Bernice Albertine King is an American minister and the youngest child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. She was five years old. In her adolescence, King chose to work towards becoming a minister after having a breakdown from watching a documentary about her father. King was 17. Twenty years after her father was assassinated, she preached her trial sermon. Inspired by her parents' activism, she was arrested multiple times during her early adulthood, her mother suffered a stroke in 2005 and, after she died the following year, King delivered the eulogy at her funeral. A turning point in her life, King experienced conflict within her family when her sister Yolanda and brother Dexter supported the sale of the King Center. After her sister died in 2007, she delivered the eulogy for her as well, she supported the presidential campaign of Barack Obama in 2008 and called his nomination as part of her father's dream. King was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 2009.
Her elder brother Martin III and her father had held the position. She was the first woman elected to the presidency in the organization's history, amidst the SCLC holding two separate conventions. King became upset with the actions of the SCLC, amid feeling that the organization was ignoring her suggestions and declined the presidency in January 2010. King became CEO of the King Center only months afterward. King's primary focus as CEO of The King Center and in life is to ensure that her father's nonviolent philosophy and methodology is integrated in various sects of society, including education, business, media and entertainment and sports. King believes that Nonviolence 365 is the answer to society's problems and promotes it being embraced as a way of life. King is the CEO of First Kingdom Management, a Christian consulting firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. Bernice Albertine King was born on March 1963, in Atlanta, Georgia; the day after she was born, her father had to leave for Birmingham, but he rushed back when it was time for Bernice and her mother, Coretta, to leave the hospital.
He drove them home himself but, in what was all too typical with the work he was doing, had to leave them again within hours. Following her birth, Harry Belafonte realized the toll the Civil Rights Movement was taking on her mother's time and energy and offered to pay for a nurse to help Coretta with the Kings' four children, they hired a person that would help with the children for the next five or six years. Her father died a week after Bernice's fifth birthday. Once and her sister Yolanda thought it would be funny to pour water into their father's ear while he was sleeping, their father, was furious. It was the first and only time he would spank them. On, Coretta told Bernice that her father had celebrated her fifth birthday, knowledge, special to her since. King said she has only two strong memories of her father, one of him at home with their family and the other of him lying in the casket at his funeral. "I don't let people know this, but I think of my father constantly," King said at age 19.
"Even though I knew him so little, he left me so much." When her father was assassinated in Memphis, Bernice was asleep. When she woke up, her mother told her. In the April 1998 issue of BET Entertainment Weekly, King reflected, "I was five when my father was assassinated, so I had no concept of who my father was. I have been told, but imagine trying to understand or put it in its proper perspective at that age; when it became clear to me around fifteen or sixteen, I was angry at him because he left me. So I didn't want to have anything to do with my father."After her husband's death, Coretta Scott King took on the role of raising four children as a single mother. Family friends recall that she spent considerable time with Bernice, who feels that being raised by a single parent has given her special insight into single-parent homes. “I didn’t have a father to deal with about boyfriends. I didn't have a father to show me how a woman relate in a family setting; therefore I have given over my life to mentoring young people.
I’m adamant about young people who have been denied a father/daughter relationship.”Other tragedies followed. King's uncle, Alfred Daniel Williams King, drowned in a swimming pool when Bernice was six on July 21, 1969. Five years a mentally ill man shot her grandmother Alberta Williams King to death during a service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on June 30, 1974. King recalled of her grandmother's death, "I remember that day because I had recovered from having my tonsils removed, I was looking forward to getting back to Ebenezer, pastored by my grandfather on my dad's side of the family." Just two years in 1976, her 20-year-old cousin Darlene King died of a heart attack. Her grandfather Martin Luther King Sr. died of a heart attack on November 11, 1984. Her other cousin Alfred King the second in 1986. Finding strength through these childhood tragedies, King jokingly said; some crying. Some screaming." Through all of her struggles, she has looked for someone to relate to in "moments" because "nobody fits the bill."
