools ............................................................................................ 109 Primary and Secondary Sources ............................................................................. 109 viii
Three Levels of Questioning ................................................................................... 110 SOAPS .................................................................................................................... 111 Document Analysis Worksheet............................................................................... 112 Photo Analysis Worksheet ...................................................................................... 113 Cartoon Analysis Worksheet .................................................................................. 114 Artifact Analysis Worksheet ................................................................................... 115 Map Analysis Worksheet ........................................................................................ 116 Historical Primary Sources: Photographs, Documents, Interviews ............................ 117 Document Guiding Questions ................................................................................. 117 Interview Guiding Questions .................................................................................. 117 Images .................................................................................................................... 118 Documents .............................................................................................................. 127 Interviews ................................................................................................................ 147 Claudette Colvin ................................................................................................. 147 Rosa Parks ........................................................................................................... 150 Fred Gray Sr. ....................................................................................................... 154 Jo Ann Robinson ................................................................................................. 156 Additional Montgomery Bus Boycott Web Sources .................................................. 160 Bibliography ................................................................................................................... 161
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION: TEACHING THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT History is the most important subject in the development of a civically minded citizen. It has the ability to bring diverse individuals together, teach about mistakes of the past, and engage individuals in the important critical thinking process of cause and effect. Because of history’s power, people have manipulated the subject to create stereotypes, biases, and false information. When Woodrow Wilson, once faculty at Princeton University, proclaimed the Klan-loving Birth of a Nation was “writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true” he proved how sometimes history is really just a story. Yet, Wilson’s message, as well as the film can serve as an important history lesson simply by posing the question “why?” to the students. “Why?” is the most important question in teaching historical thinking and preparing students to becoming active citizens. “Why?” challenges the students to think about cause and effect in the historical event at hand, and to ask “why” in their civic lives. History teachers have the difficult task of teaching, and having students memorize a variety of information for the purpose of standardize testing. This in itself is a task that most teachers and students find difficult. Because of that, many teachers and students resort to the “kill and drill” method involving daily Power Points and routine note taking, culminating in a multiple choice test at the end of the week. Commonly, after analyzing the test results, if the teacher feels that the students did not grasp the information they
2 repeat the process, with new information. This is the task of the history teacher in today’s society of API test score pressure and the continued anxiety oozing from administration offices to improve test scores. Memorization is an important skill for students to learn; however, it should not be the chief skill learned in a history class. Students need to learn how to think historically. While mastering information allows students to structure opinions and form an argument, it does not teach them how to think. In order to demonstrate a variety of levels of thinking, in 1956 Benjamin Bloom developed “Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning.” This pyramid-shaped classification table places the greatest amount of emphasis on “Knowledge” as foundational for learning. Knowledge preceeds comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Many educators, and their administrators who evaluate them, argue that the ultimate goal of the student should be evaluation. However, Sam Wineburg, and one of his doctoral students at Stanford, question Bloom’s taxonomy placement of knowledge at the bottom and evaluation at the top of the pyramid.1 After giving a primary document to a variety of successful Advanced Placement United States history students, Wineburg and his associate determined what was lacking in history education was an understanding of context. Most of the students took an 1892 document about memorializing Columbus Day, placed it in a modern context, and proceeded to draw conclusions based on perceptions of Christopher Columbus in present day. They drew on their background knowledge about the famous
Sam Wineburg and Jack Schneider, “Was Bloom’s Taxonomy Pointed in the Wrong Direction?” Kappan 91, no. 4, December 20009/January 2010, 56-61.
3 explorer and formed an opinion about. The students were not able to tackle the document from the point of view of the time when the document was created. The students did not ask “why” that document was created in 1892, or what was going on at that time to motivate President Benjamin Harrison to proclaim the first Columbus Day. These students did what is typical of most high school history students—they answered questions without asking them first, and gave answers based in present-day knowledge without contextual analysis. Teachers train students to use documents to answer a question and not to pose further questions. However, as Wineburg’s study proved, “knowledge possessed does not automatically mean knowledge deployed.”2 The Department of Education has gradually come to the conclusion that history education should not be completely measured and structured around the memorization of facts. Because of this, since 2010 California, as well as many other states, have encouraged the development of common core standards—standards not just focused on historical facts, but based in the use of skills of historical reading and analysis. These standards emphasize the ability to analyze historical discourse (RH 11-12.4), evaluate authors’ differing points of view for the same historical event (RH 11-12.6), integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information to answer an historical question (RH 11-12.7) and integrate information from diverse sources, discerning discrepancies form the various sources (RH 11-12.9).3 California plans to adopt these nation-wide standards by the 2014-2015 school year to accompany revised content-based standards. These common 2
“Was Bloom’s Taxonomy Pointed in the Wrong Direction?” 60. “English, Language-Arts Standards: History/Social Studies Grades 11-12.” Common Core State Standards Initiative (accessed 13 March 2012) 3
4 core standards illustrate the new wave in history education. History content standards in their stand-alone form promote learning history as the memorization of facts. However, being able to interpret data, recognize bias, and analyze why and how sources differ are skills that transcend the history discipline and support a student’s civic life, and future career in a variety of disciplines. An important way to teach students how to create historical questions is to present them with primary documents while reinforcing basic historical knowledge. When students learn to think about a document, person, or event in its historical context not only will students more aptly memorize the information for standardized tests as demanded by state and federal governments, they acquire critical thinking skills that they can transfer into other scholastic subjects and their lives. Teaching the Civil Rights Movement Content Standard 11.10 for United States History and Geography education California public schools for grade eleven reads, “Students will analyze the development of federal civil rights and voting rights.” The standards break down further to read “11.10.4: Examine the roles of civil rights advocates (e.g., A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, James Farmer, Rosa Parks) . . .”4 While California History Standards allow for teachers to include the histories of other significant individuals, it is abundantly clear that the individuals listed must be taught in
“Grade Eleven United States History and Geography: Continuity and Change in the Twentieth Century” History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools, http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/histsocscistnd.pdf, 59. Accessed March 30, 2012.
5 preparation for the California Standards Test (CST) in Social Science administered every spring. Despite some pedagogical freedom for history teachers, when examining the civil rights movement many teachers mainly focus on the individuals listed in the standards, or rely on the few expanded upon in the textbook. However, by teaching students about everyday people who influenced and shaped the movement, they will be able to understand the individuals listed in the standards more effectively. It is the goal of this thesis project is to help teachers prepare students for the CST through standard 11.10 by increasing a student’s ability to think historically through primary sources, teach modernday researching skills and expand both student and teacher knowledge of significant, although underrepresented, individuals of the civil rights movement. In today’s content standards, there is an emphasis on students learning the history of the modern African-American civil rights movement. Because of this emphasis, and the creation of content-based standards, American students have a greater knowledge of key civil rights activists than in previous generations. Between June 2005 and August 2006 Sam Wineburg and assistant professor of education at the University of Maryland Chauncey Monte-Sano posed an important question to American high school students.5 Curious about how changes in curriculum materials influenced popular historical consciousness, the two scholars asked “Who is a ‘famous’ American?” Students were allowed to choose individuals from Columbus to present day, but not presidents or their wives. With the surveys returned, Wineburg and Monte-Sano discovered that the top
Chauncey Monte-Sano and Sam Wineburg, “Famous Americans: The Changing Pantheon of American Heroes.” Journal of American History (2008), 1188.
6 three names were all African American: Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. These results reflect developments in history curriculum since the 1960s. In 1926 Carter Woodson the founder of the Journal of Negro History designated the week in February that included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass as “Negro History Week.” 6 That year there were parades and educational events; however, it was not until the civil rights movement of the 1960s that white America noticed the lack of African American history in schools and research.7 Researchers at Smith College’s Center for Study of Social and Political Changed discovered that Dred Scott was the only African American figure mentioned multiple times in high school textbooks.8 African Americans, as well as women and Native Americans were virtually ignored. Amazed at these findings, Congress investigated the bias in textbooks and encouraged states to pass laws prohibiting prejudicial treatment of minorities and that instructional material, lesson plans, units, and books include a “balanced portrayal of ethnic groups.”9 While teachers clamored for materials for their classroom, a new wave of social historians widened the historical scope to include diverse studies of African Americans, as well as women and workers. Although some historians, teachers and students were pleased with the new deluge of materials on African American history, the purpose of introducing new materials was somewhat controversial. Both white and black people in education debated 6
Larry Cuban “Not ‘Whether?’ But ‘Why? and How?’—Instructional Materials on the Negro in the Public Schools The Journal of Negro Education , Vol. 36, No. 4 (Autumn, 1967), 434. 7 Famous Americans: The Changing Pantheon of American Heroes,” 1186. 8 “Famous Americans: The Changing Pantheon of American Heroes,” 1187. Frances FitzGerald, 9 Cuban, 434.
7 about who and what to teach, as well as what goals there should be. In 1967 The Journal of Negro Education concluded that the purpose of teaching African American history in school was to offer white and black students a more balanced picture of the American past while removing misinformation and stereotypes as well as improving interracial relationships and improving the self esteem of the black student.10 Teaching African American history in this way, however, offers a limited perspective of African American history, by teaching only “heroes” and neglecting the broader meaning of the African American experience throughout American history. The Wineburg and Monte-Sano study illustrates that forty years later the concerns raised in the Journal of Negro Education continue to ring true—students are familiar with African Americans in American history, but only those few heroes who are portrayed “in a realistically positive light.”11 Teaching the Montgomery Bus Boycott The Montgomery bus boycott has been studied from a variety of points of view. Scholars have eagerly uncovered the boycott from a religious perspective by examining the role of reverends such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy who are particularly well represented in popular histories. These histories emphasize the importance local churches played in launching and organizing the boycott and ultimately
Cuban, 434. Cuban, 435.
8 its success.12 In the traditional narrative, mass meetings and donations collected through the church helped to unify the African American population of Montgomery, leading to a successful boycott and an overturning of bus segregation laws. The details of the boycott are also presented from a legal perspective. Prominent African American NAACP chapter president E. D. Nixon is popularly cast as the hero in this history. He worked tirelessly with white politicians, leaders in the African American community, and the Women’s Political Council (WPC) to find the right case to change bus segregation laws. The religious and the legal perspectives often overlap as Nixon sought the approval from Montgomery congregations prior to changing segregation legislation. Until recently, civil rights historiography has underemphasized the role women played in creating and charting the course of the Montgomery bus boycott, and in the history classroom women are represented only by Rosa Parks. This project reveals that politically minded women united in the Women’s Political Council to fight segregation prior to the 1955 boycott, and argues that their organizational actions were important to achieving success during the boycott. This thesis offers a history of the Montgomery bus boycott that places women at the center. Key questions addressed include: Why was the WPC created? What were their goals? How did the WPC influence the bus boycott, the NACCP, and SCLC? To what extent was the boycott successful because of WPC efforts? How did the WPC shape the Browder v. Gayle (1956) case?
See Lawrence D. Reddick, Crusader without Violence: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York, 1959); Lerone Bennett, Jr., What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Chicago: 1968); David L. Lewis, King: A Biography (Urbana, Ill., 1978), Ira Zepp, The Social Vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing, 1989).
9 Studies of the Montgomery bus boycott began almost as soon as the boycott ended. One of the first was penned by King himself, who emphasized the role of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the success of the boycott. Shortly after King’s Stride Toward Freedom, other SCLC staff members, notably Charles Fager and Ralph Smeltzer reported their accounts on the boycott emphasizing the role of the church.13 Social historian Doug McAdam argues that the boycott arose when southern blacks mobilized their own organizational resources rather than waiting for legislation. This project adopts a similar approach by focusing on an all-black organization, the Women’s Political Council (WPC), and its efforts to protest Montgomery’s bus laws in the years prior to the 1955 boycott, and significantly its recognition of the need to unify a socially, economically, and politically divided black community uneasy with disrupting the status quo. This project differs from historians such as Aldon Morris who argues the boycott gained merit from local organizational centers, but emphasizes the role of the church in creating movement centers.14 David Garrow remains the foremost expert on the boycott, examining legal, religious, and social dimensions of the boycott.15 He is one of the first historians, without a first hand experience of the boycott, to discuss the WPC. However, until recently, other historians have only lightly mentioned the WPC or the role of women in the boycott. Prior to Rosa Parks, women in Montgomery from a variety of socio-economic classes, and levels of education protested bus segregation laws by refusing to give up 13
Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010) Aldon Morris, Origins of the Civil Rights Movement (New York: Free Press, 1986) 15 The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989). 14
10 their seats. The Women’s Political Council was an all-female African American political group organized and led by college professors who worked tirelessly to address the injustices experienced by black individuals (predominantly women) who rode the buses everyday. The WPC sought the legal advice of E. D. Nixon, the president of the Montgomery chapter of the NACCP, and religious advice from Reverend Ralph Abernathy. However, prior to the arrest of Rosa Parks, many legal, religious, black business and community organizations refused to help the WPC in their pursuit of fair bus legislation. Both Nixon and Abernathy claimed that it was not the right time; that the city was not ready; and that other women who resisted segregation were not good “test cases” for change through the legal system. The WPC, however, never gave up and they were prepared to launch a boycott when Parks refused to give up her seat. They sent demands to bus drivers, politicians and newspapers, promising that if segregated seating on the city busses did not end, there would be economic consequences for the city and the transportation system. These letters challenged the status quote but were always signed, “Respectfully yours.” Because of their prior preparation, the WPC was able to quickly mimeograph notices of a bus boycott the night Parks was arrested and delivers these to black schools, churches, and places of business. This project argues that the WPC was the organizational machine behind the efforts in Montgomery to end segregation in public facilities. Although they were as important as Martin Luther King, Jr. to the success of the boycott, the WPC remains dramatically underrepresented in historical scholarship on the subject and in classroom teaching.
11 Answering the question “why” will not only encourage the students to think historically, it will prepare them to be civically-minded citizens in today’s world, and will ultimately result in the students understanding, not just memorizing, basic knowledge for the CST. This project aims to use the Montgomery bus boycott as a model for engaging students in historical thinking. Chapter Two, “Recognizing the Women Trailblazers of the Civil Rights Movement” is a brief historiography of studies of women in the modern African American civil rights movement. The focus is chiefly on how specific female activists such as Daisy Bates, Jo Ann Robinson and Rosa Parks reflected on their involvement in the movement. Chapter Three, “Preparing for the Revolution: WPC’s Campaign against Bus Segregation in Montgomery,” analyzes the role the Women’s Political Council’s played in organizing the boycott. Special attention is paid to why the WPC formed, how they reached the goal of ending bus segregation and their influence on organizing the black community in preparation for a city-wide boycott. Chapter Four, “Teaching the Civil Rights Movement,” examines methods of teaching historical thinking skills, why this approach is important, and how it can be accomplished through model lesson plans on the Montgomery bus boycott and the WPC. The Appendix presents a number of lessons, tools and activities that are aimed at teaching students to think historically. In these classroom materials, students learn to analyze history by thinking about people and events in a specific historical context. The Appendix offers a comprehensive unit on the Montgomery bus boycott, as a model to encourage the sort of historical depth that is needed in society today, as well as connect with the Common Core Standards.
12 CHAPTER TWO RECOGNIZING THE WOMEN TRAILBLAZERS OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT The civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century influenced activists across the United States and around the world for over fifty years. African Americans’ fight to end segregation and ensure equal rights among its citizens was fought in very diverse ways, in a variety of settings. Groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched campaigns in the legal world. Because they believed the Constitution of the United States was on their side, they took their battles to the courtroom. Thurgood Marshall led the team that proved the effectiveness of this strategy in the landmark Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 that ended racial segregation in schools. Other groups, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) believed that non-violent direct action and church-based leadership should be at the center of the movement. Beginning with the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, King, and the Reverends Abernathy and Shuttlesworth used this method to lead protest marches and rallies for racial equality across the country from Selma, Alabama to Washington, D.C. Between the 1960s and 1980s, influenced by an increase of feminist studies and stemming from the new social history of the 1960s, many civil rights historians began to examine the experiences and role of women in the movement. These histories emphasize the significant participation of women as organizers. One of the first to advance this argument was Mary Fair Burks, the founder of the Women’s Political Council in
13 Montgomery, Alabama. Reflecting on the role of women in 1955 bus boycott, Burks argues that black women in the civil rights movement were “trailblazers,” which she defines as a pioneer in a field of endeavor, in distinction to the torchbearer who “follows the trailblazer, imparting tested knowledge or truth provided originally by the pioneer in its rudimentary form.”16 Burks argues that many African American women were trailblazers, and many African American men were torchbearers. Black women all over the United States from Reconstruction through the civil rights movement blazed a path to equality. Many black female activists, however, remained anonymous and invisible to history. Because of their experience of the triple bind of oppression—racism, sexism and classism – black women experienced subjugation and the movement differently than black men. In contrast with male activists who led the national organizations, or participated as lawyers, women often started local, grassroots movements, and protested consumer inequality. Beginning with studies published in the1950s by movement participants, through to contemporary scholarship, civil rights historiography is characterized by a diversity of approaches to the subject as scholars have emphasized the importance of leaders of the movement; civil rights legislation; grassroots campaigns; local movements; religious influences; and gendered perspectives. Scholars of the 1970s and 1980s focused on leaders and events that led to a national political impact.17 These scholars focused on the
Mary Fair Burks, “Trailblazers: Women in the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” in Black Women in United States History (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing, 1990), 71. 17 Carl M. Brauer, John F. Kennedy and the Second Reconstruction (New York, 1977); Robert Frederick Burk, The Eisenhower Administration and Civil Rights (Knoxville, Tenn., 1984); Thomas R. Peake,
14 achievements of King, the politicians he worked with and legislation he influenced. In the late 1980s historian Carson Clayborne challenged standard interpretations of the civil rights movement by arguing that legislation and black liberalism sprang out of smaller grassroots-based black organizations that created “new social identities for participants and for all Afro-Americans.”18 More recently, historians Tera Hunter and Barbara Ransby have furthered civil rights historiography by examining the power of black women in shaping the civil rights movement.19 Hunter’s To Joy My Freedom charts black women laborers in the South from the Civil War to World War I, arguing that they shored up a degree of power through their labor. Ransby’s biography of Ella Baker charts Baker’s political involvement and influence on civil rights legislation, and grassroots organizations from the 1920s through the 1970s. These studies contribute to a greater understanding of the Montgomery bus boycott as they illustrate the current trend in analyzing the role of typically understudied women and female-led groups in evoking change. Charles Payne’s article, “Men Led, but Women Organized,” argues that women overwhelmingly led the movement organizationally. Women invited activists into their homes, gave them a place to eat and sleep. Women also canvassed neighborhoods and businesses more than men, attended more mass meetings and demonstrations and more
Keeping the Dream Alive: A History of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from King to the 1980s (New York, 1987). 18 Carson Claybourne, “Civil Rights Reform and the Black Freedom Struggle,” in Charles W. Eagles, ed., The Civil Rights Movement in America (Jackson, Miss., 1986), 23-27. 19 Tera Hunter, To Joy My Freedom (Harvard University Press, 1997); Barbara Ransby, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement (University of North Carolina Press, 2005).
15 frequently attempted to register to vote.20 In his essay, Payne suggests a variety of reasons for such high numbers of female activist participation in the movement, especially in the 1960s. Additionally, Payne discounts theories that women were less threatening as an explanation for their participation in such high numbers. He argues that black women often lost their jobs for participating, were regularly clubbed at demonstrations, shot at, raped and murdered. Based on his findings, Payne suggests that black women welcomed opportunities to be part of an organization that thrived on community bonds, kinship and communal networks.21 Black women’s lives in the South encouraged them to mediate conflicts, take care of other people’s children and coordinate everyday activities from slavery through modern time. Historian Barbara Ransby refers to this concept as “sisterly support.”22 Because many black women did not have the luxury to be stay-at-home mom’s and watch over their children everyday, many black women helped out their “sisters” while they were working. This allowed black women a way to work both in and out of the home, and contribute to the organization and coordination of other families and their lives. It was the importance of community organization to the movement that encouraged women’s participation and often resulted in a higher number of female activists than male. In response to the absence of attention given to individual African American women and their contributions to the movement, many activists chose to write their
Charles Payne, “Men Led, But Women Organized: Movement Participation of Women in the Mississippi Delta” in Black Women in United States History (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing, 1990), 1. 21 Payne, 8. 22 Barbara Ransby, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 8.
16 memoirs, recording their experiences and demonstrating their influence on the movement. Daisy Bates, the NAACP worker who aided in the integration of the Little Rock Nine into Central High School told her story in The Long Shadow of Little Rock. Written during the movement in 1962, her work served as a model for other female activists who would write their memoirs in the 1990s. In a forward to Bates’s story written by Eleanor Roosevelt, the former first lady states, “This is a book which I hope will be read by every American.”23 Bates’s book is a detailed personal account of what it was like to grow up black in the South; she argues that her story similar to most of her black counterparts. She first experienced racism when she was seven years old, sent on an errand to get meat from the butcher. When the butcher refused to help her until all of the white people were served she ran home crying. Bates experienced additional problems while trying to buy candy, and after winning a game of marbles with a white boy. Because of such experiences, Daisy grew to hate white people until her father, on his death-bed advised her to “hate discrimination,” not white people just because they’re white.24 After that moment Bates decided to run an all black newspaper and later worked for the NAACP to fight against discrimination. As with most female activists of the movement, Bates does not cast herself as the heroine of an event, but places herself as an important observer to the events in Little Rock in 1957. She became aware of the problem of black schools while working as editor-in-chief of the State Press when she ran a story about a school for black children 23
Daisy Bates, The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir (New York: David McKay Company, 1962), xii. 24 Bates, 29.
