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That Saturday Morning was a unusually cold and gray. The temps were down in the 30's and the wind was cold and blustery from the North. As the Boy's wandered around Montgomery's Downtown (which was a ghost town, with no one around!) they saw all the sights and places that were associated with the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Civil Rights Tour Stop. The Montgomery Bus Boycott
Rosa Parks a person well known in Detroit lit the match that sparked much of the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery. In November 1955, just three weeks before Parks' defiance of Jim Crow laws in Montgomery, the Interstate Commerce Commission, in response to a complaint filed by Women's Army Corps private Sarah Keys, closed the legal loophole left by the Morgan ruling in a landmark case known as Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company. The ICC prohibited individual carriers from imposing their own segregation rules on interstate travelers, declaring that to do so was a violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Interstate Commerce Act. But neither the Supreme Court's Morgan ruling nor the ICC's Keys ruling addressed the matter of Jim Crow travel within the individual states.
Black activists had begun to build a case to challenge state bus segregation laws around the arrest of a 15-year-old girl, Claudette Colvin, a student at Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery. On March 2, 1955, Colvin was handcuffed, arrested and forcibly removed from a public bus when she refused to give up her seat to a white man. At the time, Colvin was an active member in the NAACP Youth Council, a group to which Rosa Parks served as Advisor.
Under the system of segregation used on Montgomery buses, white people who boarded the bus took seats in the front rows, filling the bus toward the back. Black people who boarded the bus took seats in the back rows, filling the bus toward the front. Eventually, the two sections would meet, and the bus would be full. If other black people boarded the bus, they were required to stand. If another white person boarded the bus, then everyone in the black row nearest the front had to get up and stand, so that a new row for white people could be created. Often when boarding the buses, black people were required to pay at the front, get off, and reenter the bus through a separate door at the back. On some occasions bus drivers would drive away before black passengers were able to re-board. National City Lines owned the Montgomery Bus Line at the time of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was a seamstress by profession; she was also the secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. Twelve years before her history-making arrest, Parks was stopped from boarding a city bus by driver James F. Blake, who ordered her to board at the back door and then drove off without her. Parks vowed never again to ride a bus driven by Blake. As a member of the NAACP, Parks was an investigator assigned to cases of sexual assault. In 1945, she was sent to Abbeville, Alabama, to investigate the gang rape of Recy Taylor. The protest that arose around the Taylor case was the first instance of a nationwide civil rights protest, and it laid the groundwork for the Montgomery bus boycott.
In 1955, Parks completed a course in "Race Relations" at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee where non-violent civil disobedience had been discussed as a tactic. On December 1, 1955, Parks was sitting in the front most row for black people. When a Caucasian man boarded the bus, the bus driver told everyone in her row to move back. At that moment, Parks realized that she was again on a bus driven by Blake. While all of the other black people in her row complied, Parks refused, and was arrested for failing to obey the driver's seat assignments, as city ordinances did not explicitly mandate segregation but did give the bus driver authority to assign seats. Found guilty on December 5, Parks was fined $10 plus a court cost of $4, but she appealed.
Some action against segregation had been in the works for some time before Parks' arrest, under the leadership of E. D. Nixon, president of the local NAACP chapter and a member of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Nixon intended that her arrest be a test case to allow Montgomery's black citizens to challenge segregation on the city's public buses. With this goal, community leaders had been waiting for the right person to be arrested, a person who would anger the black community into action, who would agree to test the segregation laws in court, and who, most importantly, was "above reproach". When Colvin was arrested in March 1955, Nixon thought he had found the perfect person, but the teenager turned out to be pregnant. Nixon later explained, "I had to be sure that I had somebody I could win with." Parks was a good candidate because of her employment and marital status, along with her good standing in the community.
