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: Handbill from Central Alabama Citizens Council rally

Head Note: This handbill was given out at a rally in Montgomery organized by the Central Alabama Citizens Council. 10,000 white citizens attended. Leaders of Montgomery’s local government—including Mayor Gayle—spoke to the crowd about preventing integration.

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to abolish the Negro race3, proper methods should be used. Among these are guns, bows and arrows, sling shots and knives.

We hold these truths to be self evident that all whites are created equal with certain rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of dead niggers.

In every stage of the bus boycott we have been oppressed and degraded because of black slimy, juicy, unbearably stinking niggers. The conduct should not be dwelt upon because behind them they have an ancestral background of Pigmies, head hunters1 and snot suckers.

My friends it is time we wised up to these black devils. I tell you they are a group of two legged agitators who persist in walking up and down our streets protruding their black lips. If we don’t stop helping these African flesh eaters, we will soon wake up and find Rev. King in the White House.


The Book "Declaration of Segregation" will appear April, 1956. If this appeals to you be sure to read the book.

1These were all racist, derogatory phrases for African Americans.

2Citizens Councils were founded in Alabama after the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, which called for the desegregation of schools. Their goal was to "preserve the sanctity of the South." In other words, they aimed to maintain a system of racial segregation and white supremacy.

3On January 30, 1956, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s house was bombed But, violence was not only perpetrated against the leaders of the movement. The massive numbers of African Americans who participated in the boycott faced the possibility of having things thrown at them from passing cars, receiving threats over the telephone, being subject to violent beatings, and having crosses burned in their yards.

Source: Handbill produced by the Central Alabama Citizens Council, February 10, 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).

When was this written? Given the timing, what might the authors' intentions be in writing and sharing this document?

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

Consider the phrases and images used to describe African Americans. What obstacles to desegregation does this document show?

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

What historic document is this modeled after? What does this tell us about how the authors viewed themselves?

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