Her sister, nearly eight years older, lived through parts of the Civil Rights Movement that she never did. On the other hand, she has written that she believes her brothers have had a life different from hers because "Guys process things differently." Bernice has said that the deaths of her grandmother and uncle caused her t
Chicago Freedom Movement
The Chicago Freedom Movement known as the Chicago open housing movement, was led by Martin Luther King Jr. James Bevel and Al Raby; the movement included a large rally and demands to the City of Chicago. These specific demands covered a wide range of areas besides open housing, included quality education and job access and employment, wealth generation and the criminal justice system, community development, tenants rights, quality of life; the Chicago Freedom Movement was the most ambitious civil rights campaign in the North of the United States, lasted from mid-1965 to August, 1966, is credited with inspiring the 1968 Fair Housing Act. During World War I, tens of thousands of African Americans moved to Chicago as part of the many destinations in the Great Migration to urban and industrial centers in the Northeast and Midwest in search of jobs and to escape the Jim Crow laws and racial violence in the rural South. Large numbers of black migrants to the city resided in the South Side area near the established Irish and German American communities as well as neighborhoods of many recent immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.
As a result and racial tensions in the city intensified, as native-born residents and immigrants fiercely competed for jobs and limited housing due to overcrowding. Tensions simmered into the Chicago race riot of 1919 during the Red Summer era, in which ethnic Irish gangs attacked black neighborhoods on the South Side, leading to the deaths of 23 blacks and 15 whites as well as many arson damages to buildings. In the 1920s, the Chicago Real Estate Board established a racially restrictive covenant policy in response to the rapid influx of southern black migrants who were feared in bringing down property values of white neighborhoods. Contractual agreements among property owners included prohibiting sale or lease of any part of a building to specific groups of people African Americans. For the next few decades, blacks were prevented from purchasing homes in certain white neighborhoods in Chicago. Although skilled African Americans gained unprecedented access to city jobs, they were not given as many opportunities for work and were left with less desirable positions, sometimes in dangerous or unpleasant settings.
School boundary lines were drawn to avoid integrating the Chicago Public Schools, African American children attended all-black schools in overcrowded conditions, with less funding in materials. As a result, many black families were locked in the overcrowded South Side in shoddy conditions. In 1910, the population of black residents were 40,000. By 1960, it grew to 813,000, fueled by the Second Great Migration of blacks into the city during World War II to work in the war industries and during the post-war economic expansion; the United States Supreme Court ruled in Shelley v. Kraemer in 1948 that racial covenant policies were unconstitutional, yet such practice continued without opposition over the next two decades. During the post-war economic boom, the Chicago Housing Authority tried to ease the pressure in the overcrowded ghettos and put public housing sites in less congested areas in the city; the white residents did not take this well and reacted with violence when black families tried to move into white areas, so city politicians forced the CHA to keep the status quo and develop high rise projects in black neighborhoods.
Some of these became notorious failures. As industrial restructuring in the 1950s and led to massive job losses to the suburbs amidst the white flight, black residents changed from working-class families to poor families on welfare. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement went under way in order to undue decades of racial segregation, disenfranchisement, discrimination in the United States, with the effort led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Events such as Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, Montgomery bus boycotts, the Little Rock Nine, Nashville sit-ins, the Freedom Summer all helped spurred federal action that break down racial segregation in the South and most were achieved through nonviolent means. While much of the attention was focused on the South, little had been paid to the conditions in the North and West. Civil rights activists attempted to contest the inequities of life in Chicago. In 1962, then-University of Chicago student Bernie Sanders organized a 15-day sit-in with other protesters to challenge the university's alleged off-campus segregated residential properties.
In October 1963, tens of thousands of students and residents boycotted the CPS due to the segregationist policies of Superintendent Benjamin Willis, notorious for placing mobile units on playgrounds and parking lots to solve overcrowding in black schools. While city authorities made a promise to investigate the conditions raised by civil rights activists, they never made a serious effort to take action. Protests, sit-ins, demonstrations in Chicago would continue throughout 1964 and 1965. On August 11, 1965, riots ignited in Watts, a predominantly black section of Los Angeles, after the arrest of a 21-year-old black man for drunk driving; the violence lasted five days and resulted in 34 deaths, 3,900 arrests, the destruction of over 744 buildings and 200 businesses in a 20-square-mile area. The riots shocked the nation and raised awareness of the struggles urban blacks faced outside the South. Martin Luther King told the New York paper that "The non-violent movement of the South has meant little to them, since we have been fighting for rights that theoretically are theirs."
