11/13/2013 12:40 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This Day In History: Segregation On Buses In Alabama Ruled Unconstitutional

Don Cravens via Getty Images

On November 13th 1957, segregation on buses in Alabama was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

After the arrest of Rosa Parks in December of 1955,when she refused to give up her seat to a white man, Montgomery's black leaders called for a boycott of the buses, and over 90 percent of blacks complied.

montgomery bus boycott

Parks became a symbol of the Montgomery bus boycott. The charge was led by the then recently appointed pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist church, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

King was named the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association and in his first speech as the group's president, King said, "We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice."

Boycotters formed car pools to travel to work or walked. In March of 1956, King was fined $500 for leading an illegal boycott.

The NAACP's legal team, Fred Gray and Charles D. Langford, formally filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Browder, Colvin, McDonald and Smith, the original four women arrested before Parks, on Feb. 1, 1956.

Following the ruling from the Supreme Court, formally known as Browder v. Gayle, the city of Montgomery and the state of Alabama attempted to appeal the decision. The court refused and issued an order on December 20th, 1956 for Montgomery to integrate their buses.

On December 21st, after a 381 day boycott, buses were officially integrated.

King released the following statement ending the boycott, ‘‘The year-old protest against city buses is officially called off, and the Negro citizens of Montgomery are urged to return to the busses tomorrow morning on a non-segregated basis.’’

In January 1957, King along with Reverend Ralph Abernathy, 60 other ministers and civil rights activists created the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to organize a national effort for civil rights reform.

montgomery bus boycott
American Civil Rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.(1929 - 1968) stands in front of a bus at the end of the Montgomery bus boycott, Montgomery, Alabama, December 26, 1956. (Photo by Don Cravens/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)



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