Saturday, January 7, 2017
"Turning Points in U.S. History" (series)
12 Incredible Facts about the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Author: Lois Sepahban
Publisher: Peterson Publishing Company, 2016
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Ages: 8-12, MG nonfiction
Montgomery, Alabama’s bus boycott in December 1955 was the onset of the Civil Rights Movement. After passage of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment in 1868 stating that all citizens (born or naturalized), were equal under the law, white southerners in general refused to comply. Laws were passed to segregate the recently freed slaves from full participation in society, banning them from white schools, neighborhoods, restaurants, and more. Eighty-seven years later racial segregation persisted. In 1955, discrimination against blacks in transportation was common, including refusal of service by white taxicab drivers and busing laws that ruled blacks sit in the bus’s rear. Such laws represent the first of twelve facts about the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Most know the story of black resident Rosa Parks (fact two), who sat in the white section of a Montgomery bus refusing to give up her seat, an act that resulted in her arrest. Others before her had protested similarly, like fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin, but Rosa’s arrest was the final straw in the ongoing discrimination. As a result, 95% of Montgomery’s black community refused to ride the buses in protest (fact three). Montgomery police attempted to arrest the boy-cotters, but the blacks remained peaceful and stayed out of sight (fact four). Finally, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. voiced his support of Rosa at a rally (fact five), drawing a crowd of 5000 blacks (fact six).
Meanwhile, Montgomery church volunteers drove the boy-cotters to their jobs, as the bus companies refused to budge (facts seven and eight). King’s arrest soon followed and police began ticketing the volunteer drivers (fact nine). Unfortunately, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) violence erupted next, including the bombing of King’s home (fact ten). Some boy-cotters (115) were then indicted (fact eleven), but in June 1956 the Supreme Court ruled that segregation of blacks on public buses was unconstitutional (fact twelve), ending the boycott. Complete with glossary, photos, and key dates, Sepahban's book is one of many written on the Civil Rights Movement, but the period remains a pivotal time in American history, which needs to be remembered again and again.