Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott | Teen Ink
Rosa Parks was not only an influential figure in her own time, she also among them Martin Luther King Jr. Later in life Rosa Parks moved to Detroit, and died On a plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor is a poem by Emma Lazarus. . The Cuban-American Relationship. From Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King: the boycott that inspired the context of race relations that the Montgomery bus boycott unfolded. A Baptist minister by training, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to raise the public Rosa Parks helped contribute to the image that King wanted to show the King felt such a strong connection to Gandhi that he visited India in ; the trip, .
At one point, Parks even made these telling remarks: While I do not think I inherited his hostility, my mother and I both learned not to let anyone mistreat us. It was passed down almost in our genes. When they were first introduced, Raymond was fixated on bringing about justice for the recently imprisoned Scottsboro boys.
The Scottsboro case occurred in March and involved the conviction of eight boys by an all-white jury on charges of raping two white prostitutes on a freight train. The case was in and out of court for six years. Raymond attended regular meetings of the National Committee to Defend the Scottsboro Boys, even though to do so was to risk being beaten or killed. He was the first real activist I ever met. It is one thing to describe an event in impersonal, historical terms; it can be quite another thing to attempt to characterize the emotional and internal influences active in any specific act of volition.
An initial personal influence, and the one that is most commonly mentioned by others, is that she was physically tired after a busy day of work. In her own writings, Parks has consistently challenged this persistent characterization.
If physical fatigue was a factor in her decision not to surrender her seat, it was at best a remote one. I did not hear this until I moved to Detroit in But on that particular day, it was clear that she was burdened by something much weightier than physical weariness. Another personal influence was the disparity Parks experienced between two different bus systems in her own community. Once she left the base, however, she was forced to ride on segregated city buses. A third personal influence is actually a quality of Rosa Parks that is frequently mentioned by those who knew her well, that is, her steely inner strength.
Because I have such high ideals, I feel strongly when they are violated in the world around me. I do not like to see people treated in a way I would not want to be treated. Whenever I see this happening, I do everything in my power to help the cause. One minor incident points this out.
When Parks accepted the scholarship to attend the Highlander Folk School, she supposedly accepted luggage and a swimsuit from Virginia Durr; however, she disputes this detail in her autobiography. It was painful for her. She was a very proud woman, so all of this had to be accomplished with a great deal of tact, which I am not noted for. As an offshoot of this strong sense of pride, an additional personal influence was the fact that Rosa Parks had a lingering resentment toward James F. Blake, the bus driver who confronted her on 1 December She did not know him personally; she did not even learn his name until her subsequent trial.
But they had already had an unfortunate encounter twelve years prior. To understand this earlier incident, some of the arcane rules of bus segregation need to be summarized. Most Montgomery city buses had thirty-six seats in them, with the first ten reserved for whites, the rear ten allocated under the jurisdiction of a pistol-carrying bus driver.
One sad feature of segregation was the habit of many bus drivers to require black passengers to pay for their ticket at the front of the bus, before disembarking and re-boarding at the rear of the bus.
One November day inRosa Parks boarded a bus through the front door and moved to stand in the aisle in the appropriate section in the rear. She had done this because there was no way to enter the bus from the rear, since every seat and place in the stairwell and aisle was already full in the back of the bus. James Blake was the driver that day and demanded that she exit immediately.
Parks refused to move. Blake stood up and began pulling on her coat sleeve. She warned him not to strike her and said that she would leave. For the next dozen years, Parks consciously avoided riding in any bus driven by Blake. The fact that Blake was the precipitator of the famous incident of was only possible because Parks neglected to notice who was driving the bus when it stopped to pick up passengers near her place of work.
And her act of civil disobedience was surely influenced by a long-remembered sense of moral outrage felt toward James Blake. Invariably when Parks is asked about the events of that day, she uses language that is faith-based and confessional in nature. She replied with these two paragraphs: God has always given me the strength to say what is right. I did not get on the bus to get arrested; I got on the bus to go home. Getting arrested was one of the worst days in my life. It was not a happy experience.
Since I have always been a strong believer in God, I knew that he was with me, and only he could get me through the next step. I had no idea that history was being made. I was just tired of giving in.
Somehow, I felt that what I did was right by standing up to that bus driver. I did not think about the consequences. I knew that I could have been lynched, manhandled, or beaten when the police came. I chose not to move, because I was right. When I made that decision, I knew that I had the strength of God and my ancestors with me. She belonged to the African Methodist Episcopal denomination all her life and was proud of the A. Parks insists that she always enjoyed going to worship services and found much comfort and peace while studying the Bible.
In her own words: I have always gained strength from thinking about the bible and from the faith of my family. Church has always been a place where we can turn to God for rest and encouragement.
It lifts the spirit and helps us to go on. This question will be approached from three perspectives.
Inspired by Rosa Parks | dayline.info
First, her prophetic act will be compared with the fourfold rhetorical paradigm put forth by Kevin Friebel. SHe was a victim of both the forces of history and the forces of destiny. Recalling the prophetic acts of Jeremiah surveyed earlier, the first two acts involved specific objects waistcloth, ceramic flask that were manipulated in unusual ways to make theological points.