The riots were one of the reasons that helped convinced King and some other civil rights activists to join the ongoing Chicago Freedom Movement in combating th
Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War
Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War began with demonstrations in 1964 against the escalating role of the U. S. grew into a broad social movement over the ensuing several years. This movement informed and helped shape the vigorous and polarizing debate in the United States, during the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s on how to end the war. Many in the peace movement within the U. S. were mothers, or anti-establishment hippies. Opposition grew with participation by the African-American civil rights, women's liberation, Chicano movements, sectors of organized labor. Additional involvement came from many other groups, including educators, academics, lawyers and military veterans, their actions consisted of peaceful, nonviolent events. In some cases, police used violent tactics against peaceful demonstrators. By 1967, according to Gallup Polls, an increasing majority of Americans considered U. S. military involvement in Vietnam to be a mistake, echoed decades by the head of American war planning, former U.
S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara; the draft, a system of conscription that drew from minorities and lower and middle class whites, drove much of the protest after 1965. Conscientious objectors played an active role despite their small numbers; the prevailing sentiment that the draft was unfairly administered inflamed blue-collar American African-American, opposition to the military draft itself. Opposition to the war arose during a time of unprecedented student activism, which followed the free speech movement and the Civil Rights Movement; the military draft mobilized the baby boomers, who were most at risk, but it grew to include a varied cross-section of Americans. The growing opposition to the Vietnam War was attributed to greater access to uncensored information through extensive television coverage on the ground in Vietnam. Beyond opposition to the draft, anti-war protesters made moral arguments against U. S. involvement in Vietnam. That moral imperative argument against the war was popular among American college students, who were more than the general public to accuse the United States of having imperialistic goals in Vietnam and to criticize the war as "immoral."
Civilian deaths, which were downplayed or omitted by the Western media, became a subject of protest when photographic evidence of casualties emerged. An infamous photo of General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan shooting an alleged terrorist in handcuffs during the Tet Offensive provoked public outcry. Another element of the American opposition to the war was the perception that U. S. intervention in Vietnam, argued as acceptable because of the domino theory and the threat of communism, was not justifiable. Some Americans believed that the communist threat was used as a scapegoat to hide imperialistic intentions, others argued that the American intervention in South Vietnam interfered with the self-determination of the country and felt that the war in Vietnam was a civil war that ought to have determined the fate of the country and that America was wrong to intervene. Media coverage of the war shook the faith of citizens at home as new television brought images of wartime conflict to the kitchen table. Newsmen like NBC's Frank McGee stated that the war was all but lost as a "conclusion to be drawn inescapably from the facts."
For the first time in American history, the media had the means to broadcast battlefield images. Graphic footage of casualties on the nightly news eliminated any myth of the glory of war. With no clear sign of victory in Vietnam, American military casualties helped stimulate opposition to the war by Americans. In their book Manufacturing Consent, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman challenge that traditional view of how the media influenced the war and propose that the media instead censored the more brutal images of the fighting and the death of millions of innocent people. If America's soul becomes poisoned, part of the autopsy must read "Vietnam." The U. S. became polarized over the war. Many supporters of U. S. involvement argued for what was known as the domino theory, a theory that believed if one country fell to communism the bordering countries would be sure to fall as well, much like falling dominoes. This theory was held due to the fall of eastern Europe to communism and the Soviet sphere of influence following World War II.
However, military critics of the war pointed out that the Vietnam War was political and that the military mission lacked any clear idea of how to achieve its objectives. Civilian critics of the war argued that the government of South Vietnam lacked political legitimacy, or that support for the war was immoral; the media played a substantial role in the polarization of American opinion regarding the Vietnam War. For example, In 1965 a majority of the media attention focused on military tactics with little discussion about the necessity for a full scale intervention in Southeast Asia. After 1965, the media covered the dissent and domestic controversy that existed within the United States, but excluded the actual view of dissidents and resisters; the media established a sphere of public discourse surrounding the Dove debate. The Dove was a liberal and a critic of the war. Doves claimed that the war was well–intentioned but a disastrously wrong mistake in an otherwise benign foreign policy, it is important to note the Doves did not question the U.
