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: Bayard Rustin's diary

Head Note: Bayard Rustin, an African American civil rights activist, traveled to Montgomery to advise Dr. King and support the bus boycott. Though he was eventually asked to leave Montgomery because leaders feared his reputation as a gay Communist would hurt the movement, he kept a diary of what he found.

February 24

42,000 Negroes have not ridden the busses since December 5. On December 6, the police began to harass, intimidate, and arrest Negro taxi drivers who were helping get these people to work. It thus became necessary for the Negro leaders to find an alternativeó-the car pool. They set up 23 dispatch centers where people gather to wait for free transportation.

This morning Rufus Lewis, director of the pool, invited me to attend the meeting of the drivers. On the way, he explained that there are three methods in addition to the car pool, for moving the Negro population:

1) Hitch-hiking.

2) The transportation of servants by white housewives.

3) Walking.

Later he introduced me to two men, one of whom has walked 7 miles and the other 14 miles, every day since December 5.

"The success of the car pool is at the heart of the movement," Lewis said at the meeting. "It must not be stopped."

I wondered what the response of the drivers would be, since 28 of them had just been arrested on charges of conspiring to destroy the bus company. One by one, they pledged that, if necessary, they would be arrested again and again.

Source: Excerpt from Bayard Rustinís Montgomery Diary, February 24, 1956. Montgomery, Alabama.

USE THE NOTEBOOK (instructions):


These definitions should help with reading comprehension.

  • dispatch station: a central place where cars came to pick up and drop off riders

The Economics of the Boycott

Listen to Historian Mike O'Malley discuss the economic strategy behind the boycott.

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