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Transcript of Freedom Walkers:
The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott
By: Russell Freedman
Freedman, R. (2006) Freedom walkers: the story of the Montgomery bus boycott. New York, New York: Holiday House.
Freedom Walkers (2006), written by Russell Freedman, is a recap of the events leading to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the events that happened as a result. It discusses key roles of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jo Ann Robinson, Montgomery Police, and both federal and state governments. For 381 days the African American community boycotted the Montgomery buses. They banded together to carpool, walk, and cram into taxi’s that dropped the price of their fare to the bus price. Together they were able to end bus segregation in Montgomery. They risked their lives in order to accomplish this goal. They not only had to face the government, but the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as well. Houses were bombed, fines and tickets were given, and lives were lost, but they stuck together and in a little over a year, they were given the right to ride the bus freely. This was an accomplishment for the African American community that put an end to the Jim Crow laws and gave them the right to vote with the Voting Rights Act- which is known as the highest achievement of the civil rights movement.
This book can be used for grades 4th through 8th. There is talk about death so I wouldn’t want to start too early, but the books themes of courage, bravery, fairness and persistence can all be great tools for teaching. The book focuses on racism which is not as evident as it was when the book is placed in the 50’s and 60’s. Students can learn how racism was in the past and compare that to present day. This book addresses the second thematic strand of “time, continuity, and change.” Over time racism and segregation have become less common and laws have been made to prevent it. This causes change in the world and even in the constitution. It was such a radical idea to treat everyone equally and that caused uproar in the Montgomery community. It could be used in math for students to come up with how many miles people had to walk a day, a month, a year, etc. They could do research on the weather of Alabama and see how that could affect the walk. Students could do research on other viewpoints of what happened when Rosa Parks would not get off of the bus. There are two sides to every story, so it might be interesting for students to figure out the other side.
Common Core Standards:
High school: Content Standard 5: The student will analyze foreign and domestic policies
during the Cold War, 1945 to 1975. B. Compare and contrast segregation policies of “separate but equal,” disenfranchisement of African Americans through poll taxes, literacy tests, and violence; and the sustained attempts to dismantle segregation including the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School, the Oklahoma City lunch counter sit-ins led by Clara Luper, the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the Birmingham church bombing, the adoption of the 24th Amendment, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Selma to Montgomery marches, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Because this is for High School, I would still use the book for younger students and make it more of a research project.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I connected with it because I knew what happened at the end, but while I was reading it I was anxious trying to figure out what happened at the end. I was able to connect with the story because I have learned about this topic in high school, but I never really learned about it in depth. After reading, I was satisfied with the book because I really felt like I learned something from it and was happy that the African American community was able to get what they fought so hard for. This book can be related to students lives because of how slavery isn't around anymore. Teachers could ask questions like, "what would you do if you lived in Montgomery during the bus boycott? Would you have lent your car to be a taxi? Can you think of a situation in your life that is similar to this?"
December- Jo Ann Robinson kicked off Bus in Montgomery, AL
May 17-US Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
March 2- Claudette Colvin arrested for not giving up her set in the colored section for a white person.
Summer- Emmett Till kidnapped and beaten to death.
October -Mary Louise Smith arrested for not moving to the back of the bus and fined 5 dollars.
December 1st- Rosa Parks was arrested.
December 2-Leaflet goes throughout the colored community encouraging a bus boycott.
December 5-Start of the Bus Boycott.
January 26- MLK was pulled over by two motorcycle cops and taken to jail for speeding.
January 31- King’s house bombed while he was giving a mass meeting.
February 21- Grand Jury indicted 115 blacks for a 1921 state law prohibiting boycotts “without just cause or legal excuse."
March 19- King trial to declare the boycott illegal and punish leaders- $500 fine.
November 13- City lawyers argued for fines against an “unlicensed transportation service."
December 20th- Supreme Court bus integration order delivered to Montgomery.
December 21- 381 days after the boycott began, Montgomery desegregated its buses.
January- Ralph Abernathy’s house bombed.
September 15- KKK bombed church and 4 girls died.
