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: Interview about the boycott

Head Note: Researchers from Fisk University visited Montgomery, Alabama, during the boycott to learn more and to document the movement. Researcher Willie Lee recorded this woman's ideas about the boycott during an interview at a car pool dispatch center.

Maid: This stuff has been going on for a long time. To tell you the truth, it’s been happening ever since I came here before [World War II]. But here in the last few years they’ve been getting worse and worse. When you get on the bus they yell: "Get on back there"... and half of the time they wouldn’t take your transfer, then they make you get up so white men could sit down where there were no seats in the back. And you know about a year ago they put one of the high school girls in jail 'cause she wouldn't move.1 They should have boycotted the buses then. But we are sure fixing 'em now and I hope we don’t ever start back riding... We [are] people, we are not dogs or cats.... All we want 'em to do is treat us right. They shouldn’t make me get up for some white person when I paid the same fare and I got on first. And they should stop being so nasty.... We pay just like the white folks....

[The bus companies] are the ones losing the money and our preachers say we will not ride unless they give us what we want.... You see the business men are losing money too, because people only go to town when they have to.... When you do something to my people you do it to me too....

1This is a reference to the arrest of Claudette Colvin, a high school student who refused to give up her seat and was arrested.

Source: Excerpt from an interview conducted by Willie Lee, January 1956. Montgomery, Alabama.

USE THE NOTEBOOK (instructions):

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

What experiences and events motivate this woman to continue boycotting the buses?

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

What does this woman want as a result of the boycott?

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

Whose direction does this woman follow?

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