Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-56

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott,
Rosa Parks
Not long ago it was legal to discriminate against black people in the United
States. That’s when Rosa McCauley was growing up in Montgomery,
Alabama. When Rosa was 11, she went into a store with her cousin, Annie
Mae, who asked for a soda. The answer: “We don’t serve sodas to colored
people.” This was legal, but Rosa knew it was wrong. Years later, in 1955,
Rosa Parks (her married name) had a chance to act courageously on her
convictions. By law, black people had to sit in the back of city buses and stand
if a white person needed a seat. Parks refused to give up her seat to a white
man. She was arrested. This led blacks to boycott, or not use, Montgomery
buses until the unjust law was changed. Rosa Parks has been called the
“mother of the civil rights movement.”
National Geographic
Lunch Counter Sit–in, Jackson Mississippi, 1963
The Sit-In Movement
In addition to Martin Luther King Jr., many individuals,
including students, helped lead the struggle for African
American civil rights. Black youth began to peacefully
demonstrate by sitting at “whites only” lunch counters to
protest segregated facilities. Black and white students joined in
the “sit ins” and as a peaceful way to demonstrate against unfair
March on Washington, 1963
The 1963 March on Washington
Over a quarter of a million people from across the nation
gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. The
march was successful and received great publicity.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the
March on Washington, 1963
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream
The most positive and memorable speech of the day came from King. “I have a
dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its
creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all mean are created equal’
he said. “I have a dream that my four children. . .will not be judged by the
color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
In the spring of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the civil rights bill
into law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned the separation of people based
on race, called segregation, in public places. It made it illegal to discriminate
against a person when hiring based on his or her skin color, race, religion and
national origin. The act also banned discrimination against women seeking jobs
Freedom Summer
Over 1,000 volunteers traveled to Southern cities and
towns in the summer of 1964. They went door-to-door
to meet residents and held classes on how to fill out
voter registration forms and answer questions. Workers
tried to build confidence and motivation toward
becoming active citizens in their communities.
march, 1965
Voting Rights
On March 7, 1965, hundreds of civil rights supporters
attempted a historic 54-mile march from Selma to
Montgomery, Alabama. They were protesting laws that
prevented African Americans from voting in Alabama,
but they were stopped and attacked by police shortly
after starting. On Sunday, March 21, about 3,200
marchers set out again. When they arrived in
Montgomery on March 25, there were about 25,000
protesters from around the country who completed
the march. Their efforts helped pass the 1965 Voting
Rights Act, which guaranteed voting rights for
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