S. intentions in intervening in Vietnam, nor did they question the morality or legality of the U. S. intervention. Rather, they made pragmatic claims. Contra
Crozer Theological Seminary
The Crozer Theological Seminary was a multi-denominational religious institution located in Upland, Pennsylvania. The school succeeded a Normal School established at the site in 1858 by the weathly textile manufacturer John Price Crozer; the Old Main building was used as a hospital during the American Civil War. The seminary served as an American Baptist Church school, training seminarians for the entry into the Baptist ministry from 1869 to 1970. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a student at Crozer Theological Seminary from 1948 to 1951 and graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. In 1970, the seminary merged with the Rochester Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York and the Old Main building was used as office space by Crozer Hospital It is a three-story, "F"-shaped, stucco coated stone building, it has three pavilions connected by a corridor with flanking rooms. Each of the pavilions is topped by a gable roof and cupola, the largest cupola being on the central pavilion; the seminary's grounds are now the Crozer Arboretum.
The Old Main building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The Seminary began as the Normal School of Upland and built by wealthy textile manufacturer John Price Crozer. After the outbreak of the American Civil War, the school was closed. Crozer allowed the Union army to use the building as a hospital during the Civil War; the hospital contained a thousand beds and accommodated 300 nurses and guards. The patients were exclusively Union soldiers except for after the battle of Gettysburg, in July 1863, when the number of wounded and sick Confederate army soldiers left on the battlefield required their acceptance at the hospital. During the war, more than 6,000 patients were treated. After the war, the building was repossessed by Crozer and subsequently sold to Colonel Theodore Hyatt for usage as the Pennsylvania Military Academy until 1868. After Crozer's death in 1866, his family converted the school to the Crozer Theological Seminary in his honor, his son recruited faculty for the new mission.
In 1970 the school moved to Rochester, New York, in a merger that formed the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. The old seminary building was used as the former Crozer Hospital; the building is used as administrative offices for the Crozer-Chester Medical Center. The multi-acre campus contains the Crozer Arboretum and the following buildings: Humpstone President's House Pollard House CHEC Evans House Crozer Hall Neisser House Lewis House Vedder House Davis House Sunnyside House Westin House Franklin House Pearl Hall is a serpentine stone library on the campus which opened on June 4, 1871; the building was sponsored by William Bucknell, the benefactor of Bucknell University, in memory of his late wife Margaret Crozer, the daughter of John Price Crozer. In addition to the $30,000 cost of the building, Bucknell gave $25,000 for the cost of books and $10,000 for an endowment fund. George Barbier, actor J. Pius Barbour, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Chester, executive director of the National Baptist Association, editor of the National Baptist Voice, mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr. first African-American graduate of Crozer Theological Seminary John Warren Davis, New Jersey politician and federal judge, taught Greek and Hebrew at Crozer Theological Seminary for three years Dr. Monroe E. Dodd, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Shreveport, Louisiana from 1912–1950, founder of Dodd College, a pioneer radio minister William Augustus Jones Jr. minister and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Baptist minister and civil rights leader Samuel D. Proctor, minister and humanitarian John Warren Davis, taught Hebrew and Greek for three years Lemuel Moss, professor of New Testament James B.
Pritchard, taught in the chair of Old Testament History and Exegesis Henry Clay Vedder, professor of Church history Uplandboro.org history of Crozer theological seminary Bulletin of The Crozer Theological Society, Volumes 1-3
Poor People's Campaign
The Poor People's Campaign, or Poor People's March on Washington, was a 1968 effort to gain economic justice for poor people in the United States. It was organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, carried out under the leadership of Ralph Abernathy in the wake of King's assassination. The campaign demanded human rights for poor Americans of diverse backgrounds. After presenting an organized set of demands to Congress and executive agencies, participants set up a 3,000-person protest camp on the Washington Mall, where they stayed for six weeks in the spring of 1968; the Poor People's Campaign was motivated by a desire for economic justice: the idea that all people should have what they need to live. King and the SCLC shifted their focus to these issues after observing that gains in civil rights had not improved the material conditions of life for many African Americans; the Poor People's Campaign was a multiracial effort—including African Americans, white Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans—aimed at alleviating poverty regardless of race.
