Why did the boycott of Montgomery's buses succeed? (Read each source below, then answer the questions in the notebook. Ask your teacher for an inquiry organizer worksheet to help you think about the ways that the sources support and contradict each other.)


READ: Letter from Durr to Director of Highlander Folk School

Head Note: Virginia Foster Durr was a white woman who supported civil rights for African Americans in Montgomery. Here, Durr writes the director of the Highlander Folk School and his wife. Highlander was a center for training civil rights activists and labor organizers.

January 30, 1956

Dear Myles and Zilphia:

I just received a communication from there giving a summary of the past year’s activities and I think you should add how much you had to do with the Montgomery Bus Boycott which is really making history and is of the deepest significance. LIFE, TIME, CBS, NBC, and countless other papers have been down here covering it… I think it is the first time that a whole Negro community has ever stuck together this way and for so long and I think they are going to win it.

But how your part comes in is through the effect the school had on Mrs. Parks. When she came back she was so happy and felt so liberated and then as time went on she said the discrimination got worse and worse to bear AFTER having, for the first time in her life, been free of it at Highlander. I am sure that had a lot to do with her daring to risk arrest1 as she is naturally a very quiet and retiring person although she has a fierce sense of pride and is, in my opinion, a really noble woman. But you and Zilphia should certainly take pride in what you did for her and what she is doing....

Lots of love to all, come and see for yourself.


1This is a reference to the previous summer when Rosa Parks attended a civil rights activist training session at Highlander. Mrs. Durr helped connect Parks with the Hortons who ran the Highlander Folk School.

Source: Excerpt from a letter written by Virginia Foster Durr to Myles and Zilphia Horton, January 30, 1956. Montgomery, Alabama.

USE THE NOTEBOOK (instructions):

To answer these questions, log in below

Sourcing: Consider a document's attribution (both its author and how the document came into being).

What is the author's skin color? Why might that be important?

Contextualizing: Situate the document and events it reports in place and time.

According to Durr, what did Myles and Zilphia Horton have to do with the Montgomery Bus Boycott?

Close Reading: Read carefully to consider what a source says and the language used to say it.

Most textbooks refer to Rosa Parks as a tired seamstress. What image of Rosa Parks does this letter convey?

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