VisionThought's Blog
Perspective for A New Vision

December 4, 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott: When The Black Church Was Relevant


There was a time when the Black Church was relevant,where the institution spoke to the spiritual needs as well as the social concerns of its parishioners.

55  years ago was such a time, when the Black Church was instrumental in implementing the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott began on December 4, 1955  and  officially ended December 20, 1956.

Inspired by the brutal racist murder of Emmett Till,  On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks chose to not comply with the white supremacist Jim Crow Laws and refused to give up her seat, when ordered to do so by the bus driver.

 Four days prior to her arrest, Parks attended an event at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Civil Rights icon T.R.M. Howard an invited guest of Dr.King,  spoke on the slaying of Emmet Till.  Emmett Till was on her mind when she refused to give up her seat.

Till was murdered by a group of white men in Mississippi on August 28, 1955 for supposedly whistling at white woman. Till who was visiting the Mississippi area from Chicago, Illinois. Due to the courageous decision of  Till’s mother  Mamie Carthan to have an open casket funeral  and the support of the Black Press, many were aware of the violent racist act.

Rosa Parks speaking on her decision to refuse giving up her seat:

People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

The Montgomery Bus Boycott would last for 381 days, despite threats and retaliation from the racist power structure in Alabama. The effort of  persons of African ancestry led to “severely damaging the bus transit company’s finances, until the law requiring segregation on public buses was lifted.”

The boycott resulted in a crippling financial deficit for the Montgomery public transit system, because the city’s population of African ancestry who were the initiator of the boycott were also the bulk of the system’s ridership.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott led to the start of the modern Civil Rights Movement and the ascendancy of Dr. Martin Luther King , who was the chief spokesperson for the Montgomery efforts. It is an example of historical irony that Mississippi, the state where Emmett Till was murdered would also be the place where King was assassinated.

Today in spite of having a person of  African ancestry, Barack Obama as president of the United States, the world is need of spiritually based social movement seeking not the rewards of this world.

Today the Black Church seems to be preoccupied with individual prosperity without the concern of collective empowerment.

When we see the high levels of unjust incarceration among people of African ancestry, economic disparity and unequal education despite years of integration, The 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott should serve as a model and inspiration for the Black Church to reclaim its collective soul.

©VisionThought 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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3 Responses to “December 4, 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott: When The Black Church Was Relevant”

  1. Enjoyable read. I wish I had the motivation to write such good posts onto my own blog. It is hard.

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