According to political historians such as Barbara Cruikshank, "the poor" did not conceive of themselves as a unified group until President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty identified them as such. Figures from the 1960 census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Commerce Department, the Federal Reserve estimated anywhere from 40 to 60 million Americans—or 22 to 33 percent—lived below the poverty line. At the same time, the nature of poverty itself was changing as America's population lived in cities, not farms. Poor African Americans women, suffered from racism and sexism that amplified the impact of poverty after "welfare mothers" became a nationally recognized concept. By 1968, the War on Poverty seemed like a failure, neglected by a Johnson administration that wanted to focus on the Vietnam War and saw anti-poverty programs as helping African Americans; the Poor People's Campaign sought to address poverty through housing. The campaign would help the poor by dramatizing their needs, uniting all races under the commonality of hardship and presenting a plan to start to a solution.
Under the "economic bill of rights," the Poor People's Campaign asked for the federal government to prioritize helping the poor with a $30 billion anti-poverty package that included, among other demands, a commitment to full employment, a guaranteed annual income measure and more low-income housing. The Poor People's Campaign was part of the second phase of the civil rights movement. King said, "We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty". King wanted to bring poor people to Washington, D. C. forcing politicians to see them and think about their needs: "We ought to come in mule carts, in old trucks, any kind of transportation people can get their hands on. People ought to come to Washington, sit down if necessary in the middle of the street and say,'We are here; the Poor People's Campaign had complex origins. King considered bringing poor people to the nation's capital since at least October 1966, when welfare rights activists held a one-day march on the Mall.
In May 1967 during a SCLC retreat in Frogmore, South Carolina, King told his aides that the SCLC would have to raise nonviolence to a new level to pressure Congress into passing an Economic Bill of Rights for the nation's poor. The SCLC resolved to expand its civil rights struggle to include demands for economic justice and to challenge the Vietnam War. In his concluding address to the conference, King announced a shift from "reform" to "revolution" and stated: "We have moved from the era of civil rights to an era of human rights."In response to the anger that led to riots in Newark and Detroit and his close confidante, Stanley Levison, wrote a report in August which called for disciplined urban disruption in Washington: To dislocate the functioning of a city without destroying it can be more effective than a riot because it can be longer-lasting, costly to society but not wantonly destructive. Moreover, it is more difficult for government to quell it by superior force. Mass civil disobedience can use rage as a creative force.
It is purposeless to tell Negroes. Indeed, they will be mentally healthier if they do not suppress rage but vent it constructively and use its energy peacefully but forcefully to cripple the operations of an oppressive society. Civil disobedience can utilize the militancy wasted in riots to seize clothes or groceries many did not want. Civil disobedience has never been used on a mass scale in the North, it has been organized and resolutely pursued. Too in the past was it employed incorrectly, it was resorted to only when there was an absence of mass support and its purpose was headline-hunting. The exceptions were the massive school boycotts by Northern Negroes, they shook educational systems to their roots but they lasted only single days and were never repeated. If they are developed as weekly events at the same time that mass sit-ins are developed inside and at the gates of factories for jobs, if thousands of unemployed youth camp in Washington, as the Bonus Marchers did in the thirties, with these and other practices, without burning a match or firing a gun, the impact of the movement will have earthquake proportions.
Hampton University is a private black university in Hampton, Virginia. It was founded in 1868 by black and white leaders of the American Missionary Association after the American Civil War to provide education to freedmen, it is home to the Hampton University Museum, the oldest museum of the African diaspora in the United States, the oldest museum in the state of Virginia. In 1878, it established a program for teaching Native Americans that lasted until 1923; the campus looking south across the harbor of Hampton Roads was founded on the grounds of "Little Scotland", a former plantation in Elizabeth City County not far from Fortress Monroe and the Grand Contraband Camp that gathered nearby. These facilities represented freedom to former slaves, who sought refuge with Union forces during the first year of the war; the American Missionary Association responded in 1861 to the former slaves' need for education by hiring its first teacher, Mary Smith Peake, who had secretly been teaching slaves and free blacks in the area despite the state's prohibition in law.
