Black History Month — 2019: “Nah.” ~ Rosa Parks
Her refusal to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus spurred a city-wide boycott
Let me tell you something
As a kid growing up in South Jersey, I remember taking the Speedline to Philadelphia. I also have memories of taking the Greyhound bus from NJ to Baltimore to visit my family. Both were always an adventure. I’d think, “Are we gonna make it in time?” “Will there be enough seats?” “What is that smell?” “Why is that dude talking to himself?” I moved to Maryland in 1996. My second full-time job was in Alexandria, VA off of North Beauregard St. Yes, Beauregard. (Jesus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._G._T._Beauregard) Anyway, I used to wake up at the butt crack of stupid to catch METRO from MD to VA then hop on a bus to my job. It wasn’t that bad. This is, of course, before METRO became an unreliable joke of a transit system.
What I never had to encounter was segregation on public transportation. I was never told to sit anywhere, get off, or worse, not let on the bus or train. The treatment of minorities in the U.S. is unbelievable. When I hear the “United States of America is the greatest country on the planet”, sometimes it makes me wonder, “if so, why did America have to make laws stating discrimination, segregation, and violence against minorities were illegal?” Shouldn’t that have been understood?
Okay, though not the first person to say, “Nah!” When told to give her seat to a white man, Rosa Parks was the most famous. Nine months before Rosa Parks, a 15-year-old high school student, named Claudette Colvin, became the first to refuse to give up her seat. The arrest of Rosa Parks in December of 1955 sparked what’s now known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Many also regard it as the first large-scale demonstration against segregation in America. Remember, this was 1955….1955.
The boycott of public buses in Montgomery began on the day of Parks’ court hearing and lasted 381 days. (Full disclosure: I hate walking) Uber or Lyft didn’t exist. Many Blacks and Whites boycotted public transportation for 381 days. (Man, I guess for my culture IF Martin Luther King Jr. got me some kinda comfort shoes, I’d walk too)
On February 1, 1956, Gray filed the case Browder v. Gayle in U.S. District Court. On June 13, 1956, the District Court ruled that “the enforced segregation of black and white passengers on motor buses operating in the City of Montgomery violates the Constitution and laws of the United States,” because the conditions deprived people of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. The court further enjoined the state of Alabama and the city of Montgomery from continuing to operate segregated buses.
The case was not completed until it was heard later that year by the US Supreme Court, as the state and city appealed the decision. On November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court upheld the District Court’s ruling and ordered the state of Alabama (and Montgomery) to desegregate its buses. One month later on December 20, after Mayor Gayle was handed official written notice by federal marshals, the Montgomery buses were desegregated.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks
“An American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The United States Congress has called her the first lady of civil rights and the mother of the freedom movement.”(Wikipedia)
Black History Month is a time when we all get to dig a little deeper. Learning is fun, and February is exceptionally awesome. There’s always little tidbits or iconic figures that I never heard of. As many of you know I like to focus on a certain topic for Black History Month. It helps me learn, and hopefully you as well. Last year’s topic was civil disobedience. For 2019: The Role of Black Women Played to Shape Our History. — Mark