Fifty years ago this December, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus she was riding. Because she wouldn’t, the whole country has changed. But what happened to the bus?
We can only imagine what James F. Blake must have been thinking when he pulled his bus into the yard of the Montgomery Bus Lines at the end of his run on December 1, 1955. For the most part, it had been a routine day’s work, but that one incident where the black woman had refused to move to the back of the bus had to have been infuriating. Still, Blake had done what he thought he was supposed to do, and the police had come and taken her off to jail.
the henry ford, dearborn, mich.2005_6_60
The Montgomery Bus Boycott and its legacy
December 1, 1955, was a cool, drizzly night in Montgomery. James F. Blake, a veteran of World War II and a veteran bus driver, was maneuvering the bus he normally took on the Montgomery Avenue route through downtown toward Cleveland Avenue on the city’s west side.
A century after passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, many Southern blacks still were denied the vote. In 1965 Martin Luther King, Jr, set out to change that—by marching through the heart of Alabama.
From the frozen steps of Brown Chapel they could see the car moving toward them down Sylvan Street, past the clapboard homes and bleak, red-brick apartments that dotted the Negro section of Selma, Alabama.
When one weary woman refused to be harassed out of her seat in the bus, the whole shaky edifice of Jim Crow began to totter