She first taught for the AMA on September 17, 1861, was said to gather her pupils under a large oak. After the tree was the site of the first reading in the former Confederate states of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it was called the Emancipation Oak; the tree, now a symbol of the university and of the city, is part of the National Historic Landmark District at Hampton University. The Hampton Agricultural and Industrial School called the Hampton Institute, was founded in 1868 after the war by the biracial leadership of the AMA, who were chiefly Congregational and Presbyterian ministers, it was first led by former Union General Samuel Chapman Armstrong. Among the school's famous alumni is Dr. Booker T. Washington, an educator who founded the Tuskegee Institute. During the American Civil War, Union-held Fortress Monroe in southeastern Virginia at the mouth of Hampton Roads became a gathering point and safe haven of sorts for fugitive slaves; the commander, General Benjamin F. Butler, determined they were "contraband of war", to protect them from being returned to slaveholders, who clamored to reclaim them.
As numerous individuals sought freedom behind Union lines, the Army arranged for the construction of the Grand Contraband Camp nearby, from materials reclaimed from the ruins of Hampton, burned by the retreating Confederate Army. This area was called "Slabtown."Hampton University traces its roots to the work of Mary S. Peake, which began in 1861 with outdoor classes which she taught under the landmark Emancipation Oak in the nearby area of Elizabeth City County; the newly issued Emancipation Proclamation was first read to a gathering under the historic tree there in 1863. After the War, a normal school was formalized in 1868, with former Union brevet Brigadier General Samuel C. Armstrong as its first principal; the new school was established on the grounds of a former plantation named "Little Scotland", which had a view of Hampton Roads. The original school buildings fronted the Hampton River. Chartered in 1870 as a land grant school, it was first known as Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute.
Typical of black colleges, Hampton received much of its financial support in the years following the Civil War from the American Missionary Association, other church groups and former officers and soldiers of the Union Army. One of the many Civil War veterans who gave substantial sums to the school was General William Jackson Palmer, a Union cavalry commander from Philadelphia, he built the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, founded Colorado Springs, Colorado. As the Civil War began in 1861, although his Quaker upbringing made Palmer abhor violence, his passion to see the slaves freed compelled him to enter the war, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in 1894. Unlike the wealthy Palmer, Sam Armstrong was the son of a missionary to the Sandwich Islands, he had dreams for the betterment of the freedmen. He patterned his new school after the model of his father, who had overseen the teaching of reading and arithmetic to the Polynesians, he wanted to teach the skills necessary for blacks to be self-supporting in the impoverished South.
Under his guidance, a Hampton-style education became well known as an education that combined cultural uplift with moral and manual training. Armstrong said it was an education that encompassed "the head, the heart, the hands." At the close of its first decade, the school reported a total admission in the ten years of 927 students, with 277 graduates, all but 17 of whom had become teachers. Many of them had established themselves in homes. Only a small proportion failed to do well. By another 10 years, there had been over 600 graduates. In 1888, of the 537 still alive, three-fourths were teaching, about half as many undergraduates were teaching, it was estimated that 15,000 children in community schools were being taught by Hampton's students and alumni that year. Among Hampton's earliest students was Booker T. Washington, who arrived from West Virginia in 1872 at the age of 16, he worked his way through Hampton, went on to attend Wayland Seminary in Washington D. C. After graduation, he became a teacher.
Upon recommendation of Sam Armstrong to the founder Lewis Adams and others, of a small new school in Tuskegee Alabama that had begun in 1874. In 1881, Washington went to Tuskegee at age 25 to strengthe
Montgomery bus boycott
The Montgomery bus boycott was a political and social protest campaign against the policy of racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. It was a seminal event in the civil rights movement; the campaign lasted from December 5, 1955 — the Monday after Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person — to December 20, 1956, when the federal ruling Browder v. Gayle took effect, led to a United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws that segregated buses were unconstitutional. Many important figures in the civil rights movement took part in the boycott, including Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy. Prior to the bus boycott, Jim Crow laws mandated the racial segregation of the Montgomery Bus Line; as a result of this segregation African Americans were not hired as drivers, were forced to ride in the back of the bus, were ordered to surrender their seats to white people though black passengers made up 75% of the bus system's riders.