Between Parks' arrest and trial, Nixon organized a meeting of local ministers at Martin Luther King, Jr.'s church. Though Nixon could not attend the meeting because of his work schedule, he arranged that no election of a leader for the proposed boycott would take place until his return. When he returned, he caucused with Ralph Abernathy and Rev. E.N. French to name the association to lead the boycott to the city (they selected the "Montgomery Improvement Association", "MIA"), and they selected King (Nixon's choice) to lead the boycott. Nixon wanted King to lead the boycott because the young minister was new to Montgomery and the city fathers had not had time to intimidate him. At a subsequent, larger meeting of ministers, Nixon's agenda was threatened by the clergymen's reluctance to support the campaign. Nixon was indignant, pointing out that their poor congregations worked to put money into the collection plates so these ministers could live well, and when those congregations needed the clergy to stand up for them, those comfortable ministers refused to do so. Nixon threatened to reveal the ministers' cowardice to the black community, and King spoke up, denying he was afraid to support the boycott. King agreed to lead the MIA, and Nixon was elected its treasurer.
The Boycott-On the night of Rosa Parks' arrest, the Women's Political Council, led by Jo Ann Robinson, printed and circulated a flyer throughout Montgomery's black community that read as follows: Another woman has been arrested and thrown in jail because she refused to get up out of her seat on the bus for a white person to sit down. It is the second time since the Claudette Colvin case that a Negro woman has been arrested for the same thing. This has to be stopped. Negroes have rights too, for if Negroes did not ride the buses, they could not operate. Three-fourths of the riders are Negro, yet we are arrested, or have to stand over empty seats. If we do not do something to stop these arrests, they will continue. The next time it may be you, or your daughter, or mother. This woman's case will come up on Monday. We are, therefore, asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial. Don't ride the buses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere on Monday. You can afford to stay out of school for one day if you have no other way to go except by bus. You can also afford to stay out of town for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off all buses Monday.
The next morning there was a meeting led by the new MIA head, King, where a group of 16 to 18 people gathered at the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church to discuss boycott strategies. At that time Rosa Parks was introduced but not asked to speak, despite a standing ovation and calls from the crowd for her to speak; when she asked if she should say something, the reply was, "Why, you've said enough." A citywide boycott of public transit was proposed to demand a fixed dividing line for the segregated sections of the buses. Such a line would have meant that if the white section of the bus was oversubscribed, whites would have to stand; blacks would not be forced to give up their seats to whites.
This demand was a compromise for the leaders of the boycott, who believed that the city of Montgomery would be more likely to accept it rather than a demand for a full integration of the buses. In this respect, the MIA leaders followed the pattern of 1950s boycott campaigns in the Deep South, including the successful boycott a few years earlier of service stations in Mississippi for refusing to provide restrooms for blacks. The organizer of that campaign, T. R. M. Howard of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, had spoken on the brutal slaying of Emmett Till as King's guest at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church only four days before Parks's arrest. Parks was in the audience and later said that Emmett Till was on her mind when she refused to give up her seat.
The MIA's demand for a fixed dividing line was to be supplemented by a requirement that all bus passengers receive courteous treatment by bus operators, be seated on a first-come, first-served basis, and that blacks be employed as bus drivers. The proposal was passed, and the boycott was to commence the following Monday. To publicize the impending boycott it was advertised at black churches throughout Montgomery the following Sunday.
On Saturday, December 3, it was evident that the black community would support the boycott, and very few blacks rode the buses that day. On December 5th, a mass meeting was held to determine if the protest would continue. Given twenty minutes notice, King gave a speech asking for a bus boycott and attendees enthusiastically agreed. Starting December 7, Hoover's FBI noted the "agitation among negroes" and tried to find "derogatory information" about King.
The boycott proved extremely effective, with enough riders lost to the city transit system to cause serious economic distress. Martin Luther King later wrote "[a] miracle had taken place." Instead of riding buses, boycotters organized a system of carpools, with car owners volunteering their vehicles or themselves driving people to various destinations. Some white housewives also drove their black domestic servants to work. When the city pressured local insurance companies to stop insuring cars used in the carpools, the boycott leaders arranged policies with Lloyd's of London.