Cross culture and Global connections:
This book can be connected to cultures because there are some cultures, even in today’s day and age, which are mistreated based upon skin color. One that I notice a lot, personally, is Middle Easterners. This is not the same as being segregated on a bus, but the racism portion is definitely there. In addition to that, I think of Europeans taking over Oklahoma and misplacing the American Indians. They were given places to live and told that they had to stay in that area or move away. Once again, the segregation on the bus is not the exact same, but it is a higher power telling someone what they have to do infringing on their rights. In this case, the Indians did not fight back as much as the African Americans. There was still the racism between cultures. Present day, in a different scenario: Gun rights. US Citizens have a constitutional right to bare arms. The government is trying to take that right away. NRA and other organizations are fighting back, trying to keep this right. The only difference with this, is it is not racially based, it is culture based.
"But there were other ways to protest, and one day, a half century ago, the black citizens in Montgomery rose up in protest and united to demand their rights- by walking peacefully. It all started on a bus." (Freedman, 2006)
"Sometimes a spiteful (bus) driver would accept a black rider's fare and then, while the passenger was walking around to enter the back door, would drive off." (Freedman 2006, pg. 9)
"Afterward, people would say that she didn't give up her seat because she was tired. "But that isn't true, " she wrote later. "I was not tired physically, no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day....No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in." She had made up her mind long before that if she was ever asked to give up her seat for a white person, she would refuse." (Freedman, pg. 27 2006)
"During the weeks that followed, people continued to offer their cars or volunteer as drivers. Eventually between 275 and 300 black-owned vehicles were transporting thousands of boycotters every day. Thousands more people were walking to work, to school, to the store, or wherever they had to go." (Freedman, pg. 51 2006)
"We must not take this as a victory," King told the crowd, " but merely with dignity. When we go back to the bussess, go back with a quiet pride. Don't push your way. Just sit where there is a vacant seat. If someone pushes you, don't push back. We must have the courage to refuse to hit....we must continue to resist segregation non-violently." (Freedman 2006, pg. 86)
2. Time, Continuity, Change
3. People, Place, Environment
Martin Luther King, Jr.
All of the boycotters and leaders
Are there other boycotts like this one?
What did this lead to? Voting? Desegregation everywhere?
What is the city like today?
Did the boycott have a financial impact on the city?
Are there other books like this?
Are there books that contain different perspectives?
Could you have shown that amount of
Martin Luther King Jr.
Jo Ann Robinson
The African American Community of Montgomery
Ku Klux Klan
E. D. Nixon
Mayor W. A. Gayle
Judge Eugene Carter
Desegregation of schools
Rosa Parks kicked off the bus
Beginning of the boycott
Martin Luther King, Jr. arrested
Segregation of buses illegal by Supreme Court
381 days later, the boycott ended
Jim Crow Laws
Another Negro 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.
t 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 Negroes, 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.”
Boycott Leaflet: December 2, 1955
Rosa Parks Finger Print: Woman fingerprinted. Mrs. Rosa Parks, Negro seamstress, whose refusal to move to the back of a bus touched off the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. 1956. www.loc.gov
Freedman, R. (2006) Freedom walkers: the story of the Montgomery bus boycott. New York, New York: Holiday House.
News Paper- December 19, 1955
Walking during boycott:
MLK Speaking December 5, 1955
The overview on the website http://www.montgomeryboycott.com/ was a shortened version of the book. The facts given in the book and the website match up, so that makes me believe that they are accurate. The author of the book, Russell Freedman, did a lot of research when it came to writing this book so that he could make sure that it was accurate.
Another website, http://www.history.com/topics/montgomery-bus-boycott, has the same facts that the book, Freedom Walkers, has in it. Because it is the History Channel website, I think it is a credible source to get data.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women who Started it: The Memoir of Jo Ann Robinson by Jo Ann Robinson tells the story from her point of view. She includes the view points of the African American women that were involved. It goes along with Freedom Writers so I would say that it gives the book more accuracy.
Aftermath of the Montgomery Bus Boycott - Jet Magazine, January 10, 1957
The Dec. 1, 1955, police report on the arrest of Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Ala.
Reverend Ralph D Abernathy: Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy attempting to calm the audience at the First Baptist Church following a standing ovation for leaders of the bus boycott. 1956 February 23. http://www.loc.gov
Churches provided vehicles to transport people where they needed to go. http://1865-present.blogspot.com/2011/07/week-12-long-civil-rights-movement.html