17 that was one room for twenty-seven students aged six through twelve, without outdoor toilets, with the children performing janitorial work.25 After publicizing such a story and confronting Governor Faubus about his anti-integrationist policies, Bates became involved in aiding the nine high school students who integrated Little Rock’s all-white high school. She details her role as the main communicator between the school, government, students and parents. However, in her memoir she tells this as a “story of the people,” with the “children of Little Rock” cast as the heroes.26 Many other female activists emulated Bates’ style of down-playing their individual role and emphasizing the role of the community. This is true of Jo Ann Robinson’s memoir The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It, which was published with the help of prominent Martin Luther King, Jr. historian, David Garrow. Garrow met with Jo Ann Robinson in Los Angeles in April 1984 to interview her for an article he was writing on the boycott. As the interview progressed, Garrow discovered that Robinson had detailed her accounts of the boycott in a manuscript for posterity but had little intention of publishing it. Garrow commented that Robinson’s memoir, “though a first-person, autobiographical story, showed Mrs. Robinson to be a resolutely self-effacing person, someone who was exceedingly reluctant to give to herself, rather than to others, credit for some accomplishment.”27 Robinson’s memoir gives a detailed account of the Women’s Political Council, which she presided over between 1950-1956, and their role in starting the bus boycott. 25
Bates, 50. Bates, 219. 27 Jo Ann Gibson Robinson The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women who Started it: The Memoir of Jo Ann Gibson Robinson. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987), xii. 26
18 She personalizes her memoir with varied accounts of personal abuse and the abuse others suffered by others on Montgomery buses during the era of Jim Crow. These are infrequently told stories of greatly personal accounts of bus drivers removing women physically from buses, police killing “disorderly” black male passengers, and unknowing black out-of-towners suffering from arrest for their lack of knowledge of Montgomery’s austere bus laws. The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It recounts not only years of abuse on buses prior to Parks’ arrest, but expands further on the role of the WPC prior to the boycott, the boycott itself, white reactions to the boycott, and the legal battle to end segregated seating on buses (the Browder case). Robinson emphasizes the difficulty of uniting a socially and economically diverse black population and the amazing result of the community coming together for a common cause. For 381 days, African Americans refused to ride city buses, volunteered to drive carpools, donated money, organized meetings and helped families when the breadwinner lost their job due to their protest. Robinson’s memoir reminds historians that major events, such as Parks’ arrest and subsequent large-scale boycott do not spontaneously occur. They are often the result of long fought struggles and are preceded by years of resentment and oppression. Rosa Parks also detailed her personal account of the Montgomery bus boycott in a memoir, Rosa Parks: My Story. Growing up, Parks encountered discrimination and segregation like most black individuals living in the South in the early twentieth century. She recalls how her mother and grandfather told her stories about slavery and that her great-grandfather was a white plantation owner who mistreated Parks’ grandfather daily. She realized that she was different from white children when she noticed that she went to
19 a different school than her white peers. The white school children went to a schoolhouse with glass windows, and she went to a schoolhouse with wooden shutters, and no windows. Because of these experiences, Parks argues that she grew up tired of being treated with little or no respect. In her memoir, Parks writes that when she refused to move from her seat on December 1, 1955, she “had no idea . . . that [her] small action would help put an end of the segregation laws in the South.”28 Parks does not claim to be an innovator, the first black person, or black women to refuse to give up her seat. She emphasizes that it was fairly common for black men and women to refuse to give up their seats. Additionally, she often complained to the Montgomery chapter president of the NAACP, E. D. Nixon, that the organization needed to negotiate some changes to the bus system. Parks gives additional credit to Jo Ann Robinson for influencing the Women’s Political Council to challenge bus segregation laws, and Claudette Colvin for refusing to give up her seat in the spring of 1955. Parks’ account of her act of personal protest on the bus is one of humility. She admits that had she thought that if she would be the test case for the NAACP and their protest against Montgomery city buses, she “might have gotten off the bus.”29 Taking a wider view than is often possible by the writers of memoirs, historian Danielle McGuire takes a different approach to explaining Rosa Parks and her actions that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. In At the Dark End of the Street: Black
Rosa Parks, Rosa Parks: My Story (New York: Dial, 1992), 2. Parks, 116.
20 Women, Rape, and Resistance: A New History of the Civil Rights Movement, McGuire argues that Parks’ experience as an investigator for the NAACP in the years prior to the boycott influenced her activism in Montgomery in December 1955. McGuire labels Parks as a “militant race woman, a sharp detective, and an anti-rape activist long before she became the patron saint of the bus boycott.”30 While working for the NAACP, Parks was also a member of their Committee for Equal Justice, a grassroots organization that, once merged with the Women’s Political Council, became the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization that led the boycott. Rape, according to McGuire, was a tool the white patriarchy used to ensure their domination and justify the lynching of black men who challenged the Southern status quo. When Martin Luther King, Jr. called the rape of African American women the “‘thingification’ of their humanity,” black women spoke out in protest of King’s aside to their plight, and advocated for themselves and other black women in courtrooms, launched public protests, and sparked larger national campaigns.31 The Montgomery boycott was an additional way that black women could challenge their assailants in public, as most of the bus riders were black women and girls. As McGuire asserts, the Montgomery campaign was a “women’s movement for dignity.”32 Civil War on Race Street: The Civil Rights Movement in Cambridge, Maryland adds complexity to historical understanding of the movement scholarship by examining a case of community activism with a single woman at the center. In this work, Peter Levy 30
Danielle McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance: a New History of the Civil Rights Movement (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), xvii 31 McGuire, xix. 32 McGuire, xix.
21 places Gloria Richardson at the center of the movement that took place in Cambridge, Maryland in the 1960s. Richardson’s grandfather served on the town council for fifty years. As a result Cambridge developed a reputation for having only a “moderate system of white supremacy.”33 In the 1960s Gloria Richardson’s teenage daughter participated in sit-ins and marches throughout the city. As her daughter increased in activism, she did as well. However, Richardson led a very different movement than those led by CORE or SCLC in the 1960s. Under her leadership, her organization, the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee embraced a more militant, defiant, and armed resistance. She did not limit the movement’s goals to desegregation in restrooms and restaurants, but instead encouraged broader goals of empowerment, more public housing, school desegregation and political participation. As a mother, Richardson’s understanding of oppression was broader than most men in Cambridge. She felt the pain of her children’s segregated education and suffered personally from living in black ghettos. Barbara Ransby’s book Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision also focuses on a single woman’s role in promoting grassroots activism. Ransby details Baker’s participation in a variety of organizations, such as the NAACP, In Friendship, SCLC and SNCC, her dedication to grassroots mobilization, and examines how she shaped the civil rights movement over a broad period of time. As Baker’s views evolved to be democratically egalitarian and she insisted on confrontational tactics, so did the black freedom movement, and its organizations.
Peter B. Levy, Civil War on Race Street: The Civil Rights Movement in Cambridge, Maryland (Gainesville, Fla., 2003), 1.
22 Ransby argues that “Following Baker’s path back through the years, trying to look at national and world events from her vantage point, takes us to different sites of struggle, opens up different windows of conversation, and pushes us into different people’s lives than if we were to have someone else as our guide.”34 It is through Ella Baker’s emphasis on grassroots participation, role as a teacher and personal confrontations with racial, economic and gender inequalities that readers get a different and complex perspective of the civil rights struggle from the 1920s-1970s. Ella Baker saw civil rights through the gendered, class, and racial perspective of her own experience. Working with the NAACP, and SCLC Baker was witness to a variety of forms of class and gender discrimination within civil rights organizations. To Baker, this was the flaw of the black freedom movement: a limited point of view that looked down upon the poor, uneducated, women, or political leftists. Despite her upbringing, which encouraged her to lead the proper middle class female lifestyle, Baker grew to believe that everyone should become active citizens. This grassroots focus led her to argue, “serious social change . . . lies instead in the commitment and hard work of the rank-and-file membership and the willingness and ability of those members to engage in a vibrant and reciprocal process of discussion, debate and decision making.”35 Current civil rights historiography expands the study of the civil rights movement by examining dimensions of gender, class and labor.36 Contributing to this
Barbara Ransby, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 7. 35 Ibid., 139. 36 Francis G. Couvares, ed., “The Civil Rights Movement: New Directions” in Interpretations of American History (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009), 299.
23 historiography are biographies such as Pauli Murray: The Autobiography of a Black Activist, Feminist, Lawyer, Priest, and Poet and Elaine Brown’s A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story which continue to reveal the significance of individual women to the movement.37 From the vantage of these biographical studies of civil rights, the movement assumes a new, challenging perspective that exposes the limited goals of the predominately-male leadership. Historian Lynne Olson also uses this biographical method in her study, Freedom’s Daughters. This monograph represents a collection of biographical histories of women who fought in the modern civil rights movement. Olsen’s goal is to overturn notions that women did not widely participate, mold and lead the civil rights movement. In 1998 former civil rights reporter claimed “There were no women, period. No women to cover [the movement] as journalists, and no visible women on the front lines. . . . It was very macho.”38 In this collection, Olson argues that white women and black women were reliant on each other, their families and the trailblazing women before them. Additionally, she claims that without such women as Rosa Parks there would be no Martin Luther King Jr. as the world knows him. Parks was a daughter of freedom herself, as women such as Virginia Durr and Septima Clark greatly influenced Parks in her fight for civil rights. Female activists, black and white from the early twentieth century onward, faced the difficulty of balancing their lives, motherhood, work and housework with defying presidents, the Ku Klux Klan and complex relationships with male leaders 37
Ibid., 300. Lynn Olson Freedom’s Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement From 1830-1970 (New York: Scribner, 2001), 15. 38
24 of the movement. Because of these complicated choices, often singularly associated with women, black women activists’ “needs and interests would be largely ignored by black male activists.”39 Reflecting on the March on Washington, August 28, 1963, most Americans can connect with Martin Luther King, Jr., and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Less well known but revealing of the limited perspective of male civil rights leaders is an incident that occurred at the start of the speeches, when veteran civil rights activist A. Phillip Randolph attempted to pay tribute to female activists from the past decade. Randolph, was not quite sure what to do, or say, and introduced Daisy Bates to the stage to deliver awards to the female activists. However, when Bates took the stage she looked confused, as she did not have any awards to hand out, as Randolph announced, but was there with the other female activists to show their solidarity for the movement. When Bates left the stage, Randolph attempted to acknowledge by name these women activists who were sitting separately from the male movement leaders, at the front of the stage, but he was unable to recall most of their names. He acknowledged Diane Nash of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Mrs. Herbert Lee, the wife of man who was recently killed while trying to register to vote, Mrs. Medgar Evers, but stumbled, saying, “uh, who else uh.” Rosa Parks and Gloria Richardson had to introduce themselves.40
Olsen, 16. David E. Dixon and Davis Houck ed., Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965 (Jackson, Mississippi: University of Mississippi Press, 2009), x. 40
25 That a tribute to female civil rights leaders, organizers, and workers turned into a demonstration of the sexism in the movement can help scholars understand why there is a gendered gap in civil rights scholarship. During the movement many women were trailblazers, they created, innovated and started movements. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Jo Ann Robinson first initiated the idea of city-wide bus boycott. Gloria Richardson started a more militant movement in Cambridge, Maryland, Ella Baker started her own innovated ways to mobilize grassroots leadership, and Daisy Bates started her own newspaper. However, most of these women accepting the expectation that men would assume the torchbearer role. As Charles Payne argues, women welcomed the chance to be a part of a community, they treated fellow activists like family and were instrumental in planning the movement. However, as Parks, Robinson and Bates narrate in their memoirs, many female organizers did not claim heroism, but shared in the collective accomplishments. Because of personal humility many female activists did not document their story or promote public recognition of their influence on the movement. As recovered audio and video footage from the movement is digitized, speeches are recovered, and memoirs are published, however, the history of women’s in the civil rights movement becomes increasingly detailed and known. It is clear that women did not just take orders from men they led the movement.
CHAPTER THREE PREPARING FOR THE REVOLUTION: WPC’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST BUS SEGREGATION IN MONTGOMERY Introduction In the decade prior to Rosa Parks’ arrest in 1955 a group of women, mostly educators from Alabama State College, worked tirelessly through the Women’s Political Council (WPC) to end segregated seating on Montgomery’s city buses. The WPC organized meetings, publicized the ill effects of bus segregation, and was the first of any group in Montgomery to challenge Jim Crow buses directly through protests to the Mayor and the bus company. Although told countless times in classrooms across the country, the story of Parks’ arrest and the Montgomery bus boycott is incomplete without paying attention to the efforts of the Women’s Political Council to lay the foundations for united and sustained protest by the black community. Jo Ann Robinson and Mary Fair Burks, the original founders of the WPC, were college professors who were accustomed to enjoying a degree of respect that black women of other occupations did not experience. As black professional women working at an all-black university, they did not often engage with whites in their daily lives as many other black women did on public transportation, or in service occupations. On a Montgomery city bus, however, black women of all classes were subjected to being called derogatory names as they entered the bus from the front, paid, exited, and then reentered through the back door. When Burks and Robinson experienced such harassment, their bubble of privilege vanished and they saw the plight of the women who rode the
27 buses everyday – primarily those who worked as maids and nannies for white Montgomery families. They shared their recognition of the hardships endured by women on public transportation with their colleagues and the WPC grew. The WPC also recognized that it would be necessary to unite an African American community that was divided by socio-economic gaps to end racial bus segregation—one of the most public and humiliating aspects of the Jim Crow South. Between 1947 and 1955 Mary Fair Burks and Jo Ann Robinson, the two presidents of the WPC, filed complaints with the three member City Commission, or “City Fathers” as Mrs. Robinson called them, to no avail.1 The tireless efforts of Robinson and the WPC before and during the boycott, and the influence of the WPC in the Browder v. Gale case that eventually ended the segregated bus system in Montgomery and the United States proves that ultimately, women trailblazers were the spark that ignited the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 19551956. The story of Parks’ arrest and the Montgomery busy boycott, although told so many times in classrooms all over the country for decades, is incomplete. Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat and the subsequent yearlong boycott was only successful because the Women’s Political Council had laid the foundation that created a united black community. Blacks made up three-quarters of the ridership on Montgomery buses. They often did not feel that ridership was an option, like choosing to patronize a segregated restaurant or theater, as their jobs and livelihood depended on public
Jo Ann Gibson Robinson The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women who Started it: The Memoir of Jo Ann Gibson Robinson. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987), 20.
28 transportation.2 Bus ridership additionally affected women to a greater degree than men as the use of the family car usually belonged to the male head of household, and not the woman. Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s African Americans experienced physical brutality, verbal humiliation and arrest for not giving up their seats to white riders, not having exact change, or for simply attempting to ride the bus.3 The women of the WPC fought to bring these brutalities to light, challenge the legality of bus drivers’ actions, and teach the African American community how to protest such injustice. Although it indeed all started on a bus, the neglected history of the WPC proves that the Montgomery Bus Boycott started long before Mrs. Parks’ arrest. Writing the history of the Montgomery bus boycott began almost immediately after the boycott ended. However, it was not until the 1980s that famed Martin Luther King, Jr. historian David Garrow addressed women’s actions and the arrests prior to Rosa Parks. Garrow’s Walking City, a collection of interviews, journal articles, personal reflections includes Garrow’s own ground-breaking essay, “The Origins of the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” remains the most respected source on bus segregation in Montgomery prior to the boycott.4 In the years immediately following the boycott, many histories focused on the role of the church and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the boycott. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Stride Toward Freedom and Reverend Ralph Abernathy’s M.A. thesis “The Natural History of a Social Movement:
Russell Freedman Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. (New York: Holiday House, 2006), 83 3 Robinson, 23. 4 The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989).
29 The Montgomery Improvement Association” discuss the importance of church organization, the philosophy of non-violence, Parks’s and King’s leadership, but only briefly mention Montgomery in the years prior to the boycott.5 Although scholars have shied away from writing larger-scale studies of the Women’s Political Council, the memoirs of Jo Ann Robinson, Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin document the history of the bus boycott through their honest and personal reflections on the years prior to 1955.6 Missing from civil rights and bus boycott historiography is an in-depth study of how women worked at a grass-roots level to unite the black community in the 1940s and early 1950s. Although this was not the WPCs’ original goal, it is the central force behind creating a citywide boycott and for understanding why the boycott was successful. Without this study, the history of the boycott is incomplete. Women’s Political Council Mary Fair Burks, the founder of the Women’s Political Council lived in Montgomery most of her life. Even as a child Burks understood the immorality of segregation and racial degradation. As a result, she launched her own “private ‘guerilla warfare,’ invading restrooms with signs that read ‘For White Ladies Only’ and strolling
Ralph D. Abernathy “The Natural History of A Social Movement: The Montgomery Improvement Association.” In The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow, 99-172. (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989). King, Martin Luther, and Clayborne Carson. Stride toward freedom: the Montgomery story. (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010) 6 Claudette Colvin, Twice Towards Justice (New York : Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009), Jo Ann Gibson Robinson The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women who Started it: The Memoir of Jo Ann Gibson Robinson. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987), Rosa Parks Rosa Parks: my story. (New York: Dial Books, 1992).
30 through whites-only parks.”7 These acts of personal rebellion satiated Burks in her youth, however, as an adult she grew increasingly aware of the institutions of racial prejudice in Montgomery. In 1946, she and a white woman disputed over a right-of-way accident. When the police arrived to settle the difference of opinion Burks was arrested and jailed under “vague charges.”8 Although the charges were dropped, for Burks it became clear that Montgomery needed drastic change, more than could be accomplished through a stroll through a forbidden park. Burks formed the Women’s Political Council in 1947 because she felt it was her duty to create an organization to confront racial and gender injustice in public, not just through private rebellions. Burks believed that black women in Montgomery were not adequately represented by the existing political organizations such as the NAACP or the Black Business Men of Montgomery. Burks felt it her duty to create an organization to confront racial and gender injustice in public, not just through private rebellions. Because black women’s only source of political action in Montgomery was the local chapter of the NAACP, Burks formed the Women’s Political Council. Women did not often hold positions of authority in the NAACP; additionally the NAACP was not focused on issues that related directly to the lives of black women such as domestic working conditions, education, and housing. The WPC was comprised mostly of black middle class women who were working professionals. The other members were mostly from Alabama State College, local public school teachers, and also nurses and social workers. One of the original members, 7
Lynn Olson Freedom’s Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement From 1830-1970 (New York: Scribner, 2001), 90. 8 Olson, 90.
31 Johnnie Carr immediately saw a need for such an organization because Montgomery’s chapter of the Women’s League of Voters excluded black women.9 Black voters represented less than ten percent of the Montgomery voter population in the election of 1948 and African-American women voters represented only a small fraction of that ten percent,10 Mary Fair Burks reflected on her limited political power in Montgomery and the dismal amount of female African American voters in the 1940s to create the original goal of the WPC—increase black female voter registration. With increased numbers of black female voters, Burks saw an increase in black female political power. This was especially important as black women although they were over 56% of the black population in 1950, and nearly 23% of the total Montgomery population.11 The original goal of the WPC was to increase black female voter registration to build black female political power. By 1950 the WPC had grown into one of the most prominent civil rights organizations in Montgomery with 300 members who were registered to vote and active in the political community.12 As voter registration grew, the WPC expanded their goals into voter education, political action and specifically the protest of segregated services. Burks’ successor as the president of the WPC after 1950, Jo Ann Robinson, did not grow up as an activist. In the early 1920s, young Jo Ann Gibson learned from an early age how influential she could be when faced with life’s challenges. Jo Ann Gibson grew up in Culloden, Georgia, about twenty-five miles from Macon. She was the 9
Johnnie Carr, interview by Steven Millner July 17, 1977 in The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 528. 10 The American National Election Studies Table 6A.2.2 11 1950 U.S. census data. 12 Erna Allen Interview by Steven Millner August 6, 1977 in The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 521.
32 youngest of twelve children all living with their land-owning farmer parents. The Gibsons were quite successful as farmers until Jo Ann’s father, Owen, died. The older children moved away and her mother, Dollie, realized she could no longer support the remaining younger children by working the farm. She sold the property and moved in with her children, bringing Jo Ann with her.13 From this experience Jo Ann learned how important education was, and was determined never to be in the same situation as her mother. In her new home, Jo Ann graduated from high school as the valedictorian and later earned her undergraduate degree at Fort Valley State College and continued on to earn her Master’s of Arts in English at Atlanta University. This was quite an achievement. In 1950 only 3.1% of the African American population completed four or more years of college, and only 1.2% of total African American college graduates were black women.14 Robinson was aware of how extraordinary her achievements were and she sought to encourage young black men and women to earn an education. To complete her education, Robinson traveled to Los Angeles and New York City to earn graduate degrees. In these places, although racism existed, Robinson experienced a freedom she had not previously known. After completing her degrees, Robinson returned to Georgia and started her career in education at a public school in Macon where she met and married Wilbur Robinson in 1942. However, after the loss of her infant child, Robinson left Macon and her husband to teach English at Mary Allen College in
David Garrow, “The Origins of the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” In The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow, 607-620. (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989) 607. 14 U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of Population, U.S. Summary, PC80-1-C1 and Current Population Reports P20-455, P20-459, P20-462, P20-465RV, P20-475.
33 Crockett, Texas.15 After one year in Texas, Robinson found her home in the English department of the all-black Alabama State College in Montgomery. Living in Montgomery and teaching at Alabama State College ultimately turned Robinson’s life upside down, and started a personal fervor to end segregated buses in Montgomery. In December 1949, Jo Ann Robinson boarded her first and last Montgomery city bus and confronted the most segregated bus system in America. She had been an English faculty member at Alabama State College since the start of the semester and was looking forward to traveling to Cleveland for the holidays to visit friends. Unaware of Montgomery’s strict segregated bus laws, and accustomed to the transportations systems in the North and West, Robinson chose a seat in the third row from the front. The driver abruptly stopped the bus to correct Robinson’s assumed brazen behavior. “Get up from there!” the driver shouted repeatedly as he stood over Robinson “his hand drawn back as if he were to strike [her].”16 Robinson immediately vacated the bus, unwittingly exiting by the front door, an exit reserved solely for whites. Distraught by her experience, Robinson decided to join the fight for civil rights through the Women’s Political Council, formed by her colleague Mary Fair Burks two years earlier. Robinson’s participation in the WPC influenced the organization to put its weight behind ending bus segregation in Montgomery. From that moment Robinson saw that it was her job to bring immediate attention to Montgomery’s segregated seating: “It was then,” she recalled, “that I made up . . . my mind that whatever I could add to that
Garrow, 607. Robinson, 16.
