Montgomery Bus Boycott Quotes

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When Black women stand up— as they did during the Montgomery Bus Boycott—as they did during the Black liberation era, earth-shaking changes occur.
Angela Y. Davis (Freedom is a Constant Struggle)
In most black people, there is a South Side, a sense of home, that never leaves, and yet to compete in the world, we have to go forth. So we learn to code-switch and become bilingual. We save our Timberlands for the weekend, and our jokes for the cats in the mail room. Some of us give ourselves up completely and become the mask, while others overcompensate and turn every dustup into the Montgomery bus boycott. But increasingly, as we move into the mainstream, black folks are taking a third road -- becoming ourselves.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Civil and voting rights for blacks didn’t come from the White House or from masses demonstrating in front of the White House. They came after the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955–56, the Freedom Rides in 1961, the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham in 1963, the Mississippi Freedom Summer and Freedom Schools in 1964, and the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965. In other words, they came only after hundreds of thousands of black Americans and their white supporters had accepted the challenge and risks of ourselves making or becoming the changes we want to see in the world. Women’s leadership in the public sphere didn’t come from the White House or from CEOs. It came only after millions of women came together in small consciousness-raising groups to share stories of our “second sex” lives. Today’s good news is that Americans in all walks of life have begun to create another America from the ground up in many unforeseen ways. In our bones we sense that this is no ordinary time. It is a time of deep change, not just of social structure and economy but also of ourselves.
Grace Lee Boggs (The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century)
do the rosa parks say no no do the rosa parks throw your hand in the air do the rosa parks say ... no no do the rosa parks tell them: that ain't fair
Nikki Giovanni (Acolytes)
Rosa Parks drew solace & sustenance from the long history of Black resistance before her time, placing her action & the Montgomery bus boycott in the continuum of Black protest. Her speech notes during the boycott read: 'Reading histories of others--Crispus Attucks through all wars--Richard Allen--Dr. Adam Clayton Powell Sr. & Jr. Women Phyllis Wheatley--Sojourner Truth--Harriet Tubman, Mary McLeod Bethune. For Parks, the ability to keep going, to know that the struggle for justice was possible amidst all the setbacks they encountered, was partly possible through reading & referencing the long Black struggle before her.
Jeanne Theoharis (A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History)
What the most advanced researchers and theoreticians in all of science now comprehend is that the Newtonian concept of a universe driven by mass force is out of touch with reality, for it fails to account for both observable phenomena and theoretical conundrums that can be explained only by quantum physics: A quantum view explains the success of small efforts quite differently. Acting locally allows us to be inside the movement and flow of the system, participating in all those complex events occurring simultaneously. We are more likely to be sensitive to the dynamics of this system, and thus more effective. However, changes in small places also affect the global system, not through incrementalism, but because every small system participates in an unbroken wholeness. Activities in one part of the whole create effects that appear in distant places. Because of these unseen connections, there is potential value in working anywhere in the system. We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In what Wheatley calls “this exquisitely connected world,” the real engine of change is never “critical mass”; dramatic and systemic change always begins with “critical connections.”14 So by now the crux of our preliminary needs should be apparent. We must open our hearts to new beacons of Hope. We must expand our minds to new modes of thought. We must equip our hands with new methods of organizing. And we must build on all of the humanity-stretching movements of the past half century: the Montgomery Bus Boycott; the civil rights movement; the Free Speech movement; the anti–Vietnam War movement; the Asian American, Native American, and Chicano movements; the women’s movement; the gay and lesbian movement; the disability rights/pride movement; and the ecological and environmental justice movements. We must find ourselves amid the fifty million people who as activists or as supporters have engaged in the many-sided struggles to create the new democratic and life-affirming values that are needed to civilize U.S. society.
Grace Lee Boggs (The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century)
One old domestic, an influential matriarch to many young relatives in Montgomery, was asked by her wealthy employer, “Isn’t this bus boycott terrible?” The old lady responded: “Yes, ma’am, it sure is. And I just told all my young’uns that this kind of thing is white folks’ business and we just stay off the buses till they get this whole thing settled.
Martin Luther King Jr. (The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.)
The enormous spotlight that focused on King, combined with the construction of Rosa Parks as a saintly symbol, hid the women's long struggle in the dimly lit background, obscuring the origins of the MIA and erasing women from the movement. For decades, the Montgomery bus boycott has been told as a story triggered by Rosa Park's spontaneous refusal to give up her seat followed by the triumphant leadership of men like Fred Gray, Martin Luther King, Jr., E. D. Nixon, and Ralph Abernathy. While these men had a major impact on the emerging protest movement, it was black women's decade-long struggle against mistreatment and abuse by white bus drivers and police officers that launched the boycott. Without an appreciation for the particular predicaments of black women in the Jim Crow South, it is nearly impossible to understand why thousands of working-class and hundreds of middle-class black women chose to walk rather than ride the bus for 381 days.
