NewsBlack History Month


The evolution of the Montgomery Bus Boycott from 1956 to 2023

The Evolution of the Protest
Posted at 2:05 PM, Feb 23, 2023

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Montgomery Bus Boycott was an important civil rights protest focused on African Americans protesting segregated bus seating in Montgomery, Alabama.

They pushed for the change to have this removed but protestors eventually gave themselves up for arrest, following demands from white city leaders promoting segregation. Among those arrested was Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.

According to The King Center website, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to nearly 5,000 people at the Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery on Dec. 5, 1955 saying [months before he was arrested with Rosa Parks]:

“Just the other day, just last Thursday to be exact, one of the finest citizens in Montgomery not one of the finest Negro citizens, but one of the finest citizens in Montgomery-was taken from a bus and carried to jail and because she refused to get up to give her seat to a white person. Now the press would have us believe that she refused to leave a reserved section for Negroes but I want you to know this evening that there is no reserved section. The law has never been clarified at that point. Now I think I speak with, with legal authority-not that I have any legal authority, but I think I speak with legal authority behind me -that the law, the ordinance, the city ordinance has never been totally clarified.”

Many still remember the days that these protest were happening — one here in the Coastal Bend — Joe Alexander, who said the actions in Montgomery left a lasting impact.

"Oh, I was overjoyed really to know someone was doing something," he said.

On June 5, 1956, a Montgomery federal court ruled that any law requiring racially segregated seating on buses was a violation the 14th Amendment to the U.S.

The 14th Amendment, Section 1 states:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

"It's important for people to understand that protest at both that time and now is an American Activity,” Matt Manning, a partner at Webb and Cason Manning said. “I think it's kind of been co-opted by the niceties that we live in now, but if you think about it, this country itself was founded upon the idea."

More than six decades later, protests have become a part of society and a American tradition. People like Manning believed they have evolved over the years.

"So, I think that protest is so important because it's really not that long ago," Manning said. "It was within some (KRIS 6 News) viewers lives that this boycott happened. I think it's important for people to realize that we have to stand up where we think something is wrong and particularly where we think we're not getting the fullness of our rights."

One of the most recent demonstrations that sparked national attention was when former 49er's quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem back in 2016.

While there were mixed reactions, Manning believed that Kaepernick was exercising his First Amendment right (to protest).

“Do exactly what you want to do to tell the powers that be exactly how you feel about their policies and/or what you are happy with or unhappy with," Manning said.

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