Saturday, January 7, 2017

12 Incredible Facts about the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Lois Sepahban: Book Review

"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
Pages: 32

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.


  1. It is a shame about the U.S. History and that, in some cases, the attitudes have not changed especially since the KKK is still alive and well. This lady and many others whose names we don't know are heroic and very, very brave

    1. I once naively thought it was a generation thing. The 60s would fix all that nonsense, but attitudes of prejudice are still strong, and surprisingly the KKK. Thanks for your input Birgit!

  2. Imagine trying to arrest people for NOT doing something, ie catching the bus. Or for giving lifts to others. What a horrible place and time! I agree with Birgit that things haven't completely changed, though.

    1. Hard to imagine. It would help our understanding to walk in their shoes for a day. I'm thankful for true stories like this that give us an inkling of what it was like and also alert us how easily we could slip back. Thanks Sue!

  3. Most interesting to read Sharon, I too agree it must have been a horrible place. It is good to see gow things were and to appreciate the good things of today.


    1. I remind myself I should never tire of hearing this familiar story. Yes, much has improved, and I hope many have experienced this for real, but such discrimination could happen again and we must guard against that. Thanks, Yvonne!

  4. Such a pivotal point in history, for sure. As scary as things still are today, can't imagine what it must've been like to live back then...

    1. Yes, indeed, and of course Martin Luther King, Jr's story took Rosa's story to a new level. We must never forget his sacrifice and that of others in the Civil Rights Movement. It scares me today how easily we forget the past and our country's history. I can't imagine what it was truly like for Rosa and others, but we should never stop trying. Thanks for commenting, Heather!


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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.