Montgomery Bus Boycott
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The Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, was a political and social protest campaign against the policy of racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. The campaign lasted from December 1, 1955—when Rosa Parks, an African American woman, was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person—to December 20, 1956, when a federal ruling, ''Browder v. Gayle'', took effect, and led to a United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses to be unconstitutional.〔(Montgomery Bus Boycott ) ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans〕 Many important figures in the Civil Rights Movement took part in the boycott, including Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy.
==Events leading up to the bus boycott==
In 1944, while a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army, future athletic star Jackie Robinson took a similar stand in a confrontation with another Army officer in Fort Hood, Texas, by refusing to move to the back of a bus. Robinson was brought before a court-martial, which acquitted him.〔Jessica McElrath, (Jackie Robinson ) profile, about.com. (archived from (the original ) on 2006-06-18)〕
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 grounds that the segregated interstate bus lines violated the Commerce Clause. That victory, however, overturned state segregation laws only insofar as they applied to travel in interstate commerce, such as interstate bus travel, and Southern bus companies immediately circumvented the Morgan ruling by instituting their own Jim Crow regulations.
On February 25, 1953, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana city-parish council passed Ordinance 222, after the city saw protest from African-Americans when 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 largely unenforced by the city bus drivers. The drivers later 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 lead 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.〔
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 ''Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company''. 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.
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