Rosa Parks and the Visionary Organizers of Montgomery, Ala. By Grace Lee Boggs

Rosa Parks and the Visionary Organizers of Montgomery, Ala.

By Grace Lee Boggs

Feb 16-23 2013

rosa_parksRosa Parks, “the first lady of civil rights”, and “the mother of the freedom movement,“ was born Rosa Louise McCauley a hundred years ago on February 4, 1913.

Her Centennial was celebrated last week at many events, including the unveiling of a special stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

Most celebrations focused on Rosa’s courage, saying little or nothing about the Montgomery women whose Visionary Organizing of the 13 month Montgomery Bus Boycott launched the civil rights movement.

Their story is told in ‪The Montgomery Bus Boycott
and the Women Who Started It‬, the memoir of Professor Jo Ann Gibson Robinson, ‬ president of the Women’s Political Council (WPC), which had been waiting for the perfect symbol around which to organize a boycott against the racially abusive bus system.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Within two hours of Rosa ’s arrest on Friday afternoon, December 1, 1955, the WPC had blanketed the city with 50,000 “Don’t ride the bus” leaflets and was busy organizing the boycott. Special committees were set up, the main one focusing on transportation.

To keep people off buses, an alternative means of transportation was created. Hundreds of volunteer cars had to be contacted and pooled, and donations determined through cooperative means. Routes were mapped out to get workers to all parts of the city. Regular bus routes were followed so that workers who “walked along” the streets could be picked up.

The pickup system was so effectively planned that many writers described it as comparable in precision to a military operation.

The women’s organizing was so visionary that “the Montgomery Bus Boycott was more than a movement for civil rights. It was also a woman’s movement for dignity, respect and bodily integrity.” (Danielle McGuire: At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance).

It was also so solutionary that by the fall of 1956 a United States Supreme Court decision declared Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses unconstitutional.


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