Montgomery Bus Boycott Essay

Bus desegregation did not alleviate the suffering of the Parks family.

Working class and living in the Cleveland Courts Projects, the Parks family had encountered periods of economic trouble before, but the toll that Parks’ arrest took on her family was enormous and far-reaching.

The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) coordinated the boycott, and its president, Martin Luther King, Jr., became a prominent civil rights leader as international attention focused on Montgomery.

The bus boycott demonstrated the potential for nonviolent mass protest to successfully challenge racial segregation and served as an example for other southern campaigns that followed.

Rosa Parks’ political activities in Detroit were even more diverse than they had been in Montgomery. Attending scores of events and meetings across the city, she traveled regularly to take part in the growing Black Power movement across the country.

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She worked on prisoner support, helped run the Detroit chapter of the Friends of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and took part in the growing movement against U. When asked by a reporter from Sepia magazine in 1974 how she managed to do so much, she demurred, “I do what I can.” In 1987, she and long-time friend Elaine Steele started the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, which continues today to educate youth about the struggle for civil and human rights.

Businessman and philanthropist Howard Buffett had purchased the collection, which had languished in an auction house warehouse for years, to ensure the public would benefit from the historical record of Parks’ life.

These newly-acquired papers and photographs offer a rare look into the ideas and activities of a woman who changed the nation—not just on a single day on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus (see page 20) but over the course of her life.

Seven months later, 18-year-old Mary Louise Smith was arrested for refusing to yield her seat to a white passenger.

Neither arrest, however, mobilized Montgomery’s black community like that of Rosa Parks later that year. Parks was ideal for the role assigned to her by history,” and because “her character was impeccable and her dedication deep-rooted” she was “one of the most respected people in the Negro community” (King, 44).


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