Montgomery, Alabama - Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, on a Montgomery city bus. The bus driver told Rosa Parks to give up her seat. By law, black people were required to give up their seat, when ordered.
Parks decided not to obey. This was 100 days after Emmett Till was murdered. Parks said ... I thought of Emmett Till, and when the bus driver ordered me to move to the back (of the bus), I just couldn't move.
The white bus driver called the local police. Parks was arrested and booked, by the Montgomery Police.
This event launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Before Rosa Parks
Montgomery, Alabama - The Montgomery Bus Boycott began. This was days after the arrest of Rosa Parks. She was tried on charges of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance. The trial was only 30 minutes. Parks was found guilty. Her fine was ten dollars ($10). Plus, there were four dollars ($4) in court costs.
Parks appealed her conviction. This was a direct challenge to the law of racial segregation.
On December 1st, the night of Parks' arrest, the Women's Political Council (WPC) gave out leaflets. It showed the start of the boycott, on Monday, December 5th.
On Saturday, December 3rd, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) made a list of demands to be met. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the MIA.
On December 7th, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) called the boycott an 'agitation among negroes.' The FBI tried to find 'derogatory information' to discredit King.
Montgomery, Alabama - The leaders of the Montgomery Bus Boycott gave themselves to the police. The City of Montgomery decided that the boycott was illegal, from a 1921 law.
Tuesday, February 21st, 1956, 89 were charged with an illegal boycott. The charged included Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, and Edgar Nixon.
On Wednesday, February 22nd, all 89 peacefully went to the police station. All were booked and released on bond.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was the only one who went to trial. Judge Eugene W. Carter found King guilty. King was fined $500, plus $500 for court costs. King appealed the verdict. Judge Carter changed the sentence to 386 days of jail.
King said, 'I was optimistic enough to hope for the best but realistic enough to prepare for the worst. This will not mar or diminish in any way my interest in the protest. We will continue to protest in the same spirit of nonviolence and passive resistance, using the weapon of love.'
On April 30th, 1957, King's appeal was denied. The Court of Appeals ruled his lawyers missed the 60-day deadline. December 1957, King paid the fine.
Montgomery, Alabama - The Montgomery Bus Boycott ended. It lasted 1 year and 2 weeks. Martin Luther King, Jr. read a prepared statement. 2,500 people, at Holt Street and First Baptist Churches came to hear it.
King urged 'the Negro citizens of Montgomery to return to the buses tomorrow morning on a non-segregated basis.' A person, from the audience, asked about segregated benches downtown. King said the Supreme Court ruling was only for city buses.
King said 'it is true we got more out of this (boycott) than we went in for. We started out to get modified segregation (on buses) but we got total integration.' This was from a Birmingham News account.
At 6:00 a.m., December 21st, 1956, King joined E. D. Nixon, Ralph Abernathy, and Glenn Smiley on one of the first integrated buses. There were only a few instances of verbal abuse and occasional violence.
The Montgomery Advertiser wrote, 'The calm but cautious acceptance of this significant change in Montgomery’s way of life came without any major disturbances.'
Witchita, Kansas - 20 year-old Ron Walters began one of the first sit-in protests against segregation. He had the help of his 19-year-old cousin, Carol Parks-Hahn. It took place at Dockum Drug Store (southeast corner of Douglas and Broadway).
Birmingham, Alabama - The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) planned protests of racial segregation. These protests were led by Martin Luther King, James Bevel, and Fred Shuttlesworth. King called Birmingham the most segregated city in the country.
As the protests continued, volunteers ran low. It was decided to include children. They came from elementary, middle, and high school.
The Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene 'Bull' Connor acted against the children. Connor sent high pressure water hoses and attack dogs at the children. Hundreds of children and adults were arrested.
40% of Birmingham's population was black. Yet, none worked for the Birmingham Police Department.
Images of this period showed the harsh brutality of segregation in the South. Whites attacked defenseless and huddled children, because of skin color. The children were no threat to anyone.