African-American passengers were attacked by bus drivers and shortchanged and left stranded after paying their fares. A number of reasons have been given for why bus drivers acted in this manner, including racism, frustrations over labor disputes and labor conditions, increased animosity towards blacks in reaction to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, with many of the drivers joining the White Citizens Councils as a result of the decision; the boycott took place within a larger statewide and national movement for civil rights, including court cases such as Morgan v. Virginia, the earlier Baton Rouge bus boycott, the arrest of Claudette Colvin for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus; the NAACP had accepted and litigated other cases, including that of Irene Morgan in 1946, which resulted in a victory in the U. S. Supreme Court on the grounds that segregated interstate bus lines violated the Commerce Clause; that victory, overturned state segregation laws only insofar as they applied to travel in interstate commerce, such as interstate bus travel, Southern bus companies circumvented the Morgan ruling by instituting their own Jim Crow regulations.
Further incidents continued to take place in Montgomery, including the arrest for disorderly conduct in May 1951 of Lillie Mae Bradford, who refused to leave the white passengers' section until the bus driver corrected an incorrect charge on her transfer ticket. On February 25, 1953, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana city-parish council passed Ordinance 222, after the city saw protesting from African-Americans when the council raised the city's bus fares; the ordinance abolished race-based reserved seating requirements and allowed the admission of African-Americans in the front sections of city buses if there were no white passengers present, but still required African-Americans to enter from the rear, rather than the front of the buses. However, the ordinance was unenforced by the city bus drivers; the drivers went on strike after city authorities refused to arrest Rev. T. J. Jemison for sitting in a front row. Four days after the strike began, Louisiana Attorney General and former Baton Rouge mayor Fred S. LeBlanc declared the ordinance unconstitutional under Louisiana state law.
This led Rev. Jemison to organize what historians believe to be the first bus boycott of the civil rights movement; the boycott ended after eight days when an agreement was reached to only retain the first two front and back rows as racially reserved seating areas. Black activists had begun to build a case to challenge state bus segregation laws around the arrest of a 15-year-old girl, Claudette Colvin, a student at Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery. On March 2, 1955, Colvin was handcuffed and forcibly removed from a public bus when she refused to give up her seat to a white man. At the time, Colvin was an active member in the NAACP Youth Council. Colvin's legal case formed the core of Browder v. Gayle, which ended the Montgomery bus boycott when the Supreme Court ruled on it in December 1956. In August 1955, scarce months before Parks' refusal to give up a seat on the bus that led to the Montgomery bus boycott, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago named Emmett Till was murdered by two white men, John W. Milam and Roy Bryant.
The picture of his brutally beaten body in the open-casket funeral that his mother requested was publicized by the weekly newspaper Jet, which circulated to much of the black community in the Deep South. His killers' acquittal generated massive outrage, both domestically and internationally, they subsequently admitted they had indeed murdered the boy in an interview on January 24, published in Look magazine. In November 1955, just three weeks before Parks' defiance of Jim Crow laws in Montgomery, the Interstate Commerce Commission, in response to a complaint filed by Women's Army Corps private Sarah Keys, closed the legal loophole left by the Morgan ruling in a landmark case known as Keys v. Carolina Coach Co.. The ICC prohibited individual carriers from imposing their own segregation rules on interstate travelers, declaring that to do so was a violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Interstate Commerce Act, but neither the Supreme Court's Morgan ruling nor the ICC's Keys ruling addressed the matter of Jim Crow travel within the individual states.
Under the system of segregation used on Montgomery buses, the ten front seats were reserved for whites at all times. The ten back seats were supposed to be reserved for blacks at all times; the middle section of the bus consisted of sixteen unreserved seats for whites and blacks on a segregated basis. Whites filled the middle seats from the front to back, blacks filled