Yesterday marked the 55th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the “colored” section of a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her act of civil disobedience led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasted for more than a year, until the US Supreme Court ruled segregated seating on public buses unconstitutional. On December 20, 1956, the day the federal ruling took effect, an integrated group of Montgomery Bus Boycott supporters, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy, rode the city’s buses. Here is a great picture from that day, showing what we so rarely get to see: concrete victory.
At the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis there is a great exhibit on the bus boycott with an actual bus from that era. When you walk onto the bus, which has a surprisingly accurate Rosa Parks mannequin sitting in one of the seats, the feeling is somewhat overwhelming. Rarely does history seem so present and immediate. The whole museum is like that and I highly recommend a visit.