34 organization that would help to bring that practice down, I would do it. When I came back [from vacation], the first thing I did was to call a meeting . . . and to tell them what had happened.”17 Fighting Montgomery’s Segregated Bus System Before the bus boycott, Montgomery city bus drivers often got away with abusive treatment of black passengers, which if contested typically ended in the rider receiving a punishment. Although this treatment of passengers was not officially legal, Montgomery was known to have one of the most rigid bus segregation laws in the country. In most southern cities such as Richmond, Virginia, Atlanta, Georgia and Nashville, Tennessee, passengers were expected to fill city buses on a first-come, first-serve basis with blacks filling buses from the rear toward the front and white passengers required to follow the inverse pattern.18 Additionally, in none of these cities were blacks expected to follow the demeaning practice of paying through a front door, exiting to re-enter through the rear door and relinquish their seats to late-arriving white passengers.19 When Robinson entered the Montgomery bus incorrectly in 1949 she was truly ignorant of the specific city bus codes—codes that applied only to Montgomery’s city buses and differed greatly from bus codes across the South. The severity of these bus codes contributed to the bus boycott specifically occurring in Montgomery
Robinson, 17. Steven Millner “Montgomery Bus Boycott: A Case Study in the Emergence and Career of a Social Movement” in The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow: 381-518 (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 434. 19 Numan V. Bartley, The Rise of Massive Resistance: Race and Politics in the South During the 1950s (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press 1969date?), 67-81.70. 18
35 In the first part of the twentieth century, bus codes were adopted with the introduction of public trolley cars to connect suburban housing to the city center. However, blacks in Montgomery did not strongly feel the effects of these segregation laws as many did not have to use the bus to get to work since they worked on farms or near their homes and used the bus system on a weekly basis to make a social visit into town. However, as Montgomery’s black population increased in the city proper, more people gradually began to work in the predominantly white populated areas, mainly as domestics, and were forced to ride the bus on a daily basis. By 1955 the city buses served seventeen to eighteen thousand daily black riders, most of whom were women as black females outnumbered black males by twelve percent.20 The WPC’s campaign to challenge bus segregation laws connected with black working women who relied on city transportation. Black women in Montgomery often reflected on unfair treatment while in department stores where clerks refused to address them with respect as Mrs. or Ms, or had to suffer such indignities as placing protective caps over their heads prior to trying on hats.21 Indignities the white population did not experience. Despite such degradation, black women had a choice to patron such stores, or to shop at places friendly to black customers. The bus system, however, was a public service black women had to use twice daily to get to work and or home. By 1950 the WPC had grown into three chapters of over one hundred members each spread all over the city. As head of the English department at Alabama College 20
Millner, 435. Johnnie Carr, interview by Steven Millner July 17, 1977 in The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 527. 21
36 Burks knew that she could not give both her full attention so she asked Robinson to take over as head of the WPC. However, Burks continued to serve the WPC as a representative and special advisor to Robinson during meetings with the mayor.22 Still frustrated with her experience on the Montgomery bus from that cold December day, under Robinson’s leadership fighting the segregated bus system became intensified. The WPC’s first step was to change the black population’s opinions about segregated bus seating. In Robinson’s opinion, “people accepted the discrimination. They stood on the bus, over empty seats. They paid money and got off and [got back] on from the back [entrance].”23 They were following the law without a second thought. Many black individuals accepted the bus codes because they needed public transportation to earn a living. Complaining about, or challenging the law could result in losing one’s job. This legalized system of injustice needed to change; however, it was unclear how to change a system that the black community relied on so deeply to earn a living. In the year since her traumatic experience, Robinson learned of three Montgomery women who were arrested for refusing to give up their seats to white riders, in addition to three children who were arrested without conviction for their ignorance of Montgomery’s bus segregation laws. These arrests as well as reports to the WPC of women’s mistreatment on buses, such as drivers spitting on women, calling them derogatory names such as “nigger bitch,” and physical abuse on both male and female black drivers, drove the WPC
Robinson, 25. Jo Ann Robinson Interview by Steven Millner August 10, 1977 in The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 570. 23
37 to direct action.24 However, the local NAACP was not concerned with overturning that aspect of Plessey v. Ferguson since public transportation was mainly utilized by the working-class black population, and so was not perceived to affect the interests of the whole black population. As a result, Robinson found it difficult to unite the black leadership to fight segregated city buses. In the early years of Jo Ann Robinson’s tenure as president of the WPC, she and chief WPC members, Johnnie Carr and Irene West, sought the advice of prominent African American organizations in Montgomery that were led by men. The Montgomery chapter of the Alabama Progressive Democratic Association (APDA) and the Citizens Steering Committee, a small, yet economically diverse organization of black businessmen, were the first groups the WPC approached for advice, money, organizational matters, or for direct access to Montgomery’s political commission. Erna Allen, the secretary for the WPC reflected on the WPC’s interaction with these organizations. According to Allen, Women listened to men, they passed the ideas to men to a great extent. Mary Fair Burks and Jo Ann Robinson were very vocal and articulate, especially in committee meetings. But, when it came to the big meetings, they let the men have the ideas and carry the ball. They were kind of like the power behind the thrown. We really were the ones who carried out the actions.25 The WPC discovered that these male-run political councils did not have the same goals and interests they did. Edgar Daniel (E. D.) Nixon, a prominent civil rights activist and member of the NAACP, APDA, Montgomery Welfare League, and Montgomery Voters 24
Robinson, 27. Erna Allen Interview by Steven Millner August 6, 1977 in The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 522. 25
38 League worked with the WPC in the years prior to the boycott and spoke on behalf of many of the black male-dominated political organizations. In 1950 and 1951 the WPC proposed to Nixon a plan to foster a united black community through coordinated action by a number of organizations: the WPC would campaign to gain the support of black females, the NAACP would encourage the support of the black male upper class, and the APDA would gather the black businessmen. Motivated by a personal passion for ending bus segregation, Robinson failed to recognize the importance of unifying the black community and suggested launching an immediate boycott of city buses to bring humiliating bus regulation to end. Although Nixon was aware of the importance of ending segregated bus seating, he was not willing to risk losing what little political capital the black community had on challenging bus segregation. Nixon pointed out that rushing into a full-scale boycott too soon could alienate both the white and upper class black population resulting in nothing changed, except possibly the election of anti-civil rights politicians. Nixon presented Montgomery’s City Commission with a list of requests for improved bus passenger treatment, but did not continue to press the issue with city politicians for fear an aggressive approach on the issue would alienate the city from electing white democratic politicians who were often sympathetic to African Americans’ more “substantive grievances.”26 After the boycott Nixon reflected on his initial reluctance. “I wrote the early demands ‘cause I wanted to be sure we got
39 something started. . . . I wanted to have something our people would accept so we could build an organization around.”27 The goals and tactics of the WPC and the NAACP were clearly not in harmony. The “Men of Montgomery” as Robinson called the black male-led organizations, did not like to use the word “integration” because “it would have been too much; there would have been much bloodshed and arrests of those who dared to disclose such an idea!”28 Because most of the women of the WPC had defied the odds by earning professional jobs and graduate degrees, they already had a brazen attitude, an outlook that they applied to integration. In contrast, the NAACP had been in existence for several decades, had worked on anti-lynching campaigns and defended 14th amendment rights for blacks on college campuses and in government jobs during WWII. The NAACP was aware of the importance of public relations and public perception. Despite their organization’s differences, after three years of negotiations, the WPC and NAACP fostered a unique and effective partnership that balanced working within the law with inciting the public’s passion for change through direct action. In 1954, however, WPC had yet to find common ground with NAACP and Robinson was tired of waiting. The NAACP strategy of increasing black voters to end bus segregation had failed to achieve contact with the bus company officials.29 Other members of the WPC were more sympathetic. Thelma Glass, believed that the NAACP and APDA worked tirelessly to end bus segregation, but that “the Montgomery County 27
E. D. Nixon Interview by Steven Millner July 27, 1977 in The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 546. 28 Robinson, 23. 29 Robinson, 30
40 Commission often turned a deaf ear to the black community's plight and threatened to arrest people if they tried to attend meetings,” and the NAACP’s hands were tied. Robinson decided that the best course of action would be for the WPC to create their own list of demands and introduce them to the city of Montgomery and to the bus company independently of the other black political organizations. Presenting their demands independently of the NAACP and the APDA was not easy for Robinson and the WPC. They were politely heard by the council, and then positively ignored due to both their gender and race. At a March 1954 meeting the commission decided to included more bus stops in black neighborhoods. Although this was a request the WPC made, they saw this gesture as having little meaning and articulately pointed out that the City Council did not address their demand to end bus segregation.30 When news of the Brown decision calling for an end to segregation in public schools spread throughout the South, Robinson was reinvigorated. Blacks throughout the South saw this decision as “the second Emancipation Proclamation.”31 Robinson saw it as an opportunity to put pressure on the city to end bus segregation. Two months later, with increased frustration, Robinson called Mayor Gayle and said that without the Mayor’s help “they were going in the front door [of the bus] and sit wherever they pleased.”32 Robinson followed up with a written demand from the WPC presented to the mayor, the City Commission, and city bus drivers to: seat blacks from back to front and whites front to back, but allow integration when in need of seating; not require blacks to 30
Clayborne Carson, et al, eds., The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 44. 31 Carson, Eyes on the Prize, 45. 32 Olson, 91.
41 pay at the front, exit and re-enter in the rear; and have buses stop on all corners in black residential areas. Robinson justified her demands by explaining that seventy-five percent of city bus passengers were African American, and that “if Negroes did not patronize them, they could not possibly operate.”33 The WPC alleged that if their demands were not met, everyday blacks in Montgomery were prepared to arrange rides to work with neighbors and friends, and that approximately twenty-five or more city-wide organizations had discussed plans for a boycott. Although Robinson admitted in her demands that “we do not want this,” she was hoping this tactic would intimidate the city commissioners into changing the law.34 Robinson was well aware, however, that the black community of Montgomery was not ready for mobilization for a boycott. Given her experience with the existing black political organizations, the WPC knew that most black organizations were not willing to disrupt the political status quo to fight against a bus segregation law that affected mainly working class women. In addition, many poor working class blacks were afraid their white employers would fire them. Whenever Mary Fair Burks or Jo Ann Robinson discussed the idea of a boycott with their female peers and working-class friends all they heard in reply was that “they had too far to go to work.” Burks realized that “everyone would look the other way.”35 Although there had been complaints about the laws and unfair treatment, many upper class African Americans did not actively seek to change the laws for fear of arrest or because it did not affect them personally. 33
Clayborne Carson, et al, eds., The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 44. 34 Ibid. 35 Olson, 92.
42 Similarly, many poor African Americans who rode the bus everyday and suffered abuses did not actively protest the laws to avoid arrests and beatings.36 For Robinson, the time had come to evoke change; she would now try to unite the black social classes so they, as a unified whole, would lead a boycott and demand change, not rely on a single organization. Since joining the WPC, bus laws had not changed and Robinson realized that this would continue, “As long as black Americans [would] allow it!”37 Robinson was determined to expose the many arrests that were made every year of blacks who resisted bus segregation. All that the WPC needed was a perfect test case, or a few for that matter, that illustrated African American women’s treatment on city buses. While looking for that person, Robinson prepared a statement calling for a city-wide boycott, with just the “effective on” date left blank. The Search for a Model Case E.D. Nixon agreed with Robinson; the citizens of Montgomery needed a person to stand behind for a boycott to be successful. Ultimately that person would be Rosa Parks; until then the WPC, with the help of Nixon, interviewed every woman arrested for breaking bus segregation laws. Robinson was ready to launch the campaign and willing to start a large-scale boycott over the next individual arrested, man or woman. However, Robinson ultimately deferred to Nixon on who would be able to gain the most sympathy for a successful protest. As president of the local chapter of the NAACP, Nixon had a high degree of respect among black citizens of Montgomery. Even so Robinson 36 37
Millner, 435. Robinson, 27.
43 discovered that Nixon’s help did not speed up the process of ending bus regulation. In defense of his selectivity over choosing the right model, Nixon later recalled specific reasons that women before Parks were unacceptable: The case of Louise Smith. I found her daddy in front of the shack, barefoot, drunk. Always drunk. Couldn’t use her. In that year’s second case, the girl, very brilliant but she’d had an illegitimate baby. Couldn’t use her. The last case before Rosa was the daughter of a preacher who headed a reform school for years. My interview of her convinced me that she wouldn’t stand up to pressure. She was even afraid of me. When Rosa Parks was arrested, I thought ‘this is it!’ ‘Cause she’s morally clean, she’s reliable, nobody had nothing on her, she had the courage of her convictions.38 After December 1, 1954, people would say that Rosa Parks didn’t give up her seat because she was tired. “But that isn’t true,” Mrs. Parks reflected. “I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. . . . No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”39 Mrs. Parks knew the law, which required her to refrain from seating in the first ten rows of the bus, but did not require her to give up her seat in the colored section for a white person. However, Parks was not the only individual who knew this law and refused to acquiesce to the driver. Parks was inspired by the strength and bravery exhibited by one of the members of her Youth Council from the NAACP, a fifteen year old named Claudette Colvin.40 Colvin was an “A” student at Booker T. Washington High, who, ten months prior to Rosa Parks’ arrest, was contemplating an essay she had just written in her civics class
E. D. Nixon Interview by Steven Millner July 27, 1977 in The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 546. 39 Rosa Parks Rosa Parks: my story. (New York: Dial Books, 1992),116 40 Russell Freedman Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. New York: Holiday House, 2006), 23.
44 while boarding a Montgomery bus. The essay topic was about “the injustice of discrimination . . . denouncing the humiliation that black teenagers like herself had to endure.”41 Colvin sat in the middle of the bus, just as the law stated, as the bus began to fill and faced the same situation as Mrs. Parks ten months later. When Colvin resisted moving farther to the back of the bus the driver informed the other passengers: “That's nothing new . . . I've had trouble with that 'thing' before."42 When challenged by a white police officer, she cried out, "It's my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it's my constitutional right!" The arresting officers suggestively commented on Colvin’s bra size on the way to the city jail, and called her “black bitch” and “black whore.”43 While she was dragged off of the bus “kicking and clawing,”44 later that day, on the advice of her mother, Claudette acted calmly and was wellmannered when she was charged with violating Montgomery’s segregation ordinance, disorderly conduct, and assault and battery.45 The day after her arrest the Alabama Journal reported, “Negro Girl Found Guilty of Segregation Violation.” The article stated that Ms. Colvin, “a bespectacled, studious looking high school student,” accepted the ruling “with the same cool aloofness she had maintained” during the hearing.46 The NAACP received over 100 letters of
Olson 92. Claudette Colvin, Twice Towards Justice (New York : Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009), 17. 43 Colvin, 28. 44 Police Department of the City of Montgomery, Alabama, Complaint against Claudette Colvin, March, 2, 1955. 45 Colvin, 7. 46 Barns, Brooks. "From Footnote to Fame in Civil Rights History." New York Times, Nov. 11, 2009, Books section, A1 edition, 42
45 encouragement and support of Colvin, that were sent directly to her Youth Council advisor, Rosa Parks.47 The black community had found a figure to rally around, although it was a limited rally, it was the start of something new for the black citizens of Montgomery. Robinson’s excitement increased as she witnessed the citizens of Montgomery uniting behind a young girl’s act of resistance Colvin appeared, at first glance, to be the ideal candidate to create a Montgomerywide grassroots boycott of the city buses—she was young, well educated and most importantly, seen as a victim. E. D. Nixon, with the encouragement of Jo Ann Robinson, began to follow Colvin closely. Nixon called on J.E. Pierce, a well-know figure at Alabama State College, to interview Miss Colvin, her family, and hint at the possibility of a campaign centered on her protest. However, as with similar post-arrest interviews of black women and girls charged with violating bus segregation laws, Nixon found that Colvin was not the right “fit” to launch a campaign. In Nixon’s opinion, “she was not the sort of person who could best withstand the pressures sure to be exerted on any central figure in a protest” so he left the matter alone.48 The Women’s Political Council initially disagreed with Nixon’s selectivity, however, when it was revealed that Colvin was pregnant with a married man’s child, Robinson agreed that the black community would have a hard time rallying around her. Robinson asserted that “to stage a bus boycott . . .
Ibid,. E. D. Nixon Interview by Steven Millner July 27, 1977 in The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 546. 48
46 the time [had to be] ripe and the people [had to be] ready. The right time came in 1955.”49 On December 1, 1955 when Rosa Parks was arrested for “refusing to obey orders of [a] bus driver,” E.D. Nixon, Robinson and the WPC had found their muse.50 Mrs. Parks lived a respectable life as a forty-two year old married seamstress. She had worked as a dedicated secretary and sexual assault investigator for the local NAACP since 1943, and adviser to the organization’s Youth Council. On that particular day, it was reported that Parks was “tired from work.”51 A fatigue expected as she spent all day altering ready-to-wear clothing, and would be experiencing the holiday rush. Suffering from such exhaustion, Parks sat down on the city bus in the middle section, as a city ordinance dictated that the first ten seats of each bus were reserved for whites only, regardless of the number of whites on the bus. Shortly after Mrs. Parks took her seat, the remaining seats on the bus began to fill. As more white individuals boarded the bus, the bus driver requested that several black individuals give up their seat. Although Parks did not move, three other black men did. After the driver made several requests that Parks move, he threatened Parks, “If you don’t stand up, I’m going to call the police and have you arrested.” “You may do that,” Parks replied in a calm manner.52 Reflecting on her experience that historic day she wrote, “As I sat there, I tried not to think about what might happen. I knew that anything was possible. I could be manhandled or beaten.”53
Robinson, 17. Rosa Parks arrest report 51 Robinson, 43. 52 Rosa Parks Rosa Parks: my story. (New York: Dial Books, 1992),116 53 Parks, 116. 50
47 While others suffered physical abuse before that day for resisting Montgomery segregation laws, Parks was instead arrested, fingerprinted and photographed. Planned rebellion or not, Parks decided that “there had to be a stopping place, and this seemed to have been the place for me to stop being pushed around, and to find out what human rights I had, if any.”54 After her arrest, a very dignified Parks, listened to the charge against her of refusing to obey the orders of a city bus driver, was photographed, fingerprinted, and escorted to a jail cell. The wheels were now set in motion for a boycott. Nixon heard of Parks’ arrest shortly after she was processed. He contacted an acquaintance and lawyer, Clifford Durr, the brother-in-law of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black and quickly posted Mrs. Parks’ $100 bond. Robinson recalled, “the news traveled like wildfire into every black home. Telephones jangled; people congregated on street corners and in homes and talked. . . . But there was a silent tension waiting.”55 Robinson was ready to launch a boycott and wondered if Parks could be the uniting force the WPC had been looking for. Parks was polite, levelheaded, respectful, and had technically not violated the law as she was sitting in the black section of the bus; this was an ideal case to highlight the injustices blacks endured while riding city buses. While the rest of Montgomery was “sullen and uncommunicative,” Robinson contacted attorney Fred Gray, a former student of hers, and plotted the boycott. After hearing in detail the leaflets she had already composed calling for a boycott, Gray asked Robinson, “are you ready?” Mrs. Robinson responded “without hesitation . . . assured
Rosa Parks in Highlander Fold School Tapes, 12-F. Robinson, 44.
48 him that we were . . . and [we] went to work.”56 Throughout the previous year, as stories had reached the WPC of “yellow monsters,” as black riders called them, avoiding picking up black passengers while they waited in the rain, shutting doors on the passengers when they exited the bus and throwing their changed at them as they paid, their militancy grew. The women of the WPC had laid out detailed plans for such an occasion. As stories increasingly reached the WPC of “yellow monsters,” as black riders called them, avoiding picking up black passengers while they waited in the rain, shutting doors on the passengers when they exited the bus and throwing their changed at them as they paid, Robinson’s militancy grew.57 The Boycott Begins After Colvin’s arrest, Robinson and the WPC had been ready to call for a boycott. With Parks’ arrest they put into action their plan to distribute fifty thousand notices calling people to boycott the buses.58 Following her meeting with Gray, Robinson immediately filled in the date on her prepared leaflet, mimeographed it, and by 4 A.M. the day after Parks’ arrest, the leaflets were ready to distribute. Each leaflet read: Another Negro woman has been arrested and thrown in jail because she refused to get up out of her seat on the bus for a white person to sit down. It has been the second time since the Claudette Colvin case that a Negro woman has been arrested for the same thing. This has to be stopped. Negroes have rights, too, for if Negroes did not ride the buses, they could not operate. Three-fourths of the riders are Negroes, yet we are arrested, or have to stand over empty seats. If we do not do something to stop these arrests, they will continue. The next time it may be you, or your daughter, or mother. This woman’s case will come up on 56
Robinson,), 44-45. Robinson, 39. 58 Robinson, 39. 57
49 Monday. We are, therefore, asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial. Don’t ride the buses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere on Monday. You can afford to stay out of school for one day if you have no other way to go except by bus. You can also afford to stay out of town for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please children and grown-ups, don’t ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off of all buses Monday. Robinson was careful to include the Colvin case, which was still fresh on the minds of the black community. To create a unified movement, Robinson knew that drawing on the southern tradition of protecting women would be a persuasive strong force, and so she emphasized the injustices experienced by women. Money was tight in the WPC without a treasury and Robinson had to make the most out of her precious leaflets. Each leaflet was carefully distributed in a place where it would be either read by a variety of people or read and then spread by word of mouth. Between four and seven in the morning, routes were planned, and at eight o’clock the women of the WPC distributed leaflets to Montgomery’s churches, beauty parlors, beer halls, factories, barber shops and business places.59 The WPC had practiced for this moment for years. Their direct and immediate action, as well as their ability to work quickly through the night illustrated their long-awaited determination to start a boycott. By the end of the day, “no one knew where the notices had come from or who had arranged for their circulation, and no one cared. Those who passed them on did so efficiently, quietly, and without comment.”60 The biggest obstacle to launching the boycott and advocating for change in Montgomery buses was uniting the black community under a common cause. The 59 60
Robinson, 45. Robinson, 47.
