[Marxism] Roland Sheppard on the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 11 14:10:11 MST 2005


(Roland is Barry's brother)

Counterpunch, November 11, 2005
50 Years Later
Lessons from the Montgomery Bus Boycott

By ROLAND SHEPPARD

The fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the year long Montgomery Bus 
Boycott will be celebrated this December. According to the official version 
of the Boycott it was started by Rosa Parks on the evening of December 1, 
1955, when she refused to give up her seat to a white man.

That was the day when the Black population of Montgomery, Alabama, 
democraticly decided that they would boycott the city buses until they 
could sit anywhere they wanted, instead of being relegated to the back when 
a white boarded. It was not, however, the day that the movement to 
desegregate the buses started. Perhaps the movement started on the day in 
1943 when a black seamstress named Rosa Parks paid her bus fare and then 
watched the bus drive off as she tried to reenter through the rear door, as 
the driver had told her to do. Perhaps the movement started on the day in 
1949 when a black professor Jo Ann Robinson absentmindedly sat at the front 
of a nearly empty bus, then ran off in tears when the bus driver screamed 
at her for doing so. Perhaps the movement started on the day in the early 
1950s when a black pastor named Vernon Johns tried to get other blacks to 
leave a bus in protest after he was forced to give up his seat to a white 
man, only to have them tell him, "You ought to knowed better."

The story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott is often told as a simple, happy 
tale of the "little people" triumphing over the seemingly insurmountable 
forces of evil. The truth is a little less romantic and a little more 
complex. As the 50th anniversary of the boycott approaches, Claudette 
Colvin's name and act of courage remain almost unknown -- a lost footnote 
to Rosa Parks' more famous defiance on a city bus that same year. But 
Colvin, a 15-year-old high school student at the time, refused to give up 
her bus seat to a white woman nine months before Parks took her stand. And 
it was a federal court suit involving Colvin that eventually led to a 
Supreme Court order outlawing segregated buses.

Full: http://www.counterpunch.org/sheppard11112005.html

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