Black taxi drivers charged ten cents per ride, a fare equal to the cost to ride the bus, in support of the boycott. When word of this reached city officials on December 8, the order went out to fine any cab driver who charged a rider less than 45 cents. In addition to using private motor vehicles, some people used non-motorized means to get around, such as cycling, walking, or even riding mules or driving horse-drawn buggies. Some people also hitchhiked. During rush hours, sidewalks were often crowded. As the buses received few, if any, passengers, their officials asked the City Commission to allow stopping service to black communities. Across the nation, black churches raised money to support the boycott and collected new and slightly used shoes to replace the tattered footwear of Montgomery's black citizens, many of whom walked everywhere rather than ride the buses and submit to Jim Crow laws.
In response, opposing whites swelled the ranks
of the White Citizens' Council, the membership of which doubled during the
course of the boycott. The councils sometimes resorted to violence: King's and
Abernathy's houses were firebombed, as were four black Baptist churches.
Boycotters were often physically attacked. After the attack at King's house, he
gave a speech to the 300 angry African Americans who had gathered outside. He
said "If you have weapons, take them home; if you do not have them, please do
not seek to get them. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence.
We must meet violence with nonviolence. Remember the words of Jesus: "He who
lives by the sword will perish by the sword". We must love our white brothers,
no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. Jesus
still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: "Love your enemies;
bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you". This is
what we must live by. We must meet hate with love. Remember, if I am stopped,
this movement will not stop, because God is with the movement. Go home with this
glowing faith and this radiant assurance. "
King and 89 other boycott leaders and carpool drivers were indicted for conspiring to interfere with a business under a 1921 ordinance. Rather than wait to be arrested, they boldly turned themselves in as an act of defiance.
King was ordered to pay a $500 fine or serve 386 days in jail. He ended up spending two weeks in jail. The move backfired by bringing national attention to the protest. King commented on the arrest by saying: "I was proud of my crime. It was the crime of joining my people in a nonviolent protest against injustice."
Victory - Pressure increased across the country. The related civil suit was heard in federal district court and, on June 4, 1956, the court ruled in Browder v. Gayle (1956) that Alabama's racial segregation laws for buses were unconstitutional. As the state appealed the decision, the boycott continued. The case moved on to the United States Supreme Court. On November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court upheld the district court's ruling, issuing its decision in December, followed quickly by a court order to the state to desegregate the buses.
The boycott officially ended December 20, 1956, after 381 days. The city passed an ordinance authorizing black bus passengers to sit virtually anywhere they chose on buses. The Montgomery Bus Boycott resounded far beyond the desegregation of public buses. It stimulated activism and participation from the South in the national civil rights movement and gave King national attention as a rising leader.
Aftermath - White backlash against the court victory was quick, brutal, and, in the short-term, effective. Two days after the inauguration of desegregated seating, someone fired a shotgun through the front door of Martin Luther King's home. A day later, on Christmas Eve, white men attacked a black teenager as she exited a bus. Four days after that, two buses were fired upon by snipers. In one sniper incident, a pregnant woman was shot in both legs. On January 10, 1957 bombs destroyed five black churches and the home of Reverend Robert S. Graetz, one of the few white Montgomerians who had publicly sided with the MIA.
The City suspended bus service for several weeks on account of the violence. According to legal historian Randall Kennedy, "When the violence subsided and service was restored, many black Montgomerians enjoyed their newly recognized right only abstractly... In practically every other setting, Montgomery remained overwhelmingly segregated..." On January 23, a group of Klansmen (who would later be charged for the bombings) lynched a black man, Willie Edwards Jr., on the pretext that he was dating a white woman.
The City's elite moved to strengthen segregation
in other areas, and in March 1957 passed an ordinance making it "unlawful for
white and colored persons to play together, or, in company with each other . . .
in any game of cards, dice, dominoes, checkers, pool, billiards, softball,
basketball, baseball, football, golf, track, and at swimming pools, beaches,
lakes or ponds or any other game or games or athletic contests, either indoors
or outdoors." Later in the year, Montgomery police charged seven white men with
the bombings, but all of the defendants were acquitted. About the same time, the
Alabama Supreme Court ruled against Martin Luther King's appeal of his "illegal
boycott" conviction. Rosa Parks left Montgomery due to death threats and
employment blacklisting and ended up in Mike and Bone Hometown of Deetroit.