50 leaflets produced by Robinson after Parks’ arrest did just that. Nixon and the NAACP had correctly assumed that the black population of Montgomery, specifically the educated and affluent groups, did not know about the abuse on the buses. Until the leaflets were distributed, many blacks were unaware of the specific arrests and treatment many African American women endured while riding the buses. This was especially true of the more educated and more economically well-off blacks as Robinson learned when the president of her college, Dr. Trenhom, called her to his office to express his disapproval of her involvement in “the Parks affair.” Rumors had spread throughout the city that Robinson and the Women’s Political Council had been the driving force behind the call for a boycott. Faced with Dr. Trenholm’s ignorance of the situation, Robinson realized that a large part of the boycott would be to educate the entire black community of physical and emotional abuses experienced by riders on the city buses. Determined that even if he fired her, she would stay in his office until he saw the importance of a boycott, Robinson eventually saw “the anger slowly receding from his face . . . and concerns began to show in his expression.”61 From there the WPC knew the leaders of the black community, lawyers, bankers, politicians and reverends, would follow. The day after Parks’ arrest, the Friday night church service at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church was buzzing when the churchgoers had received leaflets during the day. Newly appointed minister Martin Luther King, Jr. could barely control the fervor and excitement of the crowd who eagerly demanded a mass meeting the night of the
51 originally planned “one day boycott,” the following Monday.62 Needing another round of quickly printed fliers, the WPC was called on to prepare notices of the Monday night meeting and hand deliver them door to door over the weekend. The WPC reminded the community once again to “stay off the buses” but added information about the mass meeting where individuals could receive “further instructions” on how to fight bus segregation.63 These vaguely worded instructions aided in Robinson’s cause as it aroused the interest of blacks and whites alike. The white press, specifically the Montgomery Advisor, reported the boycott could be a violent day of action by blacks on both the white and black communities. On the day of the boycott the Montgomery Advisor carried the caption “Extra Police Set for Patrol Work in Trolley Boycott.”64 The paper printed false stories of black domestics who were not going to report to work for fear that protesting “Negros would do them bodily harm.” Because of this, local police vowed to “maintain law and order” and “protect Negro riders.” The efforts of the white press to discourage support for the boycott were to no avail, as the black community “scoffed at” these stories, and empty Montgomery buses trailed along all day void of black passengers.65 On the night of the first day of the boycott, the first mass meeting took place at Holt Street Baptist church under the leadership of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Reverend Ralph Abernathy. At this meeting of thousands King addressed the crowd announcing: 62
Robinson, 56. Robinson, 56. 64 Robinson, 57. 65 Robinson, 58. 63
52 There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair. There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July. . . There comes a time.66 The audience responded throughout King’s speech with words of encouragement and the crowd agreed to continue the boycott until the buses were integrated. To continue the protest a new organization was created, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). Robinson and the women of the WPC decided to merge their efforts with the MIA and took on many administrative roles in the MIA including newsletter editor, secretary, welfare secretary, and financial secretary. 67 Although the women did not take any direct leadership roles within the MIA, Robinson and the members of the WPC knew how important their roles were. WPC member Johnnie Carr recalled, When all the dust settled the women were there when it cleared. They were there in the positions to hold the thing [MIA] together. We took the position that if anything comes up, all you have to do is whistle and the men will be there. They’d come. But the little day-to-day things, taking care of the finances, things like that, the women still take care of that.68 Ensuring transportation to work, organizing voluntary carpools, controlling the finances and handling insurance for the MIA’s cars to help people avoid the buses was vital to the success of the boycott. Without such tasks, the black community might have been inclined to ride buses due to the hardship of avoiding them. Because of their involvement
Martin Luther King, Jr. “Address to the first Montgomery Improvement Association Mass Meeting” December 5, 1955 Martin Luther King Jr,And the Global Freedom Struggle Stanford. 67 Interview with Johnnie Carr. 68 Interview with Erna Dungee Allen, 523.
53 in the MIA, the women of the WPC were able to keep the boycott going successfully for over a year. During the initial months of the boycott, the resilience of the boycott was tested as the MIA encountered much resistance from the white community and City Commissioners over the massive protest. The White Citizens Council (WCC), a group of white men, predominantly businessmen, swelled in membership, with new members joining everyday, including the city’s police commissioner Clyde Sellers. Shortly after joining the WCC, Sellers announced on television that 85 to 90 percent of the boycotters wanted to return to the buses, if it were not for the boycott leaders who “would attack boycotters or anybody who advocated going back to the bus again without some satisfactory chances in the system.” One of the City Commissioners additionally announced that a number of businessmen were “going to lay off Negro employees who were being used as NAACP instruments in this boycott.” 69 The boycott faced additional problems when blacks were arrested for riding in a car with too many passengers, or were arrested for minor traffic violations. Other boycotters faced violence, house bombs, and rotten tomatoes, eggs and potatoes thrown at them.70 The Browder Case As Montgomery’s City Commissioners and White Citizens Council continued to challenge the boycott through the media, violence and other forms of intimidation, King and the MIA decided that for the boycott officially to end they would need a legal 69 70
Robinson, 116. Robinson, 125.
54 precedent. Although many blacks were reluctant to launch a court case to change a system because it could be a slow process with violent repercussions from the white community throughout the process, the MIA found strength in the Brown decision. Fred Gray, on behalf of the NAACP, launched a precedent-making court case, similar to Brown v. Board to challenge the constitutionality of segregated seating on buses. For a lawsuit to be successful, Gray would have to file a federal civil suit, which did not include Parks because her case was still a matter for the local criminal courts.71 Robinson and the WPC found, organized, and investigated the plaintiffs for the case and on February 1, 1956, Gray filed Browder v. Gayle, a suit on behalf of five black women who had experienced some form of racial discrimination on local buses. Amelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Jeanetta Reese, Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith were listed as plaintiffs and the City Commissioners, Police Chief Ruppenthal, the bus company and two drivers were listed as defendants. Gray charged the defendants with “a conspiracy to interfere with the civil and constitutional rights of the Negro citizens” of Montgomery by employing “force, threats, violence, intimidation, and harassment.”72 These tactics were used to prevent the community from using public transportation, therefore depriving them of their rights under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The suit demanded the prevention of the defendants from causing such interference in the future, define the legal rights of the parties involved and “brand the interference cited above as a
Thomas J. Gilliam “The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-1956.” In The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow, 191-302. Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 262. 72 Browder vs. Gayle, petition of suit.
55 violation of the Fourteenth Amendment” making Montgomery’s City Code “null and void.”73 The Browder lawsuit was met with much resistance by the WCC. In February 1956 the City Commissioners and WCC demanded that the grand jury investigate the legality of the boycott claiming that the MIA violated an Alabama law that read: Two or more persons who, without a just cause or legal excuse for so doing, enter into any combination, conspiracy, agreement, arrangement, or understanding for the purpose of hindering, delaying, or preventing any persons, firms, corporations, or association of persons from carrying on any lawful business, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.74 After four months of investigation the MIA was found guilty of prohibiting the conduct of business and over one hundred leaders were arrested, including Robinson. Although meant to end the boycott, this action only strengthened the boycott and the MIA saw an increase in donations from across the country to free MIA leaders on $300 bond.75 During a recess of the MIA trial in November 1956 a member of the Associated Press handed King a note that read: “The United States Supreme Court today affirmed a decision of a special three-judge panel in declaring Alabama’s state and local laws requiring segregation on buses unconstitutional. The Supreme Court acted without listening to any argument; it simply said ‘the motion to affirm is granted and the Judgment is affirmed.’”76 News of the decision spread quickly. Robinson remembered, “after the verdict sank in, the initial outbursts subsided, tears were wiped away, voices
Browder vs. Gayle, petition of suit. Alabama State Code, Title L4, Section 54. 75 Robinson, 152. 76 Christopher Coleman “Social Movements and Social-Change Litigation: Synergy in the Montgomery Bus Protest” Law and Social Inquiry 30 (Autumn, 2005), 664. 74
56 grew calm. In a few minutes the outward emotions disappeared, to be replaced by a prayerful attitude. Silent prayers of thanksgiving were uttered. A calm serenity spread over most faces.”77 Although King announced that the black community would return to the buses whenever the Supreme Court’s order was delivered to Montgomery, he knew that there was a long road ahead to achieve equality. Just as whites had resisted school integration throughout the South and in many parts of the North, bus integration was a difficult step for many whites and blacks alike. Although both races were timid at first to ride the buses, once they boarded there was a “quiet dignity” among most riders as the drivers were happy to get their jobs back and citizens reflected on the “sophistication of the boycott.”78 King reflected, “it must have appeared to many people that our struggle in Montgomery was over. Actually, the most difficult state of crisis had just begun.”79 Despite the successful boycott and legal case, historians and scholars continue to disagree on the importance of the boycott in bringing about an end to bus segregation. Proponents of the “legal-change” thesis such as Thurgood Marshall claimed that litigation and federal courts alone ended bus segregation: “All that walking for nothing. They might as well have waited for the court decision.”80 Another legal scholar argues that the violence was minimal and integration more seamless than school integration because the combined efforts of the boycott and the Browder case reinforced each other. The boycott produced “a ‘dynamic stalemate’ between Montgomery Blacks and city
Robinson, 164. Robinson, 167. 79 Martin Luther King and Clayborne Carson. Stride Toward Freedom: the Montgomery Story (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010), 245. 80 Coleman, 664. 78
57 officials” when blacks declared they would not patron the buses until they were integrated and white city officials hiding behind the law.81 Under either school of thought, it is clear that the women of the WPC were the driving force behind both the boycott and the landmark case ending bus segregation. For Robinson, “The boycott [is] the most beautiful memory that all of us who participated will carry to our final resting place. . . [people] have the right to know about the struggle of their forebears, in helping to make this country beautiful for all its people.”82 While passengers on city buses were integrated after the Supreme Court handed down its decision, the fight for civil rights continued in Montgomery, the South and throughout most of the country. For Robinson, the WPC and many teachers at Alabama State College the struggle for civil rights and the bus boycott continued to affect them personally and professionally. A history professor who documented the boycott for posterity was terminated from his job and asked to leave the city in 1959 by state officials. Although campus president Dr. Trenholm kept his job, he lost his role as a teacher evaluator. Tensions escalated in 1960 when student protesters were arrested for a sit-in at the college. In protest of their arrests a large number of faculty, Robinson and Burks included, resigned on the last day of school. After their resignations, each teacher was offered a job over the telephone that night at other colleges with higher salaries, and better opportunities for advancement.83 With the resignations of several WPC members at Alabama College, the WPC ended and many women joined the MIA (which continues 81
Coleman 665. Robinson, 11. 83 Robinson, 170. 82
58 to this day) and other activist organizations. Despite the hardships faced after the boycott, because of Robinson and the WPC “the city enjoys public bus service on an integrated basis, as if the system had always been that way.”84
CHAPTER FOUR TEACHING THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT Historical Thinking From the 1960s through today, the teaching of the civil rights movement has emphasized the defiant heroes who strongly and selflessly resisted oppression. Although it is important to understand how Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks influenced the movement, simply teaching about a few figureheads of a movement that relied on the participation of large numbers of everyday people, neglects the complex social, economic and political choices African Americans had to make to have a successful boycott. Decisions about possibly losing one’s job, losing any political capital or facing violence or arrest. Without teaching these complexities students do not learn to think critically about the development and complication of the movement. Most students enter their eleventh grade United States history classroom knowing the names and achievements of King and Parks and most can additionally connect the Montgomery bus boycott to both individuals—Parks who started the movement with her refusal to give up her seat to a white man and King who led the boycott to success through nonviolent resistance. In American culture and memory, these two individuals remain part of the American mainstream through Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the ubiquitous use of Rosa Parks’ image sitting quietly in a bus. They are both important individuals in American history. Equally important is teaching students the historical context of the boycott that catapulted the two individuals to fame and prominence. Parks
60 was not just “tired” and thus refused to move from her seat. Additionally, King did not singularly initiate and then lead the boycott without opposition. Encouraging students to accept an incomplete story does a disservice to these two individuals who then seem to have appeared out of thin air, and fails to encourage the students to ask the question “why?”. To address these weaknesses, teachers can include information on historical individuals typically not in their textbook or listed in the standards. This encourages students to view history as complex, and that a variety of different people have a stake in history, despite the fact that not all people are, or can be represented. Additionally, teaching a movement or era in an in-depth manner allows students to learn how to question other eras or moments in history. When students are exposed to this way of learning history once, they learn the need to question other histories, and to research protests, individuals, groups or cultural movements not commonly included in the curriculum that impacted the American past as whole. Teaching with Historical Documents and Images History textbooks are excellent sources for students to gain fundamental history knowledge. They have charts, maps, graphs, biographical asides and concisely teach major historical events. However, they do not encourage or teach students how to think historically. They simply tell students the facts as they are. Textbooks rarely cite their sources, primary materials are pushed to the side, or bottom of the text (no man’s land for a typical high school student), and the text speaks from an “omniscient third-person. No visible author confronts the reader; instead, a corporate author speaks form a position of
61 transcendence, a position of knowing from on high.”1 Remembering endless dates, names of people, or places is what most adults remember about their history classes. At Back to School Night, history teachers might hear endlessly from parents about how they were horrible in their high school history class because they have a bad memory. Textbook-only teaching cultivates the preconceived notion that history equates to memorization. There is another way. As historians already know, a written history is only as good as the sources utilized. The same is true of the high school history teacher who needs to actively seek and teach information not included in a standard textbook. Standardized testing in history classes has taught students that it is more important to remember facts and answer knowledge-based questions than to ask questions and conduct research to answer higher-level analytical questions. When students confront a primary source for the first time. After giving students a primary document to read they will most likely respond by giving additional background to the document, telling the teacher about the author or the specific people and/or places referenced in the document. The problem rests with students they use their current understanding and thought processes to assess a real past that is based on a different set of preconceptions.2 Students learn to reveal what they know about the document to the teacher, expecting the teacher to be singularly impressed, without questioning the document to determine the importance of context.
Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of teaching the Past (Philadelphia, Temple University Press: 2001), 13. 2 Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of teaching the Past (Philadelphia, Temple University Press: 2001), 10.
62 This skill of teaching students how to ask questions that uncover historical context should not only be used when presented with documents, but also with the actions of individuals throughout history. After teaching the story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott students often acknowledge that what Parks did was extraordinary, however, most students believe that they would have had the same courage as Parks. When I teach this unit to eleventh grade United States history students, I ask them about the degree of courage they believe they would have in the same historical situation. Many students claimed that they would resist the bus driver’s request to move because of their knowledge of the Constitution and their hatred of discrimination. They argued that the bus regulations “weren’t fair,” “violated the 14th amendment,” or was simply “bad business” on the part of the bus company. Despite the students’ knowledge about what is, or should be right and wrong, students lack critical thinking about why those bus regulations exist, or why most individuals in Montgomery until the 1950s did not resist bus codes. When presented with Parks’ story as an introductory lesson on the civil rights movement, or the boycott itself, students should be encouraged to respond with additional questions before drawing the conclusion that they would act similarly: Why was Parks expected to give up her seat? Why did Parks refuse to give up her seat? Why was that an extraordinary task at the time? If there were people prior to Parks who did the same thing why are they not remembered? When students are taught that history is a never-ending activity of asking questions and , they will be able to adequately evaluate history.
63 Students learn in their history classes that they are like the historical individuals of the past. This is a technique used by elementary school teachers to engage a younger audience to an appreciation for the past. However, as initially useful as this method is, for historian Carlo Ginzburg it is the bane of a future historian: The historian’s task is just the opposite of what most of us were taught to believe. He must destroy our false sense of proximity to people of the past because they come from societies very different from our own. The more we discover about these people’s mental universes, the more we should be shocked by the cultural distance that separates us from them.3 Ginzburg’s study on the life of a miller named Minocchio who was tried, and then burned at the stake, is an example of historical thinking that should be encouraged in every history classroom. Ginzburg argues that Minocchio is a man similar to many men today. Yet, what he read, his job, the activities of his children and major religious events shaped Minocchio’s conceptualization of his own society. Students today, or even modern historians, can only hypothesize about the past. However, students need to place some distance between themselves and the individuals of the past. As Ginzburg argues, they need to ask questions and research history to conceptualize the era or person in question. Taking the example of Rosa Parks’ act of resistance, my students simply do not grasp that Rosa Parks lived in a different time, place and set of historical circumstances than they presently do. By encouraging students to keep some historical distance, they are able to more accurately discern their own historical circumstances and why they could act in a certain way, and how in Parks’ historical circumstances, her actions were courageous.
Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), xxiii.
64 Paradoxically, students need to connect personally with history, relate to the individuals studied, but simultaneously recognize that they live in a different era and geographic space that cannot be realistically recreated, or understood in present-day terms. This is the constant struggle for both the student and scholar of history. In an era of teenage self-importance, “interest in the past is neither innate nor automatic. If students are to learn about—or from—past occurrences, they must have personal reasons for doing so.”4 Lessons designed for students to engage in historical imagination have a place in history pedagogy, and are rooted in historical documentation. Evidence suggests that learners who develop and practice habits of cognitively and emotionally engaging in primary sources perform better whether the domain is language arts, social studies, or science, and whether the grade level is upper elementary or high school.5 Having students contemplate word or thought bubbles for individuals in photographs, pretending to be the historical individual in a photograph, or organize events depicted in primary sources based on order of importance for a movement, can encourage students to conceptualize history. These strategies, found in the Model Lesson Plans section of the Appendix under Document Strategies allow students to actively enter into the history in question. Although these lessons in the Appendix may encourage presentism by suggesting that students can imagine how people in the past thought and behaved based on their own experiences, it is an important starting point when introducing a lesson, document, event or historical concept. This strategy allows the student to start to observe 4
Nancy Comstock Webster Miller and Pamela Hronek, et, al. Doorways to Thinking: Decision-Making Episodes for the Study of History and the Humanities vol 1 (Tucson, Arizona: Zephyr Press, 1995), 2. 5 Lauren B. Goldenberg and Bill Tally “Fostering Historical Thinking with Digitized Primary Sources” in International Society for Technology in Education (2005), 1
65 basic elements of a document of photograph. They are encouraged to recognize the diction in a speech, the facial expressions of individuals in a photograph, what is happening in the background and to draw conclusions based on the details that they notice. The next step is to encourage students to place those observations in the historical context of the era. Connecting levels of questions (Historical Analysis Tools) promotes students to incorporate in-depth historical thinking. The levels of questioning include: Level one, or basic, questioning to level three, or personal beliefs, is the first step in the historical process, leading to level two, or higher level questioning. One effective strategy of fostering historical imagination outlined by Sam Wineburg is “simulating an interpsychic process intrapsychically,” or mock reading.6 Before reading the primary document, students find a partner and read the document in tandem. This activity can be done with any document found in the Historical Primary Sources section of the Appendix. One individual reads the document verbatim, while the other individual plays the role of the “mock reader,” one who notes the rhetorical devices in the document and interprets the speech in their own vernacular. This encourages the students to contemplate the author’s intentions within the document and the reaction of the possible audience. In this activity students connect with the historical past, but also bring in their present emotions, by imagining how the author and audience felt. This is a good place to start because it encourages students to use sources beyond the textbook, give voices to historical documents and connect with the past.
Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of teaching the Past (Philadelphia, Temple University Press: 2001), 70.
66 To move beyond modern understanding, students must learn how to ask the right historical questions. The second step in the historical process is to encourage the students to ask themselves questions about an historical source. In a classroom other than most science classes, it is not natural for a student to ask themselves a series of questions and go about answering them with additional research. This method is often not used in social science classrooms as it could have an adverse effect on the standardized test results when students are expected to quickly answer historical questions with automatic responses. In many history classes, students answering lower level knowledge-based questions posed by the teacher to check that students read, or completed their homework. In historical imagination activities, the teacher’s role becomes more active. They need to push the students to critically think about the choices they made in their historical reenactment, thought bubble activity or mock reading—“Why did you choose those words, say it that way, or respond with that face?” To discover the answers students in all likelihood will need to conduct additional research to back up their assertions. Here, a short lesson on historical imagination molds into one on research skills, and the coupling of evidence and analysis. Students do not naturally have the ability to ask good historical questions. Students need to be taught how to ask types of historically and contextually-based questions such as what was occurring historically to influence an individual, group or event. To model how to ask historical questions about primary sources, it is useful for a teacher to connect a variety of documents to a few guiding questions. The Appendix includes a set of guiding questions associated with photographs, interviews, and primary
67 sources related to the Montgomery bus boycott (Document Guiding Questions, Historical Resource). The questions and documents are labeled by numbers, which will allow students and teachers to see documents organized by thematic, or guiding questions. This encourages students to organize documents together, to see how one historical event can be shown from a variety of different contexts (such as social, economic or political) or point of views. This additionally extends the students understanding of historical documents by connecting it with additional evidence. Web-Based Historical Research Modern day researching skills require students to become familiar with online resources. However, there is so much historical information available on the World Wide Web; when asked to locate a primary source, students often find themselves overwhelmed, ultimately resorting to a basic “Google” search. After typing in a phrase such as “primary source about the Montgomery bus boycott” students are inclined to choose the first link that appears and use the first source they find on that website. This method of research is also used to find an image, by making the simple modification to an “image” search. I find that students do this quite often on research-based assignments with the result that my students typically include the same documents in their research, despite differences in research topics or questions. As students progress in their education, building historical research skills will give them the ability to quickly distinguish an effective and credible website from a less reliable source.
68 More fundamentally, students struggle with discerning the difference between primary and secondary sources. After eleven years of school, many students might have the ability to tell a teacher that a primary source is a source produced at the specific time period in question, or an account produced by someone who was a historical participant or observer. However, students struggle when tasked with finding their own primary sources, or a variety of different types of primary sources or artifacts, as well as interpreting the source’s significance. The purpose of the Web Quest (Lesson Plans), is to have students practice their online primary source researching skills, using credible and reliable websites as models. Each of the websites on the web quest is an effective model of web-based primary source research. Students can peruse these sites to gain an idea of what makes a reliable, credible website. Each website provides students and teachers with easy access to a variety of newspaper articles, photographs, political cartoons, and interviews with limited commercial advertisements. Many of the sites include an easy-to-use search engine, easily identifiable “primary source” sections, and provides specific information for each primary source including creator and date. By guiding students to specific websites, they will be able to identify the specific characteristics of a good research-based website. Once students locate a credible source, based on the modeling done in the Web Quest, they need to be able to analyze the significance of the source. Often a student will include primary resources that do not match their research goals merely to reach the teacher’s research requirement. In order to teach students to select appropriate sources, Web Quest prompts them with specific questions such as: “What is the document about?”