The last two acts involved deeds done in secret stones of Tahpanhes, scroll thrown into the Euphrates that gave warnings about possible future consequences that would befall the leadership of foreign powers Egypt and Babylon. However, the similarity between them has less to do with the actual act than it does with the concomitant isolation endured by both Jeremiah and Parks.
The king, the ambassadors from other nations, the priests and people of Judah, and the prophet Hananiah himself were all supporters of this political position. Jeremiah alone came forward, wearing an ox-yoke as a symbol of how God ordained continued submission to Babylonian authority.
Whenever Rosa Parks related the details of her act of defiance, it is clear that she acted contrary to the wishes of the presiding authority i. Parks was one of four passengers in her row on the bus; the other three vacated their seats when told to do so by James Blake.
The Value of Sparrows
This effectively isolated Parks as the center of the conflict. Once she refused to move, many of her peers left the bus or asked for transfers, out of a desire to avoid a confrontation. Parks has commented how alone she felt on the bus and when later arrested by the police. There were other people on the bus whom I knew.
But when I was arrested, not one of them came to my defense.
I felt very much alone. One man who knew me did not even go by my house to tell my husband I had been arrested. Everyone just went on their way. In jail I felt even more alone. For a moment, as I sat in that little room with bars, before I was moved to a cell with two other women, I felt that I had been deserted. This description could be interpreted as mirroring the isolation felt by the prophet Jeremiah, both in his act of prophetism before King Zedekiah and his time of rebuke following the breaking of his wooden yoke by the prophet Hananiah.
As has been mentioned, making this land purchase during a time of enemy siege was dangerous and foolhardy. It created the appearance that Jeremiah was in league with the Babylonians, hoping to retain possession of the land once the invading army conquered Jerusalem. By refusing to move, her widely known reputation as an upright citizen of Montgomery was now at risk of being forever redefined as that of a questionable troublemaker.
In the aftermath of her act, Parks received a barrage of death threats. Parks also knew that she was endangering her entire family, including her frail mother. Yet she agreed to make her legal case a means to challenge the status quo with its unjust laws of segregation. Both acts used a present event to show forth a possible future reality. And both acts took place out of a foundation of communal faith and religious conviction, including the belief that God would have it be so.
It was a deliberate and specific nonverbal act, performed by a person actively grounded in a faith community. It was communicative and interactive, preceded by a sense of divine presence and call, and followed by interpretative acts i.
Before leaving the story of Rosa Parks, one final moment of prophetic irony deserves to be mentioned. The Montgomery bus boycott lasted for thirteen months, until December when the Supreme Court rejected the segregationist position of the Montgomery City Commission and ordered that, by 20 December, all the buses be integrated by law. It is included in anthologies and read as part of contemporary history class curricula. In Julyhe went into town to get a shoe from the cobbler, when he was arrested for refusing to pay a required, nine shilling poll tax.
Thoreau apparently did not do any writing while in jail, choosing to spend his time either reading or in conversation with his cellmate. King was kept in solitary confinement, yet he did manage to compose the bulk of his letter while under arrest. However, both authors wrote powerfully in the first person, Both quoted extensively in their essays from other sources, often having to do so from memory. And both pondered the difficult question of whether unjust laws should be obeyed until amended or transgressed at once to provoke change.
There is a direct relationship between the respective documents of Thoreau and King: I remembered how, as a college student, I had been moved when I first read this work. I became convinced that what we were preparing to do in Montgomery was related to what Thoreau had expressed. Many negative influences and obstacles made King hesitant to agree to march on 11 April But by refusing to be dissuaded from a course of action that he believed to be faithful and just, King set in motion a series of events that led to his arrest and to the composition of his prophetic essay against the flawed practice of racial segregation.
That campaign had begun with a Freedom Ride in December But after a lengthy series of marches, sit-ins, prayer vigils, and demonstrations, little significant change had been accomplished. King himself admitted how the hostile national press made his work in Birmingham immensely more difficult: In Montgomery, during the bus boycott, and in the Albany, Georgia, campaign, we had had the advantage of a sympathetic and understanding national press from the outset.
In Birmingham we did not. It is terribly difficult to wage such a battle without the moral support of the national press to counteract the hostility of local editors.How Did Martin Luther King Jr. Get a Holiday?
Yet people who used this argument were ignorant of the background of our planning. They did not know we had postponed our campaign twice. Above all they did not realize that it was ridiculous to speak of timing when the clock of history showed that the Negro had already suffered one hundred years of delay. In NovemberBirmingham voters rejected the old commission form of government in favor of a mayor and council structure.
King initially delayed the Birmingham campaign until after the 5 March election, but had to delay the campaign a second time when the election failed to produce a clear winner. At that time, hopes were raised when moderate segregationist Albert Boutwell defeated Bull Connor in the mayoral runoff election on 2 April. White moderates and many members of the black community believed that prospects looked good for quickening the pace of interracial progress.
