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Mother Of The Civil Rights Movement

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The fight for recognition of Afro-Americans spearheaded the Civil Rights movement. Discrimination, separation and inequality existed prior to the passing of the legislation prohibiting discrimination in 1963. Afro-Americans were treated like, and thought of as, second class citizens. On this day, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat at the front of the bus and move to the back where Afro-Americans were supposed to be seated. By Rosa not giving up her seat, she would spark a series of events that would change our nation. Following Rosa's act of defiance, others stepped up and organized sit-ins, protest marches, and the famous bus boycott.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. Jim Crow laws reserved the front seats for whites. Blacks were to sit at the back of the bus, or middle, if it was not occupied by whites. The bus driver refused to move the bus until Rosa Parks moved to the back of the bus. Police were called to the scene and Rosa Parks was arrested, taken to jail, and fined for violating a city ordinance. She cited her lifelong acquaintance with fear as the reason for her relative fearlessness, in deciding to appeal her conviction. "I didn't have any special fear," she said, "it was more of a relief to know that I wasn't alone." (Academy of Achievement)

This was the start of the "Montgomery Bus Boycott," which called for Afro-Americans to find other means of transportation, catch a cab, walk, do whatever that did not include the busing system. The demonstrator's slogan was "People don't ride the bus today. Don't ride it for Freedom," sometimes they got help from members of the White Community. This was the beginning of an 11-month boycott, which involved about 42,000 Afro-Americans, or about 75% of the bus riders in Montgomery, Alabama. Needless to say, this boycott nearly bankrupted the local bus companies. Even with the massive revenue loss, the bus companies refused to give in to the protest. The Klu Klux Klan, and other white groups, attempted to support the companies, in opposition of integration. Even with the support they received, they were not able to continue on without being profitable. The boycott would eventually take its toll on the busing companies.

In November 1956, the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregation on city buses is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court decision struck down the Montgomery ordinance under which Mrs. Parks had been fined, and outlawed racial segregation on public transportation. The bus companies would eventually agree all travelers had the same rights, regardless of



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