69 “Who produced it?” “Why type of document is it?” These level one questions (Three Levels of Questioning worksheet, Historical Analysis Tools) encourage the students to engage in the act of “sourcing” a document, the basic form of historical analysis, something students do not think about doing. If a student’s primary resources do not match their research goals, they are inclined to include the document despite this fact, to reach the teacher’s research requirement. However, when forced to answer these questions repetitively, students will soon not need prompting by the teacher to ask these questions, they will become quick and automatic. Once students respond to the level one question, they need to answer several level two questions in order to gain a complete understanding of the document. These questions include: “Why do you think this document was produced?” “What is the goal of the document?” “How do you know?” These level two questions help the students to understand the specific historical circumstances that produced the document. Furthermore, the Web Quest asks students to justify their answers by drawing out specific information from their sources. This can include summarizing the text, quoting the text, or analyzing symbols found in images. Finding a source often leads the researcher to conduct more research. This is a concept lost on most students who want instant gratification. These level two questions remind students that they may need to conduct further research and to ask themselves additional questions. For example, if students find a photograph of a “church taxi” funded by the black churches in Montgomery to aid in avoiding buses, students should model the level of questioning to pose addition questions such as: Did the church encounter problems
70 with local authorities over this solution? How did the church fund these taxis? How did people know how to access this new form of transportation? Performance Assessments Yearly standardized tests emphasize students’ abilities in factual learning. In history, assessments test student knowledge of major causes, effects, names of key wars and specific individuals who shaped the history tested. Teachers may cover the entire curriculum needed to perform well on a standardized test given by the state or designed by the teacher. Yet, covering the information does not necessarily mean that students have learned, or understand history. An alternative to this type of routine fact-based testing are “performance assessments,” in which students do “or produce something.”7 Performance assessments prove to the teacher that the student now only knows what happened historically, they are able to research, analyze and evaluate historical significance. No longer do Americans live in an era dependent on memorization. Long gone are the days of memorizing phone numbers and important dates. The same is applied to history. With a few keystrokes on a phone, iPad or computer, one can pull up a quick reference giving as much historical detail as needed or wanted. Thinking like a historian, however, requires students to know how to research and evaluate sources, see the big picture and place a value on decisions of the past. Several elements of the Appendix provide methods for teaching students to analyze the historical big picture (Document-Based Question and Student Guide, Document Guiding Questions, Historical 7
Jere Brophy ed. Advances in Research on Teaching: Teaching and Learning History vol. 6, (Greenwich, Connecticut: Jai Press, Inc, 1996), 222
71 Analysis Tools). As Sam Wineburg states, “Historians know . . . how to be a citizen in a cacophonous democracy.”8 Although not deeply connected with standardized testing skills, performance assessments encourage a historical skill base and ultimately should result in deeper memorization as students actually do something with the history they learn. These are skills that they will carry with them the rest of their civic lives. An overarching goal of history education is for students to find their own historical artifacts, or primary sources, connect those sources to a variety of other historical events and people, and interpret the specific causes and effects of that primary source. Teaching researching skills in a history classroom is not only part of the Common Core Standards, it is also a skill students can transfer to other aspects of their civic lives. These skills, when used later in life, can help adults find reputable sources to determine how to vote, influence legislation, and evaluate information. Students today have a previously unknown level of access to primary sources through websites run by the Library of Congress, National Archives, countless universities, nonprofits, presidential websites and museums that make pictures, census data, court records and personal papers available to students with the click of the mouse. The problem, outlined in the previous section, “Web-Based Historical Research,” is how to find sources appropriate for a given historical problem or question. After learning how to conduct historical primary source research in a computer lab with the aid of the teacher, students
Peter Carlson “Interview: Sam Wineburg, Critic of History Education” in American History (December 2011) 28-29, 29.
72 are able to attempt to complete their own primary source research individually or in small groups. Research outside of the classroom using these historical databases allows the student to think outside of the textbook, connect with real voices of the past and consider the complexity of the lives of individuals who lived through different times. Additionally, education in general asks students largely to learn how to think critically and to do so independently. By completing a historical project, such as the Museum Project (Appendix), in which students choose their own primary documents to create a narrative about an event, students “own” a part of history and are able to connect with it historically. However, asking students simply to gather primary sources will create a mess for a teacher to grade, most accurately because students have a tendency to print out the first photograph, political cartoon or speech that Google responded with. A popular tool for performance-based assessments in history is the Document Based Question (DBQ), (Appendix: Model Lesson Plans). This is a tool that started in Advanced Placement history classes and has been adapted to the general history classroom. The DBQ includes a high-level thinking question and a variety of documents. Students are tasked with answering the question using a variety of the documents in their answer as evidence. Students are additionally graded on their use of information not presented in the documents. This is most often done as a summative assessment after students have studied a unit or event and been exposed to a variety of primary source materials from that era and responded to historical questions.
73 The flexibility of the DBQ method – it can be answered in a variety of ways – gives the students the optimum chance to excel. The DBQ found in the Appendix poses the historical question, “Was the Montgomery bus boycott successful?” and allows students to answer it in terms of economic, political and social success; by focusing on the events prior to the boycott; focusing on religious or even gender influences on the event. With a DBQ students prove what they know and requires them to analyze primary documents and group events and documents together to present a greater meaning. Practicing evaluating information in a DBQ format is another way to practice not only historical thinking, but also critical thinking-the ability to evaluate information and problem solve independently. Conclusion History is not simply about retaining information. History is about evaluation, argument, analysis, and inquiry. Teaching history one era at a time, without the use of historical questioning or research is simply not teaching history, it is teaching information. History is a skill-based discipline that instructs students on how to process, find and evaluate information about historical people, eras and events. Under current California content history standards teachers find themselves rushed to present historical information, often neglecting the overarching critical thinking goals of history. Teaching the Montgomery bus boycott in depth by using the methods presented in this project, allows the students to both learn historical material and exercise historical thinking skills. Educational scholar Daniel Wick argues for teachers to remember depth, not necessarily
74 breadth in their pedagogy: “It is impossible for a student to reason critically concerning something about which he knows nothing.”9 The role of the history educator is an important one. As Raymond Nickerson argues, “To fail to develop one’s potential in [critical thinking] is to preclude the full expression of one’s humanity.”10 Teaching writing, reading, and research skills are not the sole property of language arts educators just as education and critical thinking does not stop once one graduates. American citizens have the civic obligation to evaluate the past and present in order to make decisions about the future. As teachers in classrooms across the country witness on a daily basis, some students have the natural ability to question history or the facts presented to them. However, teachers cannot rely on students to learn how to develop questions individually. The role of the history educator is to model how to ask the right historical questions, present their students with a variety of primary documents that offer differing perspectives and teach students how to do the same independently. When these skills are cultivated in classrooms students will have the ability to find a deeper meaning and appreciation for history and its importance in American society.
Daniel Wick, “In Defense of Knowledge: An Intellectual Framework for General Education.” in Change: The Magazine for Higher Learning vol. 13(6) 1981, 8-9. 10 Raymond S. Nickerson, “Why Teach Thinking?” in Teaching Thinking Skills: Theory and Practice, ed. Joan Boykoff Baron and Robert J. Sternberg, (New York: W.H. Freeman and Co, 1987), 32.
75 APPENDIX A. TEACHING APPLICATION Forward This resource Appendix is meant to be used in social studies classrooms for grades 7-12. Parts of the Appendix apply to California History-Social Science Content Standards: Kindergarten K.6.1; Third grade 3.4.6; Eleventh grade 11.10; Twelfth grade 12.5.4. The chief purpose of this Appendix is to help teachers present a thorough history of the causes of the Montgomery bus boycott, and to teach students to analyze historical cause and effect. Included in this Appendix are: Model lesson plans, primary sources (photographs and documents), guiding questions for the sources, oral history interviews with guiding questions, a culminating research project and a document-based question essay with a teacher’s and a student’s guide. To help the teacher gain additional background knowledge on the subject of the Montgomery bus boycott there is a background essay and two historical reference tables on terms and key individuals. The purpose of this Appendix is to model for teachers how to teach students to take an indepth look at an historical event. The focus of the Appendix is engaging students in asking and answering historically based critical thinking questions. Major historical events like the Montgomery bus boycott do not just automatically occur. When teaching the civil rights movement it is important for students to understand that lacking basic rights was not enough for a community of people to organize a mass protest. In order to understand the importance of major historical events students need to understand the myriad factors that aided in mass mobilization including: why black citizens of Montgomery were ready for a boycott in 1955, why Rosa Parks garnered mass attention after her arrest, why and how the boycott lasted for over a year. Gaining a thorough understanding of historical causation is a skill that once mastered with this unit, students can apply to future history lessons. There are a variety of ways to scaffold the activities found in this Appendix. If students do not have much practice with primary source analysis, specific tools such as “SOAPS,” and the “Analysis Worksheets” should be used with students prior to asking students to engage in one of the “Document Strategies/Activities.” These analysis worksheets ask the student to analyze small details about a source that aid in student comprehension and get the student to become familiar with the source. If a class is advanced, the teacher can have the students engage in one of the suggested strategies or activities. These are designed for the student to connect with the period, events, and people involved. Many activities ask the students to imagine what it would be like to live in that period and to have first-hand experience of the events studied. These activities ask the students to have some historical imagination. This is effective in gaining a student’s interest in the subject. However, a student should have a thorough knowledge of the subject prior to these activities. Without background knowledge a student may not take the activity seriously, or know how to imagine the source as it existed when it was produced.
Primary sources are windows into the past. In order to gain an in-depth perspective on the source it is important for students to learn how to analyze a variety of sources. This Appendix includes images, documents, and interviews. The document worksheets and activities help the student engage with the source. In order to teach the students to think critically about the source, the teacher should next ask the students one of the guiding questions associated with the source. These guiding questions act as a model for asking historically based critical thinking questions. As the teacher progresses into the critical thinking questions, they should ask the students to analyze two or three sources together, with the same question. This strategy will help students see a variety of historical perspectives on the same event and reveal the complexity of the movement. After enough practice, students should be able to ask their own level two questions (from the “Three Levels of Questioning Guide”). The two summative assessments in the binder, the DBQ and Museum Activity assess student understanding of the unit, and their primary source analysis skills. The museum project assesses a student’s ability to research independently and analyze primary sources they gather. By completing a historical project, such as the Museum Project in which students choose their own primary documents to create a narrative about an event, students “own” a part of history and are able to connect with it on a higher, historical level. The flexibility of the DBQ method – it can be answered in a variety of ways – gives the students the optimum chance to excel. The DBQ found in the Appendix poses the historical question, “Was the Montgomery bus boycott successful?” and allows students to answer it in terms of economic, political and social success; by focusing on the events prior to the boycott; focusing on religious or even gender influences on the event. With a DBQ students prove what they know and requires them to analyze primary documents and group events and documents together to present a greater meaning. Practicing evaluating information in a DBQ format is another way to practice not only historical thinking, but also critical thinking-the ability to evaluate information and problem solve independently. The overall goal of this Appendix is to make teaching document analysis and the Montgomery bus boycott more accessible to teachers. Please use the whole Appendix, or just bits and pieces. Use what works for your students and for you as a teacher.
Model Lesson Plans Web Quest Common Core Standard Research 7 Student Research Web-Quest—Use the following websites for your Web Quest http://www.montgomeryboycott.com/ http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/ http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/eyesontheprize/index.html http://encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Home.jsp http://www.loc.gov/index.html http://www.sites.si.edu/exhibitions/381.pdf Please find one primary document produced by the Women’s Political Council. Print it out, and attach it to this worksheet. 1. Describe this document. What is this document about? Who produced it? What type of document is it?
2. Why do you think this document was produced? What is the goal of the document? How do you know?
Please find one primary document relating to Rosa Parks. Print it out, and attach it to this worksheet. 3. Describe this document. What is this document about? Who produced it? What type of document is it?
4. Why do you think this document was produced? What is the goal of the document? How do you know?
78 Please find one primary document relating to the Montgomery Improvement Association (1955-1956). Print it out, and attach it to this worksheet. 5. Describe this document. What is this document about? Who produced it? What type of document is it?
6. Why do you think this document was produced? What is the goal of the document? How do you know?
Please find one primary document relating to the Browder v. Gayle case. Print it out, and attach it to this worksheet. 7. Describe this document. What is this document about? Who produced it? What type of document is it?
8. Why do you think this document was produced? What is the goal of the document? How do you know?
Activities/Lessons for Images Common Core Standard Key Ideas and Details #1 1. Thought/Word Bubbles a. Show the students an image with one individual, or a group of individuals b. If teacher is introducing someone new, they can have the students place word or thoughts into the individuals in the images without any background knowledge. This will encourage the students critically to think about the image and the people in it. Where are they? What are they doing? Why are they doing this? How do they feel about what is happening in the picture? c. The teacher can also show the image after teaching a concept or an event and have the students place words or thoughts into the historical individuals based on their new knowledge. Students can also complete the activity twice—once prior to the lesson, and once after. This will show the teacher what the students learned about the topic, and again, encourage them critically to think about the people in the photographs. The following activities work on students building their prior knowledge in the subject area while also teaching students to think historically. Teachers can either frontload students with information from the unit (by using the PowerPoint, Interviews, Boycott Essay, Documents and/or Reference Terms), or teachers can give the students historical information after the lesson/activity. Giving students the information afterward will give students a choice to compare their analysis with the teacher’s analysis. This can be effective modeling as the students can review their historical though processes. It is recommended to have a combination of the methods. 2. Chronological Order a. Students should be given a variety of images, at least five. This is a good lesson for the end of the unit or after teaching an event. Instruct the students to place the photographs in chronological order. This should be done in a group so that students can actively discuss their decisions. Once the students believe they have placed the images in chronological order, they must explain what is going on the image, background information for the image and why they believe it is placed where it is. How do they know it goes before one event, and/or after another? 3. Newspaper/Newscast Reporter a. Hand out a different photograph to a group of students (2-4). Have one or two students in the group take on the role of a reporter (either from a newspaper, talk show or newscast), the other students can either be witnesses of what was going on in the photo, or individuals in the photo
80 themselves. The students must come up with interview questions and answers to the questions. There must be four level one questions (Who is participating, where are you? ), and answers, three level two questions (Why are you there, what do you hope to happen?) and answers and one level three question (What would you change about what is going on?) and answer. At the end of class students must project their image to the class and present their interview. 4. Historical Reenactment a. This activity can be done individually, or in a group up to five. b. Hand out a different photograph to the groups/individuals. The students must decide what happened immediately prior to, during and immediately after the photograph. Students will write three paragraphs for the photograph (what happened prior to the photo, during and after) with analysis on why they believe those assumptions to be true. After the writing, have the students act out the before, during and after of the photograph with appropriate dialog. c. For extra credit have students research what happened in the moments prior to, during and after the photograph.
Document Strategies/Activities Common Core Standard Key Ideas and Details #1 **Students should use information from their Web Quest, Background Essay, Images, Reference Terms and/or Interviews to aid them in these document analysis activities.** 1. SOAPS Have the students complete a SOAPS chart for a specific document 1. Speaker o Who is the speaker who produced this piece? What is the their background and why are they making the points they are making? Is there a bias in what was written? 2. Occasion o What is the Occasion? The time and place of the piece. What promoted the author to write this piece? What event led to its publication or development? It is particularly important that students understand the context that encouraged the writing to happen. 3. Audience o Who is the Audience? The group of readers to whom this piece is directed. The audience may be one person, a small group or a large group; it may be a certain person or a certain people. What assumptions can you make about the audience? Is it mixed racial/sex group? What social class? Political party? Who was the document created for? Are there any words or phrases that are unusual or different? Does the speaker use language the specific for a unique audience? Does he speaker evoke God? Nation? Liberty? History? Hell? Does the speaker allude to classical themes: the Fates, the Classical, Pericles, Caesar? Why is the speaker using this type of language? 4. Purpose o What is the purpose? The reason behind the text. In what ways does he convey this message? How would you perceive the speaker giving this speech? What is the document saying? What is the emotional state of the speaker? How is the speaker trying to spark a reaction in the audience? What words or phrases show the speaker’s tone? How is the document supposed to make you feel? This helps you examine the argument or its logic. 5. Subject o What is the subject of the document? The general topic, content, and ideas contained in the text. How do you know this? How has the subject been selected and presented? And presented by the author?
2. Order of Importance a. Gather a group of documents together that are related under the same topic ie: Civil Rights Movement, but represent different people or events. b. Have the students put the documents in order of importance, and explain why they chose that order—which event sparked the most controversy, which person is the stronger civil rights leader, which event contributed most for the need to have a campaign in Birmingham? etc. 3. Document Chronological Blackout a. Same as “Order of Importance” but black out dates on the documents and have the students hypothesize the date, which can be as specific as the teacher wants b. Have the students explain why they think that document is that date, and have the students place the documents in chronological order c. Discuss the documents and reveal the true information at the end of class. 4. Document Information Blackout a. Same as “Order of Importance” but black out key words on the documents and have the students hypothesize which event, person etc. the document is talking about. b. Have the students explain why they think that document is referring to that event or person. c. Discuss the documents and reveal the true information at the end of class. 5. Basic Document Analysis Questions a. List three things the author said that you think are important. b. Why do you think this document was written? c. What evidence in the document helps you know why it was written? Quote from the document. d. List two things the document tells you about life in the United States at the time it was written. e. Write a question to the author that is left unanswered by the document. 6. Response to Newspaper Articles a. After reading a newspaper article, have the students examine the basic information of the articles, and the point of view, if there is one. b. Have the students take on a specific persona, real or made-up. Based on that person, have the students write an opinion letter to the articles stating—how they feel about the article or focus of the article and why. This should be persuasive.
Montgomery Bus Boycott PowerPoint Presentation Slide 1 The Montgomery Bus Boycott Please take out a sheet of paper
Opener Question • “Three years later, in 1952, a white bus driver and a Negro man exchanged words over the dime the passenger put into the slot. The Negro man, Brooks, was not afraid, for he had been drinking. He never quavered when the driver abused him with words and accused him of not putting the money into the meter box of the bus. Instead, he stood his ground and disputed the driver. The drink gave him confidence to stand there, and to sit down and to talk back in his own defense. What followed was never explained fully, but the driver called the police, and when the police came they shot and killed Brooks as he got off the bus.” (Robinson, 21) • Why would it take several decades of abuse to organize a boycott? What do you think are obstacles to launching a boycott? How do you overcome those obstacles?
Conditions for a Boycott • Montgomery had the most severe bus laws – Blacks pay up front, get off, get on in the back – Drivers had the authority to call police to arrest passengers at will
• Reports of drivers leaving black passengers once they paid, not stopping to pick them up or dropping them off correctly
84 Slide 4
The Women’s Political Council • Formed in 1947 at Alabama State College by Mary Fair Burks • 1950 Taken over by Jo Ann Robinson • Sent letters to bus companies, the mayor, NAACP and local black men’s political organizations • Argued for a boycott in 1953, was the first group to organize a boycott after Parks’ arrest
Claudette Colvin • Student • Worked on an essay on “The Injustice of Discrimination” on the day she was arrested for refusing to move for a white man. • "It's my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it's my constitutional right!" • Left the bus “kicking and clawing.”
Slide 6 NAACP • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People • E.D. Nixon is president of the Montgomery Chapter – Hesitant to launch a boycott because of the cost in political capital • Rosa Parks was director of the Youth Council – Claudette Colvin was a member of the Youth Council
85 Slide 7
E. D. Nixon •
The case of Louise Smith. I found her daddy in front of the shack, barefoot, drunk. Always drunk. Couldn’t use her. In that year’s second case, the girl, very brilliant but she’d had an illegitimate baby. Couldn’t use her. The last case before Rosa was the daughter of a preacher who headed a reform school for years. My interview of her convinced me that she wouldn’t stand up to pressure. She were even afraid of me. When Rosa Parks was arrested, I thought ‘this is it!’ ‘Cause she’s morally clean, she’s reliable, nobody had nothing on her, she had the courage of her convictions.
•  E. D. Nixon Interview by Steven Millner July 27, 1977 in The Walking City: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, ed. David Garrow (Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1989), 546.
Rosa Parks • • • •
Seamstress Trained in non violent protest Active member of the NAACP Parks was arrested for “refusing to obey orders of [a] bus driver.” • “If you don’t stand up, I’m going to call the police and have you arrested.” “You may do that,” • “But that isn’t true,” Mrs. Parks reflected. “I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. . . . No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
Slide 9 The Boycott • • • • •
Montgomery Improvement Association – Headed by Martin Luther King, Jr. Walked Took Taxis Organized carpools Challenges to the boycott – Montgomery police called the boycott illegal and threatened arrests – Many individuals lost their car insurance
Document Based Question Common Core Standard Writing #1: Instructions: Please answer the following question using at least 5 documents, your knowledge of the civil rights movement, documents/images used throughout the unit and information from at least 3 different oral histories. To cite a document, please write the letter the document represents next to its reference. For example—“Sit ins were a major part of achievement in the civil rights movement” (A). Question: Was the Montgomery bus boycott successful? Document A—Photo by Don Cravens Courtesy Time Life. Pictures/Getty Images. 1956.
Document B—Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama
Document C—Code of the City of Montgomery, Alabama. Charlottesville: Michie City Publishing Co., 1952. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama
Document D— Clayborne Carson, et al, eds., The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 44-45 Honorable Mayor W. Gayle, City Hall, Montgomery, Alabama Dear Sir: . . . There were several things the Council asked for: 1. A city law that would make it possible for Negroes to sit from back toward front, and whites from front toward back until all the seats are taken. 2. That Negroes not be asked or forced to pay fare at front and go to the rear of the bus to enter. 3. That busses stop at every corner in residential sections occupied by Negroes as they do in communities where whites reside. . . . Mayor Gayle, three-fourths of the riders of these public conveyances are Negroes. If Negroes did not patronize them, they could not possibly operate. More and more of our people are already arranging with neighbors and friends to ride to keep from being insulted and humiliated by bus drivers. There has been talk from twenty-five or more local organizations of planning a city-wide boycott of busses. We, sir, do not feel that forceful measures are necessary in bargaining for a convenience which is right for all bus passengers.... Please consider this plea, and if possible, act favorably upon it, for even now plans are being made to ride less, or not at all, on our busses. We do not want this. Respectfully yours, The Women’s Political Council Jo Ann Robinson, President
Document E— Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery. MIA Meeting Notes.
This is a historic week because segregation on buses has now been declared unconstitutional. Within a few days the Supreme Court Mandate will reach Montgomery and you will be reboarding integrated buses. This places upon us all a tremendous responsibility of maintaining, in face of what could be some unpleasantness, a calm and loving dignity befitting good citizens and members of our Race. If there is violence in word or deed it must not be our people who commit it. ... 2. The whole bus is now for the use of all people. Take a vacant seat. 3. Pray for guidance and commit yourself to complete non-violence in word and action as you enter the bus. . . . 5. In all things observe ordinary rules of courtesy and good behavior. 6. Remember that this is not a victory for Negroes alone, but for all Montgomery and the South. Do not boast! Do not brag!
90 Document F— February 1956.. Montgomery County Archives.
Document G—Browder v. Gayle We cannot in good conscience perform our duty as judges by blindly following the precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson, supra, when our study leaves us in complete agreement with the Fourth Circuit's opinion n15 in Flemming v. South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., 224 F.2d 752, appeal dismissed April 23, 1956, 351 U.S. 901, 76 S.Ct. 692, that the separate but equal doctrine can no longer be safely followed as a correct statement of the law. In fact, we think that Plessy v. Ferguson has been impliedly, though not explicitly, overruled, and that, under the later decisions, there is now no rational basis upon which the separate but equal doctrine can be validly applied to public carrier transportation within the City of Montgomery and its police jurisdiction. The application of that doctrine cannot be justified as a proper execution of the state police power.