Another barrier facing King was the slow start he had witnessed in the overall Birmingham campaign. During the first eight days of the effort, fewer than people had been jailed; when by comparison, nearly twice that number had been jailed in Albany on the first day of protest in that much smaller community.
He also knew that there was widespread resentment from local activists due to a lack of communication when planning strategy and organizing events. With the new unity that developed and now poured fresh blood into our protest, the foundations of the old order were doomed. This obstacle came in the form of a court injunction issued on Wednesday, 10 Aprilwhich expressly forbade King and other civil rights leaders from taking part in any marches, sit-ins, or demonstrations.
Jenkins now meant any action by King would involve defying both local law enforcement authorities and the state court. To contravene this injunction would mark the first time King or his group had officially defied a court order. It was a highly charged moment in the Birmingham campaign. When the deputy sheriff came to the Gaston Motel to present King with the court order, a group of reporters huddled nearby behind their cameras and microphones anxious for his response. A sixth barrier was the lack of bail money available should King be arrested and thrown into jail.
This was one of the main concerns King discussed with his advisers as they met to make plans for a possible protest march on Good Friday. Soon after King and his associates had announced that they would defy the court injunction by leading a Good Friday protest march, news reached them that their appointed bail bondsman had reached his credit limit.
This meant anyone sent to jail would have no assurance of an early release. Fifty people were waiting in the wings to join King in prison, which would comprise the largest single group arrested in Birmingham up to that date. For over two hours, King consulted with two dozen people in his motel suite. Surrounded by twenty-four pairs of eyes, King knew that if he backed out of his promise to go to jail, he would be reneging on his word after a recent public announcement about his imminent arrest.
He would be rejecting the very path of incarceration he had just spent weeks recruiting and urging hundreds of other Birmingham citizens to follow. Many people argued that the timing of his movement was wrong, insisting that it did not allow for possible reforms to occur under the leadership of Albert Boutwell, and that it would anger the white business owners whose sales would be hurt by a protest over the Easter holidays.
But many of the other concerns faced by King were of a more personal nature and thus harder to rebut. An initial personal challenge that King had to face in deciding to go to jail was the immediate needs of his family.
His wife, Coretta, had given birth to their fourth child, Bernice Albertine, just one week prior to the start of the Birmingham campaign.
King had left for Birmingham the day after his daughter was born, returning back to Atlanta briefly to take his wife home from the hospital, but leaving that afternoon for further planning sessions. A second personal barrier was the steady stream of opposition King faced from various members of the African American community in Birmingham.
Others showed their opposition by refusing to answer the call at the mass meeting for more protest marchers, out of legitimate fear of arrest and loss of employment.
Taken together, King faced the challenge of trying to lead a divided community in Birmingham, thereby making a successful outcome to his efforts including being sent to jail far from certain.
Another personal barrier was the fact that almost his entire close circle of personal advisers and friends advised King not to march or join protest efforts that would lead to his arrest in Birmingham.
Also raising objections to King as they met in Room 30 of the Gaston MOtel was his own father, who strongly questioned the wisdom of violating the court order. King had already spent time in jail before and was well aware of the personal risk he faced once he was locked up away from supportive crowds and media attention.
He was afraid of what might happen in jail and worried about not getting released anytime soon. All of the aforementioned reasons, both political and personal, converged on King during the two-hour session in the Gaston Motel that Good Friday morning. I sat in the midst of the deepest quiet I have ever felt, with two dozen others in the room.
There comes a time in the atmosphere of leadership when a man surrounded by loyal friends and allies realizes he has come face-to-face with himself. I was alone in that crowded room. I walked to another room in the back of the suite, and stood in the center of the floor. I think I was standing also at the center of all that my life had brought me to be.
I thought of the twenty-four people, waiting in the next room. I thought of the three hundred, waiting in prison. I thought of the Birmingham Negro community, waiting. She marched with Martin Luther King many miles in her efforts to gain equality for all.
Vera was instrumental with the bus boycott, in Montgomery Alabama, working closely with Rosa Parks. Having met Rosa Parks at Montgomery Fair, Rosa was a seamstress there and Vera operated the elevator, she was familiar with both sides of the boycott movement. Willie Barrow spent decades on the front lines of the civil rights movement. Known as the "little warrior," she was an advocate for issues ranging from women's rights to AIDS awareness.
Virginia Durr was a lifelong civil rights advocate and humanitarian, whose parents bailed Rosa Parks out of jail after she was arrested in for refusing to give up her bus seat. She spent a lot of her career talking to groups across the country such as interracial councils dedicated to desegregation. Irene published several articles supporting school integration from Her work allowed her to meet many people, including influential leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tom was particularly attuned to the situation of those who were poor or disadvantaged, and never forgot that he too had overcome a difficult childhood. He will be greatly missed by his family and all who knew him. This notable tribute was in appreciation for his community service while in Atlanta, Georgia. The longtime Utah resident was a pioneer in her adopted home state: