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African-American Women Threaten a Bus Boycott in Montgomery

This letter from the Women's Political Council to the Mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, threatens a bus boycott by the city's African Americans if demands for fair treatment are not met.

Dear Sir:

The Women’s Political Council is very grateful to you and the City Commissioners for the hearing you allowed our representative during the month of March, 1954, when the “city-bus-fare-increase case” was being reviewed. There were several things the Council asked for:

1. A city law that would make it possible for Negroes to sit from back toward front, and whites from front toward back until all the seats are taken.

2. That Negroes not be asked or forced to pay fare at front and go to the rear of the bus to enter.

3. That busses stop at every corner in residential sections occupied by Negroes as they do in communities where whites reside.

We are happy to report that busses have begun stopping at more corners now in some sections where Negroes live than previously. However, the same practices in seating and boarding the bus continue.

Mayor Gayle, three-fourths of the riders of these public conveyances are Negroes. If Negroes did not patronize them, they could not possibly operate.

More and more of our people are already arranging with neighbors and friends to ride to keep from being insulted and humiliated by bus drivers.

There has been talk from twenty-five or more local organizations of planning a city-wide boycott of busses. We, sir, do not feel that forceful measures are necessary in bargaining for a convenience which is right for all bus passengers. . . .

Please consider this plea, and if possible, act favorably upon it, for even now plans are being made to ride less, or not at all, on our busses. We do not want this.

Respectfully yours,

The Women’s Political Council
Jo Ann Robinson, President

Source | Clayborne Carson, et al, eds., The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 44-45; also from Historical Thinking Matters, http://historicalthinkingmatters.org/inquiry.php?sourceID=19&page=inquiry&moduleID=5&tab=resources.
Creator | Jo Ann Robinson
Item Type | Diary/Letter
Cite This document | Jo Ann Robinson, “African-American Women Threaten a Bus Boycott in Montgomery,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 10, 2018, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/693.

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