DBQ Teachers Guide Document A Document Information—Photograph shows the “mobile churches” that provided transportation to individuals boycotting the city bus lines. Many of the vehicles were provided by the church and paid for by church donations given around the world in support of the boycott. After local insurance companies refused to insure the church vehicles, Lloyds of London offer to insure the vehicles. Document B Document Information—Telegram sent to Judge Carter who oversaw the arraignments of several bus boycott leaders including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jo Ann Robinson and E. D. Nixon. Business leaders “Diamond Brothers” report to the presiding judge that they have cancelled plans for a new manufacturing building in Montgomery. This was a major economic loss for the city. Because of the tumult in Montgomery downtown businesses suffered economically and the city bus lines struggled. As a result, bus lines had to increase its fare after three months of boycotting. Document C Document Information—Montgomery city ordinances relating to riding the buses. Montgomery had some of the most severe bus codes in the United States. It was illegal for the integration of the races on most city buses in the South. However, in Montgomery, African Americans had to board the bus in the front, pay, exit the bus, then re-board the bus in the back entrance. Additionally, the bus driver had the same authority as a city police officer. Document D Document Information—Jo Ann Robinson led the Women’s Political Council, a group of mainly educated, professional black women in Montgomery. From 1950, Robinson’s goal with the WPC was to create better bus legislation. This is one of many letters Robinson and the WPC set to Mayor Gayle requesting African Americans better treatment on buses. This was two years prior to the start of the boycott. Document E Document Information—Shortly before the city buses were planned to integrate, Martin Luther King Jr., as leader of the Montgomery Improvement Association, made several suggestions for re-boarding the bus. Because the boycott lasted 381 days, King was wary about both the white and black reaction to bus integration. In these suggestions he requests that African Americans not boast or brag, but handle themselves graciously and with respect. As a non violent protestor, King hoped to avoid violence.
92 Document F Document Information—Arrest photo of Jo Ann Robinson, leader of the Women’s Political Council. Robinson, Rosa Parks, E. D. Nixon, Martin Luther King, Jr. and several other boycott leaders were arrested in February 1956 for leading an illegal boycott. In Montgomery, as part of anti-communist hysteria, it was illegal for an individual or group to boycott a public business. After the Montgomery Improvement Association became aware of several members’ warrants for arrest, the boycotters turned themselves in to the police department and were all shortly released on bail. Document G Document Information—The boycott finally ended after 381 days because the Supreme Court ruled on the Browder v. Gayle case brought by E. D. Nixon of the NAACP, Robinson and attorney Fred Gray. The five plaintiffs, including Claudette Colvin, challenged Montgomery’s bus segregation laws calling them “unconstitutional,” violating the 14th amendment which gives equal protection under the law. Although boycotters only demanded better treatment on the buses, paying and boarding the bus on the front and sitting first come first serve, back to front for African Americans, front to back for whites, the Browder case ordered for full integration of all public buses.
DBQ Student Support **Students may consider organizing their DBQ using economic, social and political as argument structures. ** Economic— 1. Pertaining to the production, distribution, and use of income, wealth, and commodities. a. Examples—class systems, how things are made, how people buy their products. 2. Involving or pertaining to one's personal resources of money: to give up a large house for economic reasons. a. Examples—choices when making or spending money. Where does one shop, what economic decision one makes and why? Social— 1. Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious. a. Examples—Organizations, affiliations, church 2. Of, pertaining to, connected with, or suited to polite or fashionable society: a social event. a. Events, marches, demonstrations 3. Living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in a community, rather than in isolation: People are social beings. Political— 1. Of, pertaining to, or connected with a political party: a political campaign. a. Example—Campaigns, political parties 2. Exercising or seeking power in the governmental or public affairs of a state, municipality, etc.: a political machine; a political boss. a. Seeking political office 3. Of, pertaining to, or involving the state or its government a. Laws, legislature, police, government 4. Having a definite policy or system of government: a political community. a. Examples—types of government, government change
Purpose: Buckets can be a helpful tool to organize and categorize documents. Using the “DBQ Student Support Sheet” as a guide, students can write the letter of the document in the bucket that is most appropriate for that document. This will help the students to organize their paragraphs and categorize their documents. Instructions: Which Documents Belong in Which Bucket? **Hint, you can place the same document in multiple buckets**
95 Museum Project Common Core Standard Research #7 Museums provide an excellent atmosphere for students to learn, explore and connect ideas together. Some museums are not that exciting—they are empty, only contain one type of media and people are not there to help guide them. This is not the case at the Civil Rights Movement Museum of California!!! There are many different medias to explore: Art, music, maps, dioramas, dolls, artifacts, documents, music etc… Your task is to create a museum exhibit on your assigned Civil Rights Movement MiniUnit. This museum must be: 1. Creative—Visuals are a key. There must be (if applicable) maps, posters, artwork, three-dimensional objects, props, music etc. All visuals, including maps, pictures, artwork, must have small captions below them explaining what they are. 2. Educational—must cover all aspects of your topic as well as expand upon them. Must be factually accurate 3. Experienced—one member of you group will act as the docent (a person who is a knowledgeable guide, esp. one who conducts visitors through a museum and delivers a commentary on the exhibitions). Each group member is responsible for preparing the 2-3 minute presentation the docent will give. There will be 2 additional minutes for the docent to answer questions, and classmates to explore the exhibit as they take notes. Museum Day Instructions: Set up: 5 minutes Travel: 4 minutes each station, 10 second passing period Clean up: 4 minutes Goals: 1. You, as a student, will learn about the Civil Rights Movement in a creative and dynamic way. 2. You will be prepared for the unit exam on _____________ 3. You will work positively in a collaborative working environment 4. Your creativity will extent to historical bounds. What will be produced/What you will be graded on: 1. The docent’s presentation—A speech will be typed up and submitted to the teacher. All of the terms will be highlighted. (2 COPIES PRINTED) 2. All of the elements on the rubric which must be present in the exhibit 3. A TYPED description of all of the artifacts using the “Artifact Sheet” on School Loop (you should have between 15-20, there could be multiple artifacts for one term) in your exhibit. Explain 1. The artifact (Fragment) 2. How the artifact connects to/represents the term (3-5 Detailed Sentences). (2 COPIES PRINTED). PLEASE NUMBER YOUR ARTIFACTS.
Artifacts can include Primary documents—newspaper articles, diaries, executive orders Images—paintings, cartoons, maps, photographs Music 3-D objects such as—dioramas, dolls, applicable toys etc… No secondary text sources Groups: Each group will be responsible for creating a museum exhibit for one of the following mini-units. All information from lecture/class must be included in the exhibit as well as evidence of further research 1. Early Civil Rights History a. 13th Amendment b. 14th Amendment c. 15th Amendment d. Plessey s. Ferguson e. Jim Crow 2. Desegregation in Schools a. Brown v. Board of Ed. b. Little Rock 9 c. James Meredith d. Busing Movement e. Charles Hamilton Houston 3. Organizations a. NAACP b. Urban League c. SCLC d. SNCC e. Black Panthers f. CORE 4. Leaders a. Thurgood Marshall b. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. c. Jo Ann Robinson d. James Farmer e. John Lewis f. Stokely Carmichael 5. Murder Cases a. Emmitt Till b. Medgar Evers c. 16th Baptist Church Bombing d. Freedom Summer (Mississippi Crisis)
97 6. Campaigns a. Montgomery Bus Boycott b. Albany Movement c. Birmingham Campaign d. Selma Campaign e. Freedom Summer 7. Events a. Greensboro Sit-Ins b. March on Washington c. Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party d. King’s assassination 8. Legislation a. Civil Rights Act of 1957 b. Executive Order 11063 c. Civil Rights Act 1964 d. Voting Rights Act 1965 e. Civil Rights Act 1968 9. Black Power a. Black Panther Party b. Malcolm X c. 1968 Summer Olympics d. Nation of Islam
Museum Project Rubric
70 points in the
1. The background poster is relevant 2. The exhibit is well researched 3. Includes a variety of items 4. Includes full coverage of the topic 5. Content is accurate and appropriate 6. Indicates an understanding of the content 7. Indicates the ability to synthesize information 8. Includes the required number of elements 9. Each group member appears to have participated 10. Docent’s speech is informative, thorough, and accurate.
6 Moder ately Strong
3 Moderat ely Weak
Artifact Sheet Name of Artifact
EX: Little Rock 9 telegram from a parent to President Eisenhower
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.
Civil Rights Term
Little Rock 9
How the Artifact Represents/Connects to the Civil Rights Movement This telegram shows the fear for the safety of the Little Rock 9. The Little Rock 9, nine students who chose to integrate the allwhite Central High School in Arkansas in 1957, were attacked by an angry mob as they attempted to enter the school. In a plea to the president to send troops to protect the students, this parent shows how she was not going to give up the hope of integration.
Montgomery Bus Boycott: Background Essay The modern civil rights movement in Alabama burst into public consciousness with an act of civil disobedience by Rosa Parks in Montgomery in 1955. After a 381-day boycott of city buses, the citizens of Montgomery achieved the victory of integrated public transportation. After the successful boycott, Martin Luther King, Jr. created and led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the modern civil rights movement had begun, transforming the state of Alabama and profoundly changing America forever. Montgomery had the most severe bus segregation laws in the United States. Many other Jim Crow cities had bus segregation laws where white passengers rode in the front and black passengers rode in the back; however, the seats were always filled first come-firstserve with white passengers filling in the seats from the front to the back, and black passengers filling in the bus from the back to the front. Additionally, Montgomery’s laws gave bus drivers the authority to issue arrests and required black passengers and required black passengers to pay at the front of the bus, leave, and then re-board at the back entrance. Black citizens of Montgomery had protested these laws as individuals for decades by refusing to give up their seat to a white passenger, refusing to re-board the bus in the back, or talk back to drivers. Many of these individuals who acted as individual protestors were arrested, beat up, physically removed from the bus and at times murdered in “self defense” by the driver. Prior to 1950 black citizens of Montgomery had yet to unite to fight these austere segregation laws. After professor Jo Ann Robinson at Alabama State College took over the Women’s Political Council (WPC), a political organization for black women, the fight to organize the black community to demand an end to the segregation laws started. Robinson and the WPC petitioned the City Council and the bus company to include more stops in black neighborhoods fill buses on a first-come-first-serve basis and end the harassment of bus drivers. After five years of unsuccessful meetings and unmet demands, Robinson teamed up with the Montgomery chapter president of the NAACP Edgar Daniel (E.D.) Nixon. Together Robinson and Nixon interviewed several women who had been arrested for protesting city buses by refusing to give up their seat for a white individual, people like Claudette Colvin, Aurelia Browder, Sue McDonald and Mary Louise Smith. Nixon and Robinson were hoping to find a unifying figure the citizens could rally around to launch a boycott. However, that figure did not arrive until December 1, 1955. On Thursday, December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress, boarded a city bus in Montgomery and sat one row behind the whites-only section. The first ten rows of city buses were exclusively reserved for white passengers. As the bus filled with passengers, the white driver ordered Parks to surrender her seat to a white man. Parks
101 refused. Her defiance prompted the driver to summon the police, who promptly arrested her for violating the orders of a city bus driver. Rosa Parks was a proud member of the NAACP, had attended training on non-violent resistance, and was a well-respected citizen of Montgomery. The night of her arrest Robinson and the WPC mimeographed hundreds of fliers indicating a boycott of city buses the following Monday, December 5th. Approximately 30,000 African Americans participated in the bus boycott. That night, Reverends Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr. led a mass meeting to address the protest. With tens of thousands of black citizens sitting in the audience, the Reverends created the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) and decided to continue the boycott until the city laws were changed. Soon after the boycott began, MIA representatives met with Montgomery Mayor W. A. Gayle and other city leaders and explained that African Americans would not resume riding the buses until the bus company hired black drivers for routes through black neighborhoods and instructed white drivers to treat black passengers with courtesy and professionalism. The City Council quickly dismissed quickly demands. The African American community, meanwhile, held strong by organizing church taxis, and holding mass meetings. Acknowledging that laws might not change with a boycott alone, local black attorney Fred Gray filed a lawsuit in federal court. The lawsuit, known as Browder v. Gayle, sought a complete end to segregation on the city's buses. As a result, city police harassed the boycott's supporters, and the White Citizen’s Council targeted the boycott's leaders with threats of violence and arrest of boycotters. November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling declaring that segregation on Montgomery buses was unconstitutional. One month later, African Americans integrated the city's bus system.
Historical Reference (People) People Jo Ann Robinson
E. D. Nixon
Information In the early 1950s, Robinson and other members of the Women’s Political Council met with Montgomery mayor William A. Gayle and several of his staff. The WPC members found the mayor and his staff responsive to their request for dialogue on various issues affecting African Americans in Montgomery until the subject of integrating the buses arose. Robinson and others wanted drivers to be more courteous, to stop more frequently in black neighborhoods, to allow blacks to pay and board the bus at the front, and to reserve more seats for black patrons. With little cooperation from the mayor's office, and few African Americans able to vote in the city, Robinson came to envision a boycott by the city's many African Americans, which would severely affect the bus company's finances and perhaps prompt integration. After Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955, Robinson and others saw their opportunity to take action. She authored the text of a flyer calling for African Americans to boycott city buses, starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott. After Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her bus seat on December 1, 1955, the young Gray, who shared lunch with Parks earlier that day, became her attorney. Despite Gray's efforts, Parks was convicted of disorderly conduct and violating a civil ordinance. During the famous bus boycott that followed, Gray served as a legal advisor to the Montgomery Improvement Association, and he was lead counsel in Browder v. Gayle, the 1956 case in which the Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions prohibiting segregation on city buses. The bus boycott launched Gray's career, as other civil rights activists and organizations sought his services In 1945, he was elected as the president of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and just two years later became the state president of the organization. Nixon was politically astute and negotiated successfully with white city leaders to gain marginal advances in employment for blacks in city governmental agencies. During the 1950s, Nixon was instrumental in convincing
the Montgomery Police Department to hire blacks by agreeing to support a white candidate who was sympathetic to the fight for black civil rights. Also around this time, Nixon began to openly question the segregated seating restrictions on city buses and the refusal of bus companies to employ black drivers. He and other members of the Montgomery branch of the NAACP began to look for a test case to challenge the legality of Montgomery's segregated transportation system. When Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white man, Nixon wondered if the arrest could serve as the case that could challenge the legality of Alabama's segregated buses. Nixon consulted with attorney and civil-rights activist Fred Gray and others to analyze the merits of a case and to determine if Colvin could stand the scrutiny of being a lead plaintiff. Nixon decided that Colvin was not mature enough to handle the pressures associated with such a landmark case and potentially could cause public relations troubles because she was pregnant and unmarried. December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a seamstress and secretary for the NAACP in Montgomery, was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white man. Nixon was notified of the arrest, and when he telephoned to inquire about Parks' arrest, his inquiry was met with racial epithets, and the police refused to speak with him. Nixon put his house up as bond collateral for her release. Nixon consulted with Gray, and other local black leaders, and they decided that Parks' arrest would serve as the case to challenge the state's segregation policy in Montgomery. A short time later, Nixon and a group of Montgomery-area clergy and civic leaders, including civil-rights leader Ralph Abernathy, founded the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) In the early 1940s, Parks became active in the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), serving as its secretary and teaching young people about their rights and responsibilities as U.S. citizens. Parks participated in a week-long stay for her at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. The school had been founded in 1932 as a training facility for social activists, and there Parks learned effective strategies to protest segregation, including picketing methods and guidelines for establishing citizenship training schools to help people pass voting
Martin Luther King, Jr.
tests. Upon her return, Parks redoubled her commitment to the civil rights community and its effort to overthrow the Jim Crow laws that regulated virtually every aspect of African Americans' lives. On December 1, 1955, Parks' convictions were put to the test. She boarded a crowded bus after work and took a seat. When a white man got on and was unable to find a seat in the whites-only section, Rosa Parks Arrested the bus driver demanded that Parks and three other black passengers give up their seats. (All black passengers were required by law to leave the row, even if only one white passenger needed a seat.) Parks decided the time had come to take her stand; she refused to get up, and at the driver's request two Montgomery police officers escorted her off the bus and to city hall to be arrested. E. D. Nixon, former president of the Montgomery NAACP, bailed her out, and attorney and activist Fred Gray represented her in the subsequent trial, which resulted in a $10 fine. Although it was not her intention, Parks' decision to violate the segregation ordinance triggered a year-long boycott of Montgomery's buses by the city's black population and prompted a challenge of the ordinance's constitutionality in federal court. In December 1956, after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a district court's ruling against segregation in Browder v. Gayle, Parks took a symbolic first ride near the front of a city bus. The successful boycott served as an inspiration to black communities throughout the nation and established Rosa Parks as the "mother of the civil rights movement." In 1954 Martin Luther King Jr. applied for a job as the new pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, located near the Alabama state capital building in Montgomery. While there to preach a trial sermon to the congregation, King befriended the pastor of First Baptist Church, Alabamian Ralph Abernathy, another future leader of the civil rights movement. By 1955, King was known in Montgomery and around the region as a commanding orator with a passionate but measured delivery. King’s rise to national prominence began with events in 1955. On December 1, 1955, Montgomery police officers arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to give her bus seat to a white man. Community activists elected King as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, a group created to organize
protests and a boycott of city buses, most likely because he was relatively new to the city and had no problematic allegiances to the various factions within the black community. The boycott, which lasted more than a year, ended in December 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court's ruling that Alabama's laws requiring segregation on buses were unconstitutional. King, Abernathy, Parks, her attorney Fred Gray, and others were among the first to ride on Montgomery's integrated buses. Abernathy, who was three years older, served as King’s mentor in the city's black ministerial community. In December 1955, Abernathy, King, and several other local activists created the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) after fellow activist Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to relinquish her seat to a white man on a city bus. Many civil rights leaders in Montgomery had been looking for just such a spark to trigger protests against the harsh segregation rules on public transportation. Abernathy and other MIA leaders orchestrated a bus boycott that lasted more than a year and brought national attention to the MIA members and to civil rights issues in the South. Abernathy often shared the podium with King and exhorted the people not to lose faith. "Dr. King's job," he remembered years later, "was to interpret the ideology and theology of non-violence. My job was more simple and down-to-earth. I would tell them, ‘Don't ride those buses.'" In January 1957, amid a spate of white violence following the successful bus boycott, Abernathy's home and church were heavily damaged by bomb blasts. In August 1957, Abernathy, King, and several others founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which would become the most visible civil rights organization in the South. King was installed as president and Abernathy as secretary-treasurer. Abernathy would later become vice president of the organization and then ascend to the presidency after King's assassination in 1968.
Source: Encyclopedia of Alabama
Historical Reference (Terms) Terms Information Segregation Segregation was the legal and social system of separating (Jim Crow Laws) citizens on the basis of race. The system maintained the repression of black citizens in Alabama and other southern states until it was dismantled during the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s and by subsequent civil rights legislation. Segregation is usually understood as a legal system of control consisting of the denial of voting rights, the maintenance of separate schools, and other forms of separation between the races, but formal legal rules were only one part of the regime. Some historians list three other important elements contributing to the creation and reinforcement of the status quo: physical force and terror, economic intimidation, and psychological control exerted through messages of low worth and negativity transmitted socially to African American citizens. Women’s Political Mary Fair Burks founded the Women's Political Council Council (WPC) in 1946 to inspire African American women to become more politically active. The WPC was mainly comprised of female educators, nurses, teachers and other professionals. In 1950, Jo Ann Robinson took over the WPC and made its chief goal to end harassment on city buses. Prior to Parks’ arrest, the WPC wrote letters to Mayor Gayle demanding an end to Montgomery’s bus laws. After Parks’ arrest, the WPC mimeographed memos spreading word of the boycott. Browder v. Gayle MIA members took up the much larger task of improving race relations in the city. Working with the NAACP, the organization also mounted a legal challenge to the city's segregated buses with Browder v. Gayle, led by NAACP attorney Fred Gray. That case, which involved civil rights activist Aurelia Browder bringing suit against Montgomery mayor W. A. Gayle to integrate the bus system, would be decided the year following Parks’ arrest. In June 1956, federal judges Richard Rives and Frank M. Johnson decided in favor of the MIA in the Browder v. Gayle case, ruling that segregated seating on city buses was unconstitutional. Montgomery officials continued to resist integration, however, and took Browder v. Gayle to the Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court's ruling in November. After an almost 13-month-long boycott, Montgomery buses were
107 integrated in December 1956. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Ralph Abernathy were among the first passengers on the newly integrated bus lines.
Montgomery Improvement Association
The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was formed in the days following the December 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks, to oversee the Montgomery bus boycott. The organization would play a leading role in fighting segregation in the city and produce some of the civil rights movement's most well-known figures. To protest Parks’ arrest, E. D. Nixon, the local leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Jo Ann Robinson, president of the Women's Political Council, organized a one-day boycott of Montgomery buses to take place on Monday, December 5. That evening, a mass meeting was held at the Holt Street Baptist Church to determine the future of the boycott. The group members decided they would continue to boycott the buses and urge others to do so as well, and organized themselves into the Montgomery Improvement Association to oversee the boycott. The MIA, like the boycott itself, was founded on the Christian principles of nonviolence and kindness toward one's enemies. Local ministers were given leadership positions in the organization as well as in the boycott. The members elected as president 26-year-old Martin Luther King Jr., pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and a newcomer to Montgomery. King was chosen for his eloquence and his calm demeanor, as well as for a more practical consideration; he was largely unknown to, and would not alarm, most whites in Montgomery. Although E. D. Nixon was widely recognized as the de facto leader of Montgomery's black community, he was instead made treasurer of the MIA, and relations between him and King would remain tense throughout the boycott. The MIA regularly held mass meetings at the Holt Street Baptist Church to pray and to collect donations for gas and tires for the people who drove the boycotters. Anecdotal evidence holds that the MIA benefitted from substantial contributions from whites. The MIA also produced the MIA Newsletter, which was written by Jo Ann Robinson and was widely circulated; particularly gripping articles could always be counted on to bring in a flurry of donations from across the country. In addition, the MIA formed a delegation to
108 negotiate with the city. Their demands were relatively modest: courteous treatment by bus drivers, employment of African Americans as bus drivers, and first-come, first-served seating, rather than outright integration Source: Encyclopedia of Alabama
Historical Analysis Tools Primary and Secondary Sources Common Core Standard Reading #6 A primary source is a document or physical object, which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. Some types of primary sources include: ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records CREATIVE WORKS: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings Examples of primary sources include: Diary of Anne Frank - Experiences of a Jewish family during WWII The Constitution of Canada - Canadian History A journal article reporting NEW research or findings Weavings and pottery - Native American history Plato's Republic - Women in Ancient Greece What is a secondary source? A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. Some types of secondary sources include: 1)
PUBLICATIONS: Textbooks, magazine articles, histories, criticisms, commentaries, encyclopedias
Examples of secondary sources include: A journal/magazine article which interprets or reviews previous findings A history textbook A book about the effects of WWI Source: Princeton University
Three Levels of Questioning Common Core Standard Reading #6 Level One Questions: Readers can point to one correct answer right in the text. Words found in these questions include: defining observing describing naming identifying reciting noting listing Level Two Questions: Readers infer answers from what the text implicitly states, finding answers in several places in the text. Words found in these questions include: analyzing grouping synthesizing comparing/contrasting inferring sequencing Level Three Questions: Readers think beyond what the text states. Answers are based on reader’s prior knowledge/experience and will vary. Words found in these questions include: evaluating judging applying a principle speculating imagining predicting hypothesizing Source: Arthur L. Costa, “Teaching for Intelligence: Recognizing and Encouraging Skillful Thinking and Behavior.” Context Institute (1988).
SOAPS Common Core Standard Reading #6 Have the students complete a SOAPS chart for a specific document, artifact or photograph 1. Speaker o Who is the speaker who produced this piece? What is the their background and why are they making the points they are making? Is there a bias in what was written? 2. Occasion o What is the Occasion? The time and place of the piece. What promoted the author to write this piece? What event led to its publication or development? It is particularly important that students understand the context that encouraged the writing to happen. 3. Audience o Who is the Audience? The group of readers to whom this piece is directed. The audience may be one person, a small group or a large group; it may be a certain person or a certain people. What assumptions can you make about the audience? Is it mixed racial/sex group? What social class? Political party? Who was the document created for? Are there any words or phrases that are unusual or different? Does the speaker use language the specific for a unique audience? Does he speaker evoke God? Nation? Liberty? History? Hell? Does the speaker allude to classical themes: the Fates, the Classical, Pericles, Caesar? Why is the speaker using this type of language? 4. Purpose o What is the purpose? The reason behind the text. In what ways does he convey this message? How would you perceive the speaker giving this speech? What is the document saying? What is the emotional state of the speaker? How is the speaker trying to spark a reaction in the audience? What words or phrases show the speaker’s tone? How is the document supposed to make you feel? This helps you examine the argument or its logic. 5. Subject o What is the subject of the document? The general topic, content, and ideas contained in the text. How do you know this? How has the subject been selected and presented? And presented by the author?
Document Analysis Worksheet TYPE OF DOCUMENT (Check one): Newspaper Map Letter Census Report
Advertisement Press Release Other
UNIQUE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DOCUMENT (Check one or more): Interesting Letterhead
Notations Handwritten Typed
DATE(S) SealsOF DOCUMENT: AUTHOR
FOR WHAT AUDIENCE WAS THE DOCUMENT WRITTEN? DOCUMENT INFORMATION A. Why do you think this document was written?
B. What evidence in the document helps you know why it was written? Quote from the document.
C. List two things the document tells you about life in the United States at the time it was written. D. Write a question to the author that is left unanswered by the document: Source: Designed and developed by the Education Staff, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408
Photo Analysis Worksheet Study the photograph for 2 minutes. Form an overall impression of the photograph and then examine individual items. Next, divide the photo into quadrants and study each section to see what new details become visible.
Use the spa ce below to list people, objects, and activities in the photograph.
Based on what you have observed above, list three things you might infer from this photograph.
What questions does this photograph raise in your mind?
Where could you find answers to them?
Source: Designed and developed by the Education Staff, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408
Cartoon Analysis Worksheet Level 1 Visuals
Words (not all cartoons include words)
1. List the objects or people you see in the cartoon.
1. Identify the cartoon caption and/ Or title.
2. Locate three words or phrases used by the cartoonist to identify objects or people within the cartoon.
3. Record any important dates or Numbers that appear in the cartoon. Level 2 Visuals 2. Which of the objects on your list are symbols?
3. What do you think each symbol means?
Words 4. Which words or phrases in the cartoon appear to be the most significant? Why do you think so?
5. List adjectives that describe the emotions portrayed in the cartoon.
Level 3 A. Describe the action taking place in the cartoon. B. Explain how the words in the cartoon clarify the symbols. C. Explain the message of the cartoon. D. What special interest groups would agree/disagree with the cartoon's message? Why? Source: Designed and developed by the Education Staff, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408
Artifact Analysis Worksheet TYPE OF ARTIFACT Describe the material from which it was made: bone, pottery, metal, wood, stone, leather, glass, paper, cardboard, cotton, plastic, other material.
SPECIAL QUALITIES OF THE ARTIFACT Describe how it looks and feels: shape, color, texture, size, weight, movable parts, anything printed, stamped or written on it.
USES OF THE ARTIFACT A. What might it have been used for?
WHAT DOES THE ARTIFACT TELL US? A. What does it tell us about technology of the time in which it was made and used?
B. What does it tell us about the life and times of the people who made it and used it? C. Can you name a similar item today?
Source: Designed and developed by the Education Staff, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408
Map Analysis Worksheet TYPE OF MAP (Check one): Raised Relief map
UNIQUE PHYSICAL QUALITIES OF THE MAP (Check one or more): Compass Name of mapmaker Handwritten
Date Scale DATE OF MAP: CREATOR OF THE MAP: WHERE WAS THE MAP PRODUCED? MAP INFORMATION A. List three things in this map that you think are important. 1. 2. 3. B. Why do you think this map was drawn? C. What evidence in the map suggests why it was drawn? D. What information does this map add to the textbook's account of this event? E. Does the information in this map support or contradict information that you have read about this event? Explain. F. Write a question to the mapmaker that is left unanswered by this map. Source: Designed and developed by the Education Staff, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408
117 Historical Primary Sources: Photographs, Documents, Interviews Document Guiding Questions Common Core Standard Reading #6 Please reference the document number and connect it to the guiding question for further analysis. 1. Why was the African American population in Montgomery ready to boycott by December 1955?
2. How did the Montgomery leadership create a community during the boycott?
3. How did the boycott affect Montgomery economically?
4. Why was the boycott successful? Interview Guiding Questions **Interviews should be used as supplemental material for teachers and students. They can also be given as additional background information on individuals, for photographs, and/or primary source analysis. Teachers can also have students match up interviews with specific documents and/or photographs. This will teach the students to think about history in the big picture.** 1. What is the attitude of the person interviewed?
2. How did they contribute to the bus boycott?
3. What did they find challenging about the boycott?
4. How would one individual interviewed (such as Claudette Colvin) feel about another interviewee (such as E. D. Nixon)? How do you know?
5. Create and answer different levels of questioning for an interviewee.
Rosa Parks rides on a newly integrated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, following the end of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. December 26, 1956. Montgomery Bus Boycott: Rosa Parks rides on a newly integrated bus in Montgomery,..." Government, Politics, and Protest: Essential Primary Sources. Ed. K. Lee Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, and Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Gale U.S. History In Context.
Two months after her initial arrest, Rosa Parks was arrested on new charges, February 1956. Smithsonian Museum.
Holt Street Baptist Church, December 5, 1955 Photo by Arthur Freeman, Collection of Diane Wood. Smithsonian Museum.
Boycotters carpooled, rode “mobile churches” (carpools sponsored by the church) and rode in taxis to avoid city buses. Photo by Don Cravens Courtesy Time Life. Pictures/Getty Images.
Boycotters riding in a “mobile church.” Transportation provided church donations. Courtesy AP/Wide World Photos. Smithsonian Museum
Boycotters were prone to receiving tickets from Montgomery police for supporting a boycott on a public business, or for operating a taxi without a license. Photo by Don Cravens Courtesy Time Life/Getty Images
Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in February 1956 for encouraging an illegal boycott of a public business. Time Life Pictures/Getty Images Smithsonian Museum.
Jo Ann Robinson in her arrest photo for following an illegal boycott of a city business. February 1956. Montgomery County Archives.
E. D. Nixon sitting for arrest photo for following an illegal boycott of a public business. Montgomery County Archives.
The Montgomery Advertiser article (December 4, 1955) reporting the start of the Boycott
Code of the City of Montgomery, Alabama. Charlottesville: Michie City Publishing Co., 1952. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama
Inez Jessie Baskin Papers, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.
Judge Eugene Carter Papers, Box 11, folder 1. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama
Browder, et al v. Gayle, et. al; U.S. District Court for Middle District of Alabama, Northern (Montgomery) Division Record Group 21: Records of the District Court of the United States National Archives and Records AdministrationSoutheast Region, East Point, GA.
Browder, et al v. Gayle, et. al; U.S. District Court for Middle District of Alabama, Northern (Montgomery) Division Record Group 21: Records of the District Court of the United States National Archives and Records Administration-Southeast Region, East Point, GA.
Browder, et al v. Gayle, et. al; U.S. District Court for Middle District of Alabama, Northern (Montgomery) Division Record Group 21: Records of the District Court of the United States National Archives and Records Administration-Southeast Region, East Point, GA.
Civil Case 1147 Browder, et al v. Gayle, et. al; U.S. District Court for Middle District of Alabama, Northern (Montgomery) Division Record Group 21: Records of the District Court of the United States. National Archives and Records AdministrationSoutheast Region, East Point, GA.
2 We, [Martin Luther] King and I, went to the meeting together. It was drizzling; I had been working up until the last minute on the resolutions. I was given instructions: one, to call off the protest, or two, if indicated, to continue the protest until the grievances were granted. We had had a successful "one-day protest," but we feared that if we extended it beyond the first day, we might fail; it might be better after all to call the protest off, and then we could hold this "one-day boycott" as a threat for future negotiations. However, we were to determine whether to continue the protest by the size of the crowds.... When we got about twenty blocks from the church we saw cars parked solid... as we got closer to the church we saw a great mass of people. The Montgomery Advertiser estimated the crowd at approximately 7,000 persons all trying to get in a church that will accommodate less than 1,000. It took us about fifteen minutes to work our way through the crowd by pleading: "Please let us through—-we are Reverend King and Reverend Abernathy. Please permit us to get through...." Those inside applauded for at least ten minutes. It was apparent that the people were with us. It was then that all of the ministers who had previously refused to take part in the program came up to Reverend King and me to offer their services. This expression of togetherness on the part of the masses was obviously an inspiration to the leadership and helped to rid it of the cowardly, submissive, over timidity. We began the meeting by singing Onward Christian Soldiers, Marching as to War .... Mrs. Rosa Parks was presented to the mass meeting because we wanted her to become symbolic of our protest movement. Following her we presented Mr. Daniels, who happily for our meeting had been arrested on that day.... The appearance of these persons created enthusiasm, thereby giving momentum to the movement. We then heard the resolutions calling for the continuation of the boycott... unanimously and enthusiastically adopted by the 7,000 individuals both inside and outside the church.... Ralph Abernathy, "Recollection of the First MIA Mass Meeting," in Daybreak of Freedom: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, ed. Stewart Burns (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997), pp. 93-95; from George Mason University Center for History and New Media and Stanford University School of Education, "Rosa Parks," Historical Thinking Matters.
136 Dear Sir:
The Women’s Political Council is very grateful to you and the City Commissioners for the hearing you allowed our representative during the month of March, 1954, when the “city-bus-fare-increase case” was being reviewed. There were several things the Council asked for: 1. A city law that would make it possible for Negroes to sit from back toward front, and whites from front toward back until all the seats are taken. 2. That Negroes not be asked or forced to pay fare at front and go to the rear of the bus to enter. 3. That busses stop at every corner in residential sections occupied by Negroes as they do in communities where whites reside. We are happy to report that busses have begun stopping at more corners now in some sections where Negroes live than previously. However, the same practices in seating and boarding the bus continue. Mayor Gayle, three-fourths of the riders of these public conveyances are Negroes. If Negroes did not patronize them, they could not possibly operate. More and more of our people are already arranging with neighbors and friends to ride to keep from being insulted and humiliated by bus drivers. There has been talk from twenty-five or more local organizations of planning a city-wide boycott of busses. We, sir, do not feel that forceful measures are necessary in bargaining for a convenience which is right for all bus passengers. . . . Please consider this plea, and if possible, act favorably upon it, for even now plans are being made to ride less, or not at all, on our busses. We do not want this. Respectfully yours, The Women’s Political Council Jo Ann Robinson, President
Clayborne Carson, et al, eds., The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 44-45; also from Historical Thinking Matters,
1 This stuff has been going on for a long time. To tell you the truth, it's been happening ever since I came here before [World War II]. But here in the last few years they've been getting worse and worse. When you get on the bus they yell: "Get on back there"... and half of the time they wouldn't take your transfer, then they make you get up so white men could sit down [when] there were no seats in the back. And you know about a year ago they put one of the high school girls in jail 'cause she wouldn't move. They should have boycotted the buses then. But we are sure fixing 'em now and I hope we don't ever start back riding.... They shouldn't make me get up for some white person when I paid the same fare and I got on first. And they should stop being so nasty... We pay just like the white folks... [The bus companies] are the ones losing the money and our preachers say we will not ride unless they give us what we want...
Excerpt from an interview conducted by Willie Lee (researcher, Fisk University), January 1956; from George Mason University Center for History and New Media and Stanford University School of Education, Historical Thinking Matters.
1 When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to abolish the Negro race, proper methods should be used. Among these are guns, bows and arrows, sling shots and knives. We hold these truths to be self evident that all whites are created equal with certain rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of dead niggers. In every stage of the bus boycott we have been oppressed and degraded because of black slimy, juicy, unbearably stinking niggers. The conduct should not be dwelt upon because behind them they have an ancestral background of Pigmies, head hunters and snot suckers. My friends it is time we wised up to these black devils. I tell you they are a group of two legged agitators who persist in walking up and down our streets protruding their black lips. If we don’t stop helping these African flesh eaters, we will soon wake up and find Rev. King in the White House. LET’S GET ON THE BALL WHITE CITIZENS. The Book "Declaration of Segregation" will appear April, 1956. If this appeals to you be sure to read the book.
Handbill produced by the Central Alabama Citizens Council, February 10, 1956. Montgomery, Alabama.
139 Rosa Parks, Appellant
VS City of Montgomery, Appellee Appealed to Court of Appeals of Alabama From: Circuit Court of Montgomery County Feb. 12, 1957 Affirmed--[illegible signature] Agreed Stipulation of Facts Attached hereto and marked Exhibit "A" is a plan of the seating arrangement of the bus on which the alleged violation occurred. There were thirty-six seats assigned for passengers. Just prior to the alleged violation by the defendant the ten front seats were assigned for white persons and the back twenty-six seats were assigned for negroes. The defendant was sitting on one of the first dual seats immediately behind those occupied by white passengers and all seats assigned to whites were occupied and all standing room in that section was taken. Negroes were also standing in the negro section. The evidence is in dispute as to whether or not there were vacant seats in the negro section. In order to take on more white passengers who were at that time waiting to board the bus the driver, the agent in charge, requested the passengers on the row of seats immediately in the rear of the white section to give up their seats to white passengers. This would have made four more seats available to whites and under such reassignment the white section would have been increased to fourteen seats and the negro section decreased to twenty-two seats. The defendant, a negro, refused to move in accordance with the request of the bus driver, the agent in charge, and was arrested for such refusal. The defendant was convicted in the Recorders Court of the City of Montgomery, Alabama, and appealed to this Court where the case is at issue. Respectfully submitted, D. Eugene Loe Fred D. Gray Charles D. Langford Feb. 22, 1956 Filed in open court and made a part of record of this case. Carter, Judge Excerpt from the brief filed on behalf of Rosa Parks in Parks vs. City of Montgomery. Filed in the Court of Appeals, Montgomery, Alabama, March 28, 1956. Signed by D. Eugene Loe, attorney for the city of Montgomery, and Fred D. Gray and Charles D. Langford, attorneys for Rosa Parks
26 January 1956 Complaint of City of Montgomery Against Martin Luther King, Jr. The King Institute Stanford.
2 At 9:30 P.M., 30 January, a single stick of dynamite exploded on the King family's porch; Coretta Scott King and a friend, Dexter member Mary Lucy Williams, had been in the living room when they heard an object land on the front porch. They bolted to the back room, where King's daughter Yolanda was sleeping, just as the dynamite exploded, ripping a hole in the porch floor, shattering four windows, and damaging a porch column. King arrived home about fifteen minutes later to find a large and boisterous crowd--many apparently armed--gathered outside and refusing to obey police orders to disperse. When he walked onto the porch, one onlooker reported, “the people let out with cheers that could be heard blocks away. With the raising of his hand they became quiet to hear what he had to say.” In his remarks, King asked the crowd to go home peacefully. Police Commissioner Clyde Sellers and Mayor W A. Gayle addressed the crowd next, promising to investigate the bombing and to defend the King family against future attacks. King spoke to the gathering again, urging them to be calm. The crowd then broke into spontaneous song, including hymns and “My Country, ’Tis of Thee,” before finally dispersing at 10:45 P.M. ” The following comments by King were quoted in the Montgomery Advertiser article by Joe Azbell published the next day. “We believe in law and order. Don’t get panicky. Don’t do anything panicky at all. Don’t get your weapons. He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword. Remember that is what God said. We are not advocating violence. We want to love our enemies. I want you to love our enemies. Be good to them. Love them and let them know you love them. I did not start this boycott. I was asked by you to serve as your spokesman. I want it to be known the length and breadth of this land that if I am stopped this movement will not stop. If I am stopped our work will not stop. For what we are doing is right. What we are doing is just. And God is with us.” [quotations from Gayle, Sellers, and Sheriff Mac Sim Butler omitted] The Rev. King addressed the crowd again saying “go home and sleep calm. Go home and don’t worry. Be calm as I and my family are. We are not hurt and remember that if anything happens to me, there will be others to take my place.”
PD. Montgomery Advertiser, 31 January 1956.
142 To The National City Lines, Inc. 616 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Over a period of years the Negro passengers on the Montgomery City Lines, Inc. have been subjected to humiliation, threats, intimidation, and death through bus driver action. The Negro has been inconvenienced in the use of the city bus lines by the operators in all instances in which the bus has been crowded. He has been forced to give up his seat if a white person has been standing. Repeated conferences with the bus officials have met with failure. Today a meeting was held with Mr. J. H. Bagley and Attorney Jack Crenshaw as representatives of the bus company, and Mayor W. A. Gayle and Associate Commissioners Frank Parks and Clyde Sellers. At which time as an attempt to end the Monday through Thursday protest, the following three proposals were made: 1. Courteous treatment by bus drivers. 2. Seating of Negro passengers from rear to front of bus, and white passengers from front to rear on “first-come-first-serve basis with no seats reserved for any race. 3. Employment of Negro bus operators in predominantly Negro residential sections. The above proposals, and the resolutions which will follow, were drafted and adopted in a mass meeting of more than 5,000 regular bus riders. These proposals were denied in the meeting with the city officials and representatives of the bus company. Since 44% of the city’s population is Negro, and since 75% of the bus riders are Negro, we urge you to send a representative to Montgomery to arbitrate. The Montgomery Improvement Association The Rev. M. L. King, Pres. The Rev. U. J. Fields, Sec’y. TLc. MLW-MBU: Box 6. 8 December 1955 To the National City Lines, Inc. Montgomery, Ala. The King Institute Stanford University.
2 December 1955 Leaflet, “Don’t Ride the Bus,” Come to a Mass Meeting on 5 December. The King Institute Stanford University.
2 This is a historic week because segregation on buses has now been declared unconstitutional. Within a few days the Supreme Court Mandate will reach Montgomery and you will be reboarding integrated buses. This places upon us all a tremendous responsibility of maintaining, in face of what could be some unpleasantness, a calm and loving dignity befitting good citizens and members of our Race. If there is violence in word or deed it must not be our people who commit it. For your help and convenience the following suggestions are made. Will you read, study and memorize them so that our non-violent determination may not be endangered. First, some general suggestions: 1. Not all white people are opposed to integrated buses. Accept goodwill on the part of many. 2. The whole bus is now for the use of all people. Take a vacant seat. 3. Pray for guidance and commit yourself to complete non-violence in word and action as you enter the bus. 4. Demonstrate the calm dignity of our Montgomery people in your actions. 5. In all things observe ordinary rules of courtesy and good behavior. 6. Remember that this is not a victory for Negroes alone, but for all Montgomery and the South. Do not boast! Do not brag! 7. Be quiet but friendly; proud, but not arrogant; joyous, but not boisterous. 8. Be loving enough to absorb evil and understanding enough to turn an enemy into a friend. Now for some specific suggestions: 1. The bus driver is in charge of the bus and has been instructed to obey the law. Assume that he will cooperate in helping you occupy any vacant seat. 2. Do not deliberately sit by a white person, unless there is no other seat.
145 3. In sitting down by a person, white or colored, say "May I" or "Pardon me" as you sit. This is a common courtesy. 4. If cursed, do not curse back. If pushed, do not push back. If struck, do not strike back, but evidence love and goodwill at all times. 5. In case of an incident, talk as little as possible, and always in a quiet tone. Do not get up from your seat! Report all serious incidents to the bus driver. 6. For the first few days try to get on the bus with a friend in whose non-violence you have confidence. You can uphold one another by glance or prayer. 7. If another person is being molested, do not arise to go to his defense, but pray for the oppressor and use moral and spiritual forces to carry on the struggle for justice. 8. According to your own ability and personality, do not be afraid to experiment with new and creative techniques for achieving reconciliation and social change. 9. If you feel you cannot take it, walk for another week or two. We have confidence in our people. GOD BLESS YOU ALL. THE MONTGOMERY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION The Rev. M. L. King, Jr., President The Rev. W. J. Powell, Secretary
Inez Jessie Baskin Papers, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama, http://www.alabamamoments.state.al.us/sec55ps.html.