Sadly according to Charles Silberman, "by 1963, most Negroes in Montgomery had
returned to the old custom of riding in the back of the bus."
After a night and morning of Montgomery, they boys were hungry for happier places and, well, they were just plain hungry !!!!
Now local diners are always a crap shoot. Some of the best eats are the grungy hole-in-the-wall joints you mostly drive by. Mike and Bone always made it a point to check out such joints, so after checking out a military base that Mike's Dad had been stationed at (where the Military cops told Mike and Bone they were NOT allowed to even take pictures of the Base from the outside ??!!), they noticed a local joint right outside the Base's entrance,,, so the food hadda be good for the soldiers? Right !??
Not so much. Everything was pretty much horrible. so with heavy hearts and heartburn, the Boys headed further southwest into Bama to go on the warpath with the Red Sticks at Horse Shoe Bend !
The Battle of Horse Shoe Bend
Being in the area (ok! three hours in the area) Bone dragged Mike to a pivotal Battle in the War of 1812, Since the Battle of the River Raisin was in Monroe Michigan, Bone felt empowered to show Mike every Ware of 1812 site he could find and since the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, was fought during the War of 1812 in central Alabama Bone hadda check it out !
The Battle of Horse Shoe Bend occurred on March 27, 1814, where United States forces and Indian allies under Major General Andrew Jackson defeated the Red Sticks, a part of the Creek Indian tribe who opposed American expansion, effectively ending the Creek War, is considered part of the War of 1812. The Creek Indians of Georgia and Alabama had become divided into two factions: the Upper Creeks (or Red Sticks), a majority who opposed the American expansion and sided with the British and Spanish during the War of 1812, and the Lower Creek, who were more assimilated, had a stronger relationship with the US Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins, and sought to remain on good terms with the Americans.
The Shawnee leader Tecumseh went to Creek and other Southeast Indian towns in 1811–12 to recruit warriors to join his war against American encroachment. The Red Sticks, young men who wanted to revive traditional religious and cultural practices, were already forming, resisting assimilation. They began to raid American frontier settlements. When the Lower Creek helped United States forces capture and punish leading raiders, they were punished by the Red Sticks. In 1813, militia troops intercepted a Red Stick party returning from obtaining arms in Pensacola. While they were looting the material, the Red Sticks returned and defeated them, at what became known as the Battle of Burnt Corn. Red Sticks raiding of enemy settlements continued, and in August 1813 they attacked Fort Mims in retaliation for the Burnt Corn attack.
After that massacre, frontier settlers appealed to the government for help. As Federal forces were devoted to the War of 1812, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama organized militias that were commanded by Colonel Andrew Jackson, together with Lower Creek and Cherokee allies, to go against the Red Sticks. Jackson and his forces won the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. Horseshoe Bend was the major battle of the Creek War, in which Andrew Jackson sought to "clear" Alabama for American settlement. Colonel Jackson commanded an army of Tennessee militia, which he had turned into a well-trained fighting force. Added to the militia units was the 39th United States Infantry and about 600 Cherokee, Choctaw and Lower Creek fighting against the Red Stick Creek. After leaving Fort Williams in the spring of 1814, Jackson's army cut its way through the forest to within 6 miles of Chief Menawa's Red Stick camp of Tohopeka, near a bend in the Tallapoosa River, called "Horseshoe Bend," in central Alabama, 12 miles east of what is now Alexander City. Jackson sent General John Coffee with the mounted infantry and the Indian allies south across the river to surround the Red Sticks' camp, while Jackson stayed with the rest of the 2,000 infantry north of the camp.
