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: Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to the crowd

Head Note: At this Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) weekly meeting, King speaks to the crowd.

Democracy gives us this right to protest and that is all weíre doing.... We can say honestly that we have not advocated violence3, have not practiced it and have gone courageously on with a Christian movement. Ours is a spiritual movement depending on moral and spiritual fortitude. The protest is still going on. (Great deal of applause here)....

Freedom doesnít come on a silver platter.1 With every great movement toward freedom there will inevitably be trials. Somebody will have to have the courage to sacrifice. You donít get to the Promised Land without going through the Wilderness.2 You donít get there without crossing over hills and mountains, but if you keep on keeping on, you canít help but reach it. We wonít all see it, but itís coming and itís because God is for it....

We wonít back down. We are going on with our movement.

Let us continue with the same spirit, with the same orderliness, with the same discipline, with the same Christian approach. I believe that God is using Montgomery as his proving ground.... God be praised for you, for your loyalty, for your determination. God bless you and keep you, and may God be with us as we go on.

1This reference means that freedom does not come easily; someone will not simply give you freedom.

2This is a religious reference to the stories of the Hebrew Bible that suggests that you will not be successful without first facing many challenges.

3The principles of nonviolence hold that protesters educate the public about the injustice they wish to change. Nonviolent direct action, such as sit-ins and boycotts, force the perpetrators of injustice to address the concerns of the protesters. By refusing to engage in violence, the protesters provide an example of love and civil conduct that will change the attitudes of the public and those who commit injustice.

Source: Excerpts from a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., as reported by Anna Holden, a teacher at Fisk University. March 22, 1956. Montgomery, Alabama.

USE THE NOTEBOOK (instructions):

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

Who was King's audience? What does that imply about King's intentions in this speech?

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

What does this document suggest are key factors in the success of the boycott?

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

Find and list four references to religion in this speech. How does King use religion in this speech? What does this imply about the role of religion in the boycott?

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