History,  Stateside

From the Vaults: New York Times, December 6, 1955

Fifty five years ago today, Rosa Parks, a black woman, travelled on a bus in Montgomery Alabama. When requested, she refused to vacate her seat for a white person and move to the back of a bus. For this act of defiance she was arrested. The trial took place a few days later on December 5, 1955 where Parks was fined $10 plus $4 of costs. The cumulative effect of Parks’ initial act of defiance, her arrest and the court case led to a boycott campaign of buses in Montgomery. Publicity increased and the pressure was on. Within a year, the racial segregation practised on buses in Montgomery was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Rosa Parks became a heroine of the civil rights movement. She died five years ago. At her funeral attended by thousands, Barack Obama declared: “when the history of this country is written, it is this small, quiet woman whose name will be remembered long after the names of senators and presidents have been forgotten.”

Below I copy an extract from the New York Times from the day after her initial trial:


Montgomery, Ala., Negroes Protest Woman’s for Defying Segregation

New York Times, December 6, 1955, p.31.

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Dec. 5 (AP) – A court test of segregated transportation loomed today following the arrest of a Negro who refused to move to the colored section of a city bus.

While thousands of other Negroes boycotted Montgomery city lines in protest, Mrs. Rosa Parks was fined $14 in Police Court today for having disregarded last Thursday a driver’s order to move to the rear of a bus. Negro passengers ride in the rear of buses here, white passengers in front under a municipal segregation ordinance.

An emotional crowd of Negroes, estimated by the police at 5,000, roared approval tonight at a meeting to continue the boycott.

Spokesmen said the boycott would continue until people who rode buses were no longer “intimidated, embarrassed and coerced.” They said a “delegation of citizens” was ready to help city and bus line officials develop a program that would be satisfactory and equitable….

Other Negroes by the thousands, meanwhile, found other means of transportation or stayed home today in an organized boycott of City Line Buses, operated by a subsidiary of National City Lines at Chicago.

The manager, J. H. Bagley, estimated that “80 or maybe 90 per cent” of the Negroes who normally used the buses had joined the boycott….