What Led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott?
In the second post-war decade, there were further shifts in the settlement, social-class structure, and position of the United States’ black population, whose origins date back to the war years. A broader scale and faster pace characterized the mass migrations of African-Americans in the context of industrial growth and the intensification of agriculture in the 60s. As before, the black migrated mainly from the South to other parts of the country and from the countryside to the city. It was primarily the masses of black laborers and sharecroppers who migrated.
In addition to such an important “pusher” as poverty, racial oppression, which was still more substantial in the South than in other regions of the country, was of paramount importance. Since racial segregation almost equally infringed upon all African-Americans’ civil rights, the struggle against segregation in this area made it possible to unite. It is understandable why the leaders of the movement for equality in the second half of the 50s focused their primary attention on this area.
On December 5, 1955, the modest black seamstress Rosa Parks from Montgomery, Alabama, refused to obey the city bus’s racist rules. The woman’s courageous act soon led to an organized mass boycott of local urban transport, one of the forms of direct nonviolent mass action tactics developed by the young Negro priest Martin Luther King. This tactic turned out to be much more useful than legalism, which, as a rule, sought to avoid involving the broad masses in struggles. The bus boycott in Montgomery was attended by the representatives of different classes and almost all the black population of the city: workers, employees, students, schoolchildren, homemakers, entrepreneurs, and priests.
The boycott attracted widespread public attention across the country. Montgomery’s successful protest inspired many African-American communities in America to actively resist the racial segregation prevalent in the United States at the time. Moreover, the personality of Martin Luther King became known to the American public, and he became a prominent figure whose words and opinions inspired many people to fight against ethnic inequality. Furthermore, the successful implementation of the nonviolent protest method, which implies sit-down protests without active resistance, has proven effective and has begun to be used throughout Civil Rights Movement.