2 A group of 18 persons met at the Mt. Zion A.M.E. Zion Church at 3 P.M. Officers were elected: Chairman—Rev. M. L. King Vice Chairman—Rev. Roy Bennett Recording Sec.—Rev. U. J. Fields Corresponding Sec.—Rev. E. N. French Financial Sec.—Mrs. Erna Dungee Treasurer—E. D. Nixon The Montgomery Improvement Association Moved and second that the 16 persons here and a suggestion that 9 names be brought in making 25 which constitute the Executive Committee It was recommended that resolutions would be drawned up. Resolution Committee Rev. Abernathy Chairman Rev Alford Mr Gray Mr. Nixon Rev. Glasco The president, Rev. M. L. King, attorney Gray and attorney Langford is on the committee. The program would be tape recorded at its Holt Street Baptist Church. It was agreed that the protest be continued until conditions are improved.It was passed that the recommendations from the committee be given to the citizens at the night meeting. Opening Hymn Onward Christian Soldier 1. Prayer—Rev Alford 2. Scripture Rev. Fields 3. Occassion—Rev. King Presentation of Mrs. Parks—Rev. French Fred [Daniels] 4. Resolutions—Rev. Abernathy Vote on Recomendations 5. Offering—Rev Bonner 6. Closing Hymn—My Country Tis of Thee 7. Benediction—Rev. Roy Bennett 5 December 1955. Minutes of Montgomery Improvement Association Founding Meeting, by U.J. Fields. Montgomery, Ala. The King Institute Stanford University.
147 Interviews Claudette Colvin By Sebastian Kitchen Montgomery Advertiser Claudette Colvin could be a common name in every modern U.S. history book, but the protest of another woman nine months later became the rallying cry for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Colvin, then a 15-year old student at Booker T. Washington, was arrested for her refusal to give up a bus seat in 1955, but it was another woman and another arrest nine months later that would capture people's attention and be noted in modern American history books. Colvin was arrested in March 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. "She made something out of what I started," Colvin said. Colvin feels her disobedience was the spark for much of the movement's fire. "I can look and say that it spread," she said. Many civil rights leaders believe the boycott and Parks as people know them today may have been completely different without Colvin's actions. While Parks is well known for her refusal to move in December 1955, Colvin is largely unknown, not even a footnote in most history books. And while Parks is associated with the boycott and the desegregation of buses, it was four other women that were the plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case that desegregated buses. Colvin was a plaintiff in the Browder v. Gayle lawsuit that desegregated buses. Parks was not. Civil rights attorney Fred Gray always discusses Colvin when he speaks about the boycott and about Parks. He points out the boycott and its place in history would have been vastly different without Colvin's action.
148 People including Georgette Norman, director of the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, and Gray note Colvin was a part of the case that changed the law. She is one of two living women who were plaintiffs from the lawsuit including Mary Louise Smith. Even though Smith continues to live in Montgomery, she much like Colvin, has received little recognition for her action. Colvin will be recognized in the addition to the museum, which will be completed for the 50th anniversary. There will be a photo of her and a description of her role in the civil rights movement. There is little recognition of her in the current museum. Colvin, now 66 and retired, said she is not angry, but she is disappointed. She does not know why more effort was not made to tell her story. "I feel like I am getting my Christmas in January rather than the 25th," Colvin said. When the 25th anniversary of the boycott arrived, she expected the four plaintiffs from the lawsuit to be recognized. "We were the ones who ended it," Colvin said of segregation on buses. "They didn't' mention us." Colvin said her civil disobedience in 1955 came soon after studying her heritage in school and hearing teachers talk about the injustices against African Americans, including the Jim Crow laws. She was inspired and supported by two teachers. "I guess I was the only one who took it seriously," Colvin said. Nobody had ever needed to ask Colvin to move before that day in March 1955. She was quiet and followed the laws of society, even though they may not have been written laws. Nothing specific prompted her to refuse to move that day, to remain in her seat as the bus continued to fill with white riders. "I just said I am not going to take this any more," Colvin said. "I was not breaking the law." She said her books were thrown from the bus and two officers, each grabbing an arm, dragged her off of the bus. "I told them it was my constitutional right," Colvin said. "I paid my fare." She was taken to City Hall in a police car, was booked and placed in the adult jail.
149 Neighbors, fellow students and others in the community began to think of Colvin as a troublemaker, she said. "They distanced themselves from me," Colvin said of fellow students. "They didn't want to be close to me because of my beliefs." She is proud she acted and proud she disobeyed. Colvin also realizes it was just a matter of time before someone acted. "The revolution was already here," she said. "If it wasn't me, it would have been somebody." Colvin, who was in her teens, pregnant within months of the arrest and subsequently dropped out of school, was not chosen as the test case challenging segregation on city buses. "That's why they chose not to use me as the test case," she said. Colvin said they wanted Parks to be the icon, but she is glad she acted. "She did what she had to do and made something of it," she said.
150 Rosa Parks By Jannell McGrew Montgomery Advertiser December 1, 2000 When ordered by bus driver James F. Blake that she must yield her seat in the first row of the black section of a Montgomery bus to a white man, Parks, then 42, said no. "God sat with me," Parks said this week, "as I remained calm and determined not to be treated with less dignity than any other citizen of Montgomery." She was arrested, fingerprinted, put behind bars, then bailed out. Others had been arrested for defying the segregation laws, so Parks' arrest garnered little attention from many in Montgomery - including this newspaper, which gave it a scant five paragraphs next to a jewelry store ad at the bottom of an inside page. But this was different. Parks was a respected, well-regarded black laborer who worked for a downtown department store. She had many white friends, who didn't peg her a troublemaker, someone looking to cause a ruckus or make a stand. Perhaps that's why Parks caused the first domino to fall in a long line that led to the demise of laws that kept blacks at the back of the bus. Her arrest caused the civil rights movement to move. It brought to the forefront a young Montgomery preacher, the Rev. Martin Luther King, who would go on to galvanize the nation. And the boycott of the bus system that followed showed how non-violence and solidarity could be effective against oppression. It's been said that Parks shrugs her shoulders when she's called "the mother of the civil rights movement." But she cannot dispute this: Her decision to stay in her seat on that December day was the beginning of the end of Jim Crow. "Back then," Parks said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, "we didn't have any civil rights. It was just a matter of survival, of existing from one day to the next. I remember going to sleep as a girl hearing the Klan ride at night and hearing a lynching and being afraid the house would burn down." After attending Alabama State Teachers College, now Alabama State University, she married Raymond Parks in 1932 and made a home in Montgomery. Few are aware that both Parks - husband and wife - were active in many early struggles for equality.
151 "Self taught with minimal formal education, Raymond (her husband) was a skilled barber. Rosa, a domestic worker and seamstress, finished high school after her marriage to Raymond," the institute's history reads. "They both encouraged others to register to vote, pool their financial resources, advocate for quality formal education and become involved in community development." Douglas Brinkley, author of a recently released biography, "Rosa Parks," and a history professor at the University of New Orleans, said the couple worked together to gain rights for blacks. "It was Raymond who helped trigger Rosa Parks' commitment to fighting social injustice through the NAACP," Brinkley said. In 1943, Rosa Parks became one of the first women to join Montgomery's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. That same year, she worked with the NAACP's state president, E.D. Nixon, to mobilize a voter registration drive in Montgomery and was elected secretary of the Montgomery branch, a post she held until 1956. "I worked on numerous cases with the NAACP," Parks said, "but we did not get the publicity. There were cases of flogging, peonage, murder and rape. We didn't seem to have too many successes. It was more a matter of trying to challenge the powers that be and to let it be known that we did not wish to continue being second-class citizens. "...No one enjoyed segregation, but it had to be tolerated. I helped train the youth of the NAACP to peacefully protest segregation in the Montgomery Public Library." Becoming a legend Popular legend has it that when Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man 45 years ago, she was tired and weary from a long day of work. The tale - told and retold countless times as the movement took hold - painted a vivid picture. But was she tired because of her job that day? Or was she tired of subjecting herself to segregation - and knew if she defied the law, she would be arrested? "Rosa Parks was physically tired but no more than anyone else after a long day of working," she said. "But what she was really 'sick and tired' of was the unfair treatment of blacks throughout the South. "She was just tired of taking this, and she just said, 'I'm not going to take any more,'" Lowery said.
152 The NAACP, eager for the movement to take hold, capitalized on the "tired" reference to gain support, Brinkley said. "After Rosa Parks was arrested and the boycott began, the NAACP was dogged in its effort to showcase Rosa Parks as being the tired seamstress in every woman - a woman whose feet were tired one day and refused to give up her bus seat," he said. "In order for the NAACP to get money for the movement, they had to make sure she wasn't seen as a communist or socialist or some anti-American troublemaker. They went out of their way to downplay Rosa Parks' 30-year commitment to civil rights." But Parks has said numerous times that she was weary of the treatment she and other blacks received every day of their lives. "Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it," writes Parks in one of her books. "I kept thinking about my mother and my grandparents and how strong they were. I knew there was a possibility of being mistreated, but an opportunity was being given to me to do what I had asked of others." Before her arrest, Parks often showed her distaste for segregation in her own quiet way. She walked up the stairs of buildings, for instance, rather than riding an elevator marked "blacks only." Brinkley said the thought that her arrest was a purely spontaneous event "has cheated her out of her true historic role as one of the most prominent grass-roots activists of our century. "They wanted to make her into a mythological figure beyond reproach, and they succeeded," he said. Robert Nesbitt, 91, was a deacon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the congregation led by the Rev. King, at the time of Parks' arrest. He said he clearly recalls the events surrounding the boycott. "When E.D. Nixon went and bonded her out, we had meetings about it. We decided that we would not ride the buses and that we would boycott," Nesbitt said. "We (later) decided to boycott the buses until our demands were met." The Montgomery Improvement Association, led by King, called for a boycott of the cityowned bus company. The boycott lasted 381 days and brought Parks, King and their cause to the attention of the world.
153 The boycott drew to a close shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Montgomery ordinance that caused Parks' arrest, thus outlawing racial segregation on public transportation in the city and throughout the South. "One could say that Mrs. Parks' refusal to surrender her seat ... created an ever widening ripple of change throughout the world," said civil rights attorney Fred Gray, who served as Parks' lawyer. "The quiet exemplification of courage, dignity and determination mobilized people of various philosophies." Brinkley said, however, he does not believe Parks was chosen by anyone to challenge the system. "The bottom line is nobody chose her," Brinkley said. "She did not wake up that morning saying, "OK, I am going to get arrested. But a lifetime of injustice had brought her to that breakdown point. She had been aware that there was a movement afoot to integrate the bus transportation system." "She has always been her own woman," he added. "She's never been scripted by anybody to do what she did." Historian Gwendolyn Patton of Montgomery said, "Mrs. Parks' refusal to get out of her seat was the straw that broke the camel's back. "And the movement that ensued, the Montgomery bus boycott movement, and the people were the straws that finally broke the back of Jim Crow." Parks, responding in writing to questions submitted by the Montgomery Advertiser, also said her arrest was not a planned event. "There is no way anyone could have planned that day," Parks said. "But throughout the community organizations in Montgomery, we had been planning for freedom all of our lives." Parks' legacy continues
154 Fred Gray Sr. By Jannell McGrew Montgomery Advertiser When now famous civil rights attorney Fred Gray Sr. decided to be a lawyer, the first thing he wanted to do was "tear down everything segregated I could find." Gray not only was the attorney for Rosa Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. -- he was their friend. He continues his work in civil rights today and at age 74, he continues his work in arguing court cases. But it was Montgomery's segregated buses that would be his proving ground. "The bus situation and how our people were treated on buses bothered me," Gray said. "While I didn't have any direct altercations with anybody, I had seen many people who had, and when I looked around and realized that everything in Montgomery was completely segregated ... I just concluded there was something wrong about all of that." Gray's route to the halls of justice was a roundabout one. Before he began studying law and learning the art of arguing a case in a courtroom, he investigated another, more spiritual path. When Gray was 12, he left his native Montgomery and traveled to Tennessee to attend the Nashville Christian Institute. He was such an apt pupil that Marshall Keeble, the school president, selected him to help raise funds and recruit students. He traveled around with Keeble all over the country as a boy preacher, "as a specimen of what the school produces," Gray recalled. He returned to his hometown with the hopes of doing ministry work or becoming a teacher - "two safe positions or professions for African Americans in the 1940s and early 1950s," he noted. But something happened to alter his course -- the Jim Crow law, especially as it was imposed on the Montgomery bus system. Not only did blacks have to sit in the rear of buses, they had to pay their fare in the front then get out and walk around to the back of the bus to get in. Many blacks were mistreated by bus drivers who allowed them to pay, then drove off without letting them get on after they had stepped out to walk to the back. By many in the black community, it was called simply the "bus situation."
155 The "bus situation" could best be confronted, Gray soon concluded, in the courtroom rather than in the sanctuary. Gray credits Montgomery resident Thelma Glass, another boycott supporter, for helping him chart the course to law school. So did E.D. Nixon, whom Gray often describes as "Mr. Civil Rights," and Alabama State University professor J.E. Pierce. Gray decided in his junior year of college to pursue a career in law. Gray couldn't attend the then-segregated University of Alabama, although he later would argue a case that opened the doors once closed to him. When he got ready to go to law school, Glass recommended him to go to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Glass said. So he headed to Cleveland. To help pay for school, he worked at "any job that was available," Gray said, from button factories to dry cleaners. At Case Western, he said, he studied the ins and outs of Alabama law, even crafting his papers around the subject. When he returned to Montgomery, he said, he wanted to be ready for the state's judicial system. "Secretly I said to myself, 'I'm going to come back (to Montgomery) and begin destroying everything segregated I can,'" Gray recalled. "That was my commitment, my secret commitment, and I didn't tell anybody about that for 35 years." He was admitted to the Ohio bar association in 1954 and to his home state's bar the same year. The following year, he got his chance to battle segregation. When Parks was arrested, Gray already had been the attorney for Claudette Colvin, who had been arrested a few months earlier under similar circumstances. "That was the young lady who really gave all of us the courage to do what we later did when Mrs. Parks" refused to give up her seat, Gray said. Gray's commitment to winning civil rights cases didn't end with the bus boycott. He sued on behalf of the participants in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and helped overcome Gov. George Wallace's stand in the schoolhouse door.
Jo Ann Robinson Conducted by PBS Llew Smith: THE FIRST IS THE WEEKEND OF THE BOYCOTT, AND HOW PEOPLE—DID YOU REALLY BELIEVE ONCE THE LEAFLETS HAD BEEN SENT OUT THAT THERE WAS GOING TO BE A BOYCOTT? Jo Ann Robinson: I was a part of it, I knew there was going to be a boycott. Llew Smith: THAT'S LESS THAN 30 SECONDS. [laughter] [unintelligible] Jo Ann Robinson: I was the President of the Women's Council and we had prepared for this. [laughter] Llew Smith: OK, HOW ABOUT THE WOMEN'S POLITICAL COUNCIL? Jo Ann Robinson: The Women's Political Council was an organization that had begun in 1946, after just dozens of black people had been arrested on the buses for segregation purposes. And at that time, the black woman and the white man were the freest people in the southern states. And we knew that if something hadn't been done by the women there wouldn't be anything done. And we had sat down and… and witnessed the arrests and humiliation and the court trials and fines paid, ah, people who just sat down on an empty seat. And so we knew something had to be done. We organized the Women's Council, and oh, within a month's time we had over a hundred members. We organized a second chapter and a third, so we had more than 300 members in that organization. We had members in every elementary, junior high and senior high school. We had them organized from federal and…and state and um, local jobs, wherever there were more than 10 blacks employed we had a member there and we were organized to the point that we knew that in a matter of hours we could corral the whole city. Llew Smith: WHEN YOU LOOK BACK IN HISTORY, IT LOOKS LIKE THE BOYCOTT WAS A SPONTANEOUS ACT PROVOKED BY THE ARREST OF ROSA PARKS. WAS IT? Jo Ann Robinson: It was a spontaneous act from those persons who were not members of the Women's Political Council. But we had worked for at least three years getting that thing organized. The night that the—the night of the evening that Rosa Parks was arrested, Fred Gray called me and told me she was arrested, she had somebody going her bail, but her case would be on Monday, and I as President of the main body of the Women's Political Council got on the phone and I called all the officers of the three chapters. I called as many of the men who had supported us as possible and I told them that Rosa Parks had been arrested and she would be tried. They said, you have the plans, put them into operation. I called every person who was in every school and everyplace where we had planned to be at that house…have somebody at that school or wherever it was at a certain time that I would be there with materials for them to disseminate. I didn't go to bed that night. I cut those stencils. I ran off 35,000 of the little foyer that you ah,
157 have. And I distributed them. I had classes from 8:00 to 10:00 at the college. And at 10:00 I had two senior students who had agreed to go with me. I took them in my car. The packages were already there. It would take about a half a minute to drive on the school campus, the kid would be there, in just a minute they would disappear. Llew Smith: THE MINISTERS WERE MEETING AT THE SAME TIME? Jo Ann Robinson: The ministers were—ah, not at 10:00. The ministers were meeting that afternoon, or sometime during the day on um High…High Street. They were having the International Ministerial ah…Association Meeting. And ah, after we had ah, circulated those ah, 35,000 circulars, then we went by the church. That was about 3:30 in the afternoon and we took them to the ministers. And it was there that they learned there was to be a boycott and they agreed to meet at Dr. King's Church, Dexter Avenue, that night to decide what should be done about the boycott after the first day. You see the Women's Council planned it only for Monday, and it was left up to the men to take over after we had forced them really to decide whether or not it had been successful enough to continue, and how long it was to be continued. Llew Smith: HOW DID MOST PEOPLE FOUND OUT ABOUT IT? THE LEAFLETS WERE DISTRIBUTED—DID THE NEWSPAPER ARTICLES—? Jo Ann Robinson: We, we had just everything in our favor, because we distributed the 35,000 copies and most of the people got the message, but there were outlying areas that didn't get it. And one lone black woman who was so faithful to her white lady as she called it, went back to work and took one of the…the circulars to this woman so she would know what the blacks had planned. When the woman got it, she immediately called the media, and then following that, the television, the radios, and news…and evening newspapers, everybody told those persons whom we had not reached, that there would be the boycott. So the dye was cast. Llew Smith: HOW DID THEY GET OUT TO PEOPLE? Jo Ann Robinson: Ohhh. I mentioned that. I guess I wasn't clear. I took them to school with me in my car, after I had talked with every member in the elementary, junior high and senior high schools to have somebody on the campus that I would be there at a certain time during the day and deliver them. I taught my classes from 8:00 to 10:00. I was free from 10:00 to 2:00, and when my 10:00 o'clock class was over, I took two senior students with me and I had them in my car, bundled and ready to be given out. And I would drive to the place of dissemination. A kid would be there to grab them, disappear. And I was on the campus and off, or in the front of the place or wherever it was, before anybody knew that I was there. I delivered them in my car, yeah. Llew Smith: MONDAY, THE DECISION IS MADE TO CONTINUE THE BOYCOTT. Jo Ann Robinson: Monday night, the ministers held their meeting at Holt Street Baptist church, and they voted ah, unanimously to continue the boycott. And instead of it lasting one day as the Women's Council had planned it, it lasted for 13 months.
Llew Smith: WHAT KEPT IT GOING? Jo Ann Robinson: The spirit, the desire, the injustices that had been endured by thousands of people through the years. I think that people were fed up, they had reached the point that they knew there was no return, that they had to do it or die. And that's what kept it going. It was the sheer spirit for freedom, for the feeling of being a man and a woman. Llew Smith: THERE MUST HAVE BEEN SOME MOMENTS IN THOSE 13 MONTHS WHEN THE PRESSURE TO BREAK WAS ENORMOUS. Jo Ann Robinson: Well, I never reached a point where I was sorry. I reached a point where I was scared. They broke—the police broke out my picture window. They…they…the man next door trailed them downtown and Mr. Sellers, who was the fellows who was the Police Commissioner asked that man if he wanted to live when he followed the police and told them that they had broken out my window. And when the man said yes, he wanted to live, he said, but you go home and check your files. They got away with it. They broke my window. And not too long after that, I had a…a carport, and I had my car…it was the new Chrysler parked under that carport. I'd never turn my lights on until I went to bed. I sat up there in the dark, and many of the people from the college sat with me, because they knew I'd been getting a lot of threatening calls. But that particular night, about two weeks after they had broken my picture window, I heard a noise on the side where my car was, and I went and looked out the window in the dark, and there were two policemen scattering something on the top of my car, on the hood of the car. I didn't know what it was. I saw them when they went back and got in their car and drove away. The next morning my car was eaten up with acid. I had holes as large as a dollar, all over the…the…the top of the car, all over the hood, or the motor, and the side of the car, and at first I thought it was a terrible tragedy, but it became to mean a great significance to me. And I did say, I will say, that after that, it was reported to the Governor, and Mr. Folsom, then put a State Highway Patrolman on my house, just as he had Dr. King, Rev. Abernathy and Mr. Nixon, and that patrol car guarded my house until the boycott was over. It was frightening. That there were many whites who were with us all the way. I used to drive until 12:00 at night in my car, and many times there were white women driving, going to the parking lot, you know about the parking lot downtown where it served as the interchange for different directions. And those women were driving, pick those people up. Now at one time when I would get up at maybe 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning and start driving that I would run into whites with blacks and I thought they were picking up their maids or those persons who were working for them. But it turned out that they were there helping those people to get where they were going. So I would have to say that there were many sympathetic whites who knew that the system was wrong and they were doing what they could to help to correct it. Llew Smith: BUT WHEN IT CAME WAS THERE A COMMUNITY MEETING TO GET READY AND —? Jo Ann Robinson: And rejoicing and ah, I told you so's, and the happiness of 13 weary
159 months coming to light again. Yes, that was ah, a meeting, and I might mention—Yes, that ah, we did meet after the news came through. And all of these people who had fought for 13 months got together to…to communicate and to rejoice and to share that ah, built up emotion and all of the other feelings that they had lived with during the, the past 13 months. And we just rejoiced together. Llew Smith: E. D. NIXON. Jo Ann Robinson: E. D. Nixon was one of the few black men who was not afraid in Montgomery. When I went to Alabama State in '49, E. D. Nixon had an organization. And ah, it tried, but there were very few people who worked with him for various reasons of which I cannot state. But ah, his organization, though he protested individually, it didn't have too much power behind it because it was small in number. Mr. Lewis also had an organization, the Citizen's Council, but the following was not great enough to be of too much of a threat.
Additional Montgomery Bus Boycott Web Sources The Montgomery Advisor Website: http://www.montgomeryboycott.com/ Holt Labor Library http://www.holtlaborlibrary.org/BusBoycott.htm Alabama State Archives http://www.archives.alabama.gov/teacher/rights/rights1.html King Research Institute, Stanford http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/ PBS http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/eyesontheprize/story/02_bus.html Alabama Department of Archives and History http://www.alabamamoments.state.al.us/sec55.html Troy University http://montgomery.troy.edu/rosaparks/museum/boycott.html Independence Hall Association http://www.ushistory.org/us/54b.asp City University New York http://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1834
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