Bone reciting Cannon
On March 27, 1814, General Andrew Jackson led troops consisting of 2,600 American soldiers, 500 Cherokee, and 100 Lower Creek allies up a steep hill near Tohopeka, Alabama. From this vantage point, Jackson would begin his attack on a Red Stick Creek fortification. At 6:30am, he split his troops and sent roughly 1300 men to cross the Tallapoosa River and surround the Creek village. Then, at 10:30 a.m., Jackson's remaining troops began an artillery barrage which consisted of two cannons firing for about two hours. Little damage was caused to the Red Sticks or their 400 yard long log-and-dirt fortifications. In fact, Jackson was quite impressed with the measures the Red Sticks took to protect their position. As he later wrote: “ It is impossible to conceive a situation more eligible for defense than the one they had chosen and the skill which they manifested in their breastwork was really astonishing. It extended across the point in such a direction as that a force approaching would be exposed to a double fire, while they lay entirely safe behind it. It would have been impossible to have raked it with cannon to any advantage even if we had had possession of one extremity.” Soon, Jackson ordered a bayonet charge. The 39th U.S. Infantry, led by Colonel John Williams, charged the breastworks defending the camp and caught the Red Sticks in hand-to-hand combat. Sam Houston (the future statesman and politician) served as a third lieutenant in Jackson's army. Houston was one of the first to make it over the log barricade alive and received a wound from a Creek arrow that troubled him the rest of his life. Meanwhile, the rest of Jackson's troops, under the command of General John Coffee, had successfully crossed the river and surrounded the encampment. They joined the fight and gave Jackson a great advantage. The Creek warriors refused to surrender, though, and the battle lasted for more than five hours. At the end, roughly 800 of the 1000 Red Stick warriors present at the battle were killed. In contrast, Jackson lost fewer than 50 men during the fight and reported 154 wounded. Chief Menawa was severely wounded but survived; he led about 200 of the original 1,000 warriors across the river and into safety among the Seminole tribe in Spanish Florida.
Mike, checking out an American that didn't make it
As a result of the victory on August 9, 1814, Andrew Jackson forced the Creek to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson. The Creek Nation was forced to cede 23 million acres, half of central Alabama and part of southern Georgia to the United States government; this included territory of the Lower Creek, who had been allies of the United States. Jackson had determined the areas from his sense of security needs. Of the 23 million acres Jackson forced the Creek to cede 1.9 million acres , which was claimed by the Cherokee Nation, which had also allied with the United States. Jackson was promoted to Major General after getting agreement to the treaty. It is very likely that this victory, along with that at the Battle of New Orleans, greatly contributed to Jackson's favorable national reputation and his popularity. It was a fact that he was well known when he ran successfully for president in 1828. Interestingly two currently active battalions of the Regular Army (2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 7th Infantry Regiment) perpetuate the lineage of the old 39th Infantry Regiment, which fought at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. After check out the "lay of the land", it was easy to see how Jackon's troop won the battle through a simply coming at the Indians from two fronts and overwhelming them from the sides. With all the civil rights struggles and bloody Indian battles now behind them, it was time to go mobile to the coast to Mobile!
Hammer Time !!!!
As the sun finally came through the gray February skies, the Boys became thirsty, and there is really only one way to slake your thirst.... Beers !!! Heading down to the (hopefully) warmer south Alabama lands, Mike and Bone stopped for a 6 pack of some delicious Grolsch beers. They were so delightful that the Boys needed to stop for another 6 pack of Corona's! This re-set the Boys mood and set them up for a little more history, not Civil Rights or Ware of 1812, but Civil War,,,, in Southern Alabama !?!
The Battle for Fort Blakely!!
Still thoroughly enjoying the happy effects of the beers, the Boys next checked out the earthworks from the Battle of Blakeley, one of the last major encounters (but little known) of the Civil War. The Battle of Fort Blakely was a tardy Union Campaign for Mobile.
Bone, bleary at Blakely
The Battle of Fort Blakely took place from April 2-April 9, 1865 in Baldwin County, Alabama, as part of the Mobile Campaign of the American Civil War.
