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Negroes end Montgomery bus boycott

Rosa Parks sits up front of a Montgomery, Ala. bus on December 21,1956, one year after she refused to give up her seat to a white man and was arrested. United Press reporter Nicholas Chriss, who arranged the photo, sits behind her. File photo by UPI
Rosa Parks sits up front of a Montgomery, Ala. bus on December 21,1956, one year after she refused to give up her seat to a white man and was arrested. United Press reporter Nicholas Chriss, who arranged the photo, sits behind her. File photo by UPI

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Dec. 21, 1956 (UP) A white dime store clerk sat down beside a Negro maid Friday on a city bus here, bringing to full climax the long struggles of Negroes to win equal seating facilities on city buses in the deep South.

Montgomery's year-long bus boycott by Negroes came to an end as the first vehicles moved out on routes through this citadel of racial segregation.

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At first Negroes and whites, although riding the same buses, took separate seats. But it was not until the early morning rush of passengers going to work that the city's segregation barriers really crumbled.

Linda Russell, 18-year-old white girl who clerks in a five-and-ten store, got on a crowded bus. Without hesitation she took a seat beside Arsulla Henry, Negro domestic servant.

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Eyebrows went up all over the vehicle and there was just a moment of tension. Then it passed and the bus moved on without incident.

All was peace and quiet in the first hours after the local buses began their morning runs. Negroes were exhorted by their leaders to refrain from touching off an incident that could explode into fresh racial violence.

Since the boycott started Dec. 7, 1955, following the arrest of a Negro woman for sitting in the front (white) section of a bus - numerous incidents have kept racial tension alive here.

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The few white passengers noticed by reporters who were riding the early routes did not interfere with the arrangement, nor did most seem to be much interested. One was heard to mutter to the driver, however, that "this is only a test case."

The "test case" went to the U.S. Supreme Court which last week formally turned down the city's appeal of a previous decision that the buses could not be segregated. Orders to lift the barriers were received here Thursday and the Negroes wasted no time starting to enjoy their new-won privilege.

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