Jackson, Mississippi - Medger Evers was murdered, at his home. The murderer, Byron De La Beckwith, was tried and convicted.
Early Wednesday morning, Medger Evers returned home to his waiting wife and children. Evers got out of his car. He carried T-shirts that read 'Jim Crow Must Go' in his hands. There, he was shot in the back, from an Enfield 1917 rifle. The bullet struck the 37 year-old Evers through his heart.
After the shot, Evers staggered 30 feet, to the front door of his house. There he collapsed. His wife, Myrtle, found him there.
Evers was taken to the local hospital. He was refused entry, because he was black. His family explained who he was and the hospital admitted him. Evers was in the hospital for 50 minutes, and died.
On June 19th, 1963, Evers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in the funeral procession. Evers' funeral got full military honors.
Myrtle Evers fought to get the murderer convicted. On February 5th, 1994, Byron De La Beckwith was convicted of Evers' murder. It took 30 years, but Evers' murderer was sent to prison. Beckwith died in prison on Jaunary 21st, 2001.
Washington, D. C. - At the March on Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to the crowd. It was his 'I Have A Dream' speech.
The event was formally known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It took place at the National Mall. 250,000 attended.
Selma, Alabama - Reverend C.T. Vivian led the first Selma march. It was to end at the courthouse in Marion, Alabama. The march protested the arrest of James Orange. He was a member of the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL).
In Marion, Alabama state troopers attacked the marchers. Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot by white police. Jackson was shot as he tried to protect his mother and grandfather from the police.
Jackson was denied medical care in Marion. He was moved twenty (20) miles to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma. On February 26th, Jackson died, in the hospital.
Selma, Alabama - White state troopers and sheriff workers attacked hundreds of black civil rights marchers. The march was to go 54 miles. The route went from Selma to Montgomery, the Alabama state capital.
The march was a protest of a death from the first Selma march. His name was Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young black man. The other goal, of the march, was to get black people able to vote.
Over five hundred (500) marched toward the Edmund Pettus Bridge. There Alabama state troopers and sheriff workers waited. Once the marchers reached the other side of the bridge, the Alabama state troopers told them to stop and disperse.
The marchers walked off the bridge and the Alabama troopers and sheriff workers attacked. They used tear gas, batons, kicked, and beat the unarmed marchers. The march was stopped. It never made it out of Selma.
Selma, Alabama - A third Selma march began. It was to end in Montgomery, the state capitol.. It began at Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Thousands began the march.
Unlike the earlier Selma marches, the march itself was peaceful. It had the support of President Johnson and military protection. More than 20,000 took part.
After the march, Viola Liuzzo was killed, by the KKK. She came from Detroit to join the march. As she and a black teenager drove marchers back to Selma, the KKK shot, into the car.
Liuzzo was killed by the gunfire. Le Roy Moton, who was in the car with her, was unharmed. He was nineteen (19) years of age. This helped push whites to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Washington, D. C. - A gathering of a million black American men took place at the National Mall, for one day. Men from across the United States came to attend the event. It was conducted peacefully, and without major incident.
Baltimore, Maryland - A local protest began Saturday, April 18th, over the Sunday, April 12th arrest of 25 year-old Freddie Gray, for possession of a knife. The protests began outside the Western district police station, in Baltimore.
The following day, Freddie Gray was killed, while in police custody, on Sunday, April 19th. It was the day after the protests began. For the next 2 weeks, the protests intensified and became violent. Eventually, the Maryland National Guard would take the streets of Baltimore.
There were hundreds of injuries, arrests, fires, and some businesses were looted. The city of Baltimore imposed a curfew and some parts of Baltimore were effectively shutdown during this period.
6 employees of the Baltimore Police Department were arrested. 3 were tried and found not guilty. Charges were dropped against the other 3.
No one was held criminally responsible for the murder of Freddie Gray, while in the custody of the police of the City of Baltimore.