Maj. Gen. Edward Canby's Union forces, the XVI and XIII Corps, moved along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, forcing the Confederates back into their defenses. Union forces then concentrated on Spanish Fort, Alabama and nearby Fort Blakely. By April 1, Union forces had enveloped Spanish Fort, thereby releasing more troops to focus on Fort Blakely. Confederate Brig. Gen. St. John R. Liddell, with about 4,000 men, held out against the much larger Union force until Spanish Fort fell on April 8 in the Battle of Spanish Fort. This allowed Canby to concentrate 16,000 men for the attack on April 9, led by Brig. Gen. John P. Hawkins. Sheer numbers breached the Confederate earthworks, compelling the Confederates, including Liddell, to surrender. The siege and capture of Fort Blakely was basically the last combined-force battle of the war. Yet, it is criticized by some (such as Ulysses S. Grant) as an ineffective contribution to Union war effort due to Canby's lateness in engaging his troops. African-American forces played a major role in the successful Union attack. As a result of this battle, Union forces would finally be able to occupy the city of Mobile, Alabama on April 12, 1865.
Mike Burying Rebels !!
Once the site of a thriving town, Blakeley was a ghost town by the time of the Civil War. Fever had destroyed the city that once rivaled Mobile, but the strategic point overlooking the Mobile-Tensaw Delta was quickly recognized by Confederate engineers as they planned a system of defenses to protect Mobile. The Confederated ringed the site of old Blakeley with impressive fortifications that included breastworks, forts and batteries. It came to be known as Fort Blakeley (sometimes misspelled as Fort Blakely) and the battle there as the Battle of Fort Blakeley.
In the late afternoon of April 9th 1865 Union forces launched simultaneous attacks on the Confederate strongholds of Spanish Fort and Blakeley, Alabama, after capturing nearby Spanish Fort and in a desperate attempt to force their way into Mobile itself. Federal troops took Spanish Fort after a prolonged siege on April 9, 1865, but the garrison at Blakeley still hung tenaciously to their works.
A hammering series of assaults were launched from left to right along the Southern defenses. Finally breakthrough came when a Union brigade, led by the 83rd Ohio Infantry, stormed over the walls of Redoubt #4. The Confederate lines collapsed and Union troops poured into the coveted position, thus ending the Battle. Mike and Bone blearily wandered around the battlefield with no one in site, nitrogenating the winter-dead grass multiple times as they continued to attack the rapidly diminishing supplies on the malted-grain beverages.
As the afternoon began to wane, they decided to get a room just east of Downtown Mobile!
Scammin' at Flora-Bama !!
Finding a non-descript little hotel on the water, they found an awesome Fish House on Mobile Bay for a pretty good fish dinner (The Boys were pretty much done with Bar-b-que!) Afterwards, Bone had heard about a cool bar in the area from his boss at IBM Glenn Finch who had a great time at the Flora Bama, why not check it out on this unusually cold evening (it was in the 20’s.) The Flora-Bama Lounge and Package, located on Perdido Key in Pensacola, Florida, is a world famous honkey tonk, oyster bar, beach bar, and Gulf Coast cultural landmark, touted as being America's "Last Great Roadhouse. It sits on the Beach literally straddling the Alabama and Florida border. Opened in 64, it is known for its Mullet toss, which is seeing how far one can pitch a dead mullet over the State Line. By 9:00 PM Mike and Bone were pretty cooked from the drive from Montgomery to Horse Shoe Bend, then down to Mobile. Neither anticipated that Flora Bama was at least an hour away!
One Damned Fine-A$$ed Bar !!
Now Mike and the Bone have been to many, many, many kool bars that provide a variety of entertainments. Flora Bama may be one of the best ever! It is mostly an outdoor bar, covered on this evening with plastic for the unusual and extreme cold. But inside there were hundreds on like minded boys and girls in Mike and Bone's age range drinkin' and dancin' like there was no tomorrow.
The only unfortunate event of the night was the Boys were already partied out from the long day from drive from Montgomery, and the case of beer they had already consumed and by 11:00 PM, they were both on the downside. Despite the fatigue, they soldiered on for at least two hours of drinkin' and dancin' until 1:00 AM, when they safely made the looong one hour drive back to Mobile Bay.