Montgomery Bus Boycott Leaving Cert History: Case Study

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Montgomery Bus Boycott

Leaving Cert History: Case Study

Why Montgomery?

  • Despite threats and violence, the civil rights movement quickly moved beyond school desegregation to challenge segregation in other areas.

  • In December 1955, Rosa Parks a member of the Montgomery, Alabama, branch of the NAACP, was told to give up her seat on a city bus to a white person.

Parks Arrested

  • When Parks refused to move, she was arrested.

  • The local NAACP, led by Edgar D. Nixon, recognized that the arrest of Parks might rally local African Americans to protest segregated buses.

The Boycott

  • Montgomery’s African American community had long been angry about their mistreatment on city buses where white drivers were rude and abusive.

  • The community had previously considered a boycott of the buses and overnight one was organized.

  • The bus boycott was an immediate success, with almost unanimous support from the African Americans in Montgomery.

Martin Luther King’s involvement

  • A Baptist minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. was president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization that directed the boycott.

  • His involvement in the protest made him a national figure. Through his eloquent appeals to Christian brotherhood and American idealism he attracted people both inside and outside the South.

Martin Luther King a the SCLC

  • King became the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) when it was founded in 1957.

  • The SCLC complemented the NAACP’s legal strategy by encouraging the use of nonviolent, direct action to protest segregation.

  • These activities included marches, demonstrations, and boycotts.

  • The harsh white response to African Americans’ direct action eventually forced the federal government to confront the issue of racism in the South.


  • The boycott lasted for more than a year, expressing to the nation the determination of African Americans in the South to end segregation.

  • In November 1956, a federal court ordered Montgomery’s buses desegregated and the boycott ended in victory.

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