Danielle L. McGuire (At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power)
Montgomery, Alabama. December 1, 1955. Early evening. A public bus pulls to a stop and a sensibly dressed woman in her forties gets on. She carries herself erectly, despite having spent the day bent over an ironing board in a dingy basement tailor shop at the Montgomery Fair department store. Her feet are swollen, her shoulders ache. She sits in the first row of the Colored section and watches quietly as the bus fills with riders. Until the driver orders her to give her seat to a white passenger. The woman utters a single word that ignites one of the most important civil rights protests of the twentieth century, one word that helps America find its better self. The word is “No.” The driver threatens to have her arrested. “You may do that,” says Rosa Parks. A police officer arrives. He asks Parks why she won’t move. “Why do you all push us around?” she answers simply. “I don’t know,” he says. “But the law is the law, and you’re under arrest.” On the afternoon of her trial and conviction for disorderly conduct, the Montgomery Improvement Association holds a rally for Parks at the Holt Street Baptist Church, in the poorest section of town. Five thousand gather to support Parks’s lonely act of courage. They squeeze inside the church until its pews can hold no more. The rest wait patiently outside, listening through loudspeakers. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd. “There comes a time that people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression,” he tells them. “There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amidst the piercing chill of an Alpine November.” He praises Parks’s bravery and hugs her. She stands silently, her mere presence enough to galvanize the crowd. The association launches a citywide bus boycott that lasts 381 days. The people trudge miles to work. They carpool with strangers. They change the course of American history.
Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking)
The Montgomery bus boycott would have happened without King, but King's oratory helped to ensure that the boycott came one of those exceptional local movements for justice that would send ripples of inspiration to oppressed people everywhere.
Troy Jackson (Becoming King: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Making of a National Leader (Civil Rights and Struggle))
If Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hamer and others had been heard fifty years ago—if women had been half the speakers in 1963—we might have heard that the civil rights movement was partly a protest against the ritualistic rape and terrorizing of black women by white men.4 We might have known that Rosa Parks had been assigned by the NAACP to investigate the gang rape of a black woman by white men—who had left her for dead near a Montgomery bus stop—before that famous boycott.
Gloria Steinem (My Life on the Road)
Together with a number of Negro and white reporters, I attended [Martin Luther] King's packed church. He spoke simply, emphasizing the nonviolent nature of the struggle, and told his congregation: "We are concerned not merely to win justice in the buses but rather to behave in a new and different way--to be nonviolent so that we may remove injustice itself, both from society and from ourselves. This is a struggle which we cannot lose, no matter what the apparent outcome, if we ourselves succeed in becoming better and more loving people.
Bayard Rustin (Down the Line: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin)
This morning Reverend [Martin Luther] King invited me to attend a meeting of the protest committee. The committee decided not to hold any more mass meetings but only prayer meetings. This was to emphasize the moral nature of the struggle. The meetings will center around five prayers: A prayer for the success of the meeting. A prayer for strength of spirit to carry on nonviolently. A prayer for strength of body to walk for freedom. A prayer for those who oppose us. A prayer that all men may become brothers to live in justice and equality.
Bayard Rustin (Down the Line: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin)
As with the legal case of Irene Morgan, the woman arrested in Virginia’s Gloucester County in 1946 for the same infraction, the battle over integration on Montgomery buses eventually won a hearing in front of the Supreme Court. Once again America’s highest court ruled segregation illegal. The controversy over the bus boycott vaulted the young Dr. King into the national headlines as the leader of the civil rights movement. Langley
Margot Lee Shetterly (Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race)
There are, of course, numerous and complex reasons why the Montgomery bus boycott succeeded and why it became the spark for a movement that would spread across the South. But one critical factor is this third aspect of social habits. Embedded within King’s philosophy was a set of new behaviors that converted participants from followers into self-directing leaders.
Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change)
This “schizoid” collective brain cannot act, only react blindly and in misaligned ways to a barrage of stimuli, mostly out of fear and anger. That’s bad news for sustained refusal. While it may seem at first like refusal is a reaction, the decision to actually refuse—not once, not twice, but perpetually until things have changed—means the development of and adherence to individual and collective commitments from which our actions proceed. In the history of activism, even things that seemed like reactions were often planned actions. For example, as William T. Martin Riches reminds us in his accounting of the Montgomery bus boycott, Rosa Parks was “acting, not reacting” when she refused to get up from her seat. She was already involved with activist organizations, having been trained at the Highlander Folk School, which produced many important figures in the movement.40 The actual play-by-play of the bus boycott is a reminder that meaningful acts of refusal have come not directly from fear, anger, and hysteria, but rather from the clarity and attention that makes organizing possible.
Jenny Odell (How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy)
Most people in America, if not the world, would agree that every advance involves some sacrifice. In fact, a common sports adage proclaims: "No pain, no gain." In other words, progress is always accompanied by a certain amount of loss. This concept is illustrated throughout history, literature and personal experience. One compelling illustration that some bad always accompanies some good is demonstrated in the Civil Rights movement. In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. Although she was arrested and jailed, her brave efforts inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott which
Tom Clements (How to Write a Killer SAT Essay : An Award-Winning Author's Practical Writing Tips on SAT Essay)
Through his embedded experience in the Montgomery bus boycotts, Reverend King came to see the limits of Niebuhr’s abstract public theologizing. “Abstractions cannot empower acts of compassion and sacrifice,” Marsh summarizes, “or sustain the courage to speak against the day. Niebuhr’s much-heralded Christian realism was about working out ethical problems within the framework of options provided by Western liberalism. It was not about having a dream.”18 That dream was the kingdom of God, and King learned it at church. But it wasn’t just for the church: it was a vision of what the world was called to be. For King, the realization of this was not some merely evolutionary development but rather a divine gift. “God remains from beginning to end the ultimate agent of human liberation, not only in America but throughout all the nations and in creation.
James K.A. Smith (Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology)