Rosa Parks & The Montgomery Bus Boycott

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Rosa Park kept her seat and ignited the Montgomery Bus Boycott, setting off in the nation a protest against Jim Crow laws  that became the Civil Rights Movement, of which she became the mother.

 

Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-56

Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-56

I didn’t fully understand what Jim Crow laws were when  was a little girl. I just knew Jim Crow laws were bad for black people and meant there were many restrictions on what we could do:

Where we could live
Where we could go
What seat we could take
Where we could eat
Where we could go to school

Although, news reports of Rosa Parks were slow to reach our home, I began to realize the role Rosa Parks played in the fight against Jim Crow laws. My parents tried to insulate me from the ravages of discrimination the best they could, but I had to go out into the world to go to school and shop. Even as a child, I could see the differences between our streets and those that led to the downtown district. Then when my house and neighborhood began buzzing about civil rights news and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I learned about Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights Movement and the names of civil rights activists like Rosa Parks from hearing their names in conversations between my mother, father and Bigmama when they talked about current events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Brown v the Board of Education.

Laura Nelson, Oklahoma, 1911

Laura Nelson, Oklahoma, 1911

At the time, though, there was no biographical information about the central figures of the civil rights movement and my family probably had no idea of Rosa Parks’ involvement in the protection of black women from rape and lynching. I only began to learn about that part of her life lately as I investigated for a book I am writing about her. I am shocked that I was not aware of the number of black women raped and lynched in America after slavery ended. Rape and lynching of black women and, of course also black men, went on through the 1950s and ’60s.

The Laura Nelson lynching was two years before Rosa Parks was born, but still fresh in the minds of young black girls as to what could happen to them. I never saw this picture when I was a child, but I had heard the name Laura Nelson and the fear that accompanied discussions of her lynching. I remember thinking, Laura Nelson could be me or a woman in my family.

Rosa Parks - Booking Photo, Montgomery Bus Boycott

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks joined the NAACP and became an investigator of rape and lynching of black women in Alabama a decade before the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She set out to prove that lynching was being used as a weapon against the African American community by the ruling class to control behavior. Parks unearthed several cases of rape, but was unable to bring them to justice and use them to fight Jim Crow laws and treatment of black communities.

Eventually, Parks and the NAACP planned the Montgomery Bus Boycott to meet civil rights requirements because black women going to work were the primary passengers and were being abused and discriminated against while riding the buses. For her part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were jailed.

Little Girls Killed in Alabama

Little Girls Killed in Alabama

I knew of the children killed in the church bombing in Alabama. They were my age. They could have been me and my friends. If the purpose of all the violence I was hearing about and seeing on television was to frighten me, then the violence did what it was intended to do. I was scared out of my wits.

In fact, I didn’t want to go out of the house. I just didn’t see the point in living at all until my mother told me, “You have no choice but to live,” she said. “When you think you can’t go on, you go on.”

My family either knew changes were coming or were unwilling to let me use Jim Crow laws as an excuse for bad behavior and poor performance in the schools I was allowed to attend. My mother, especially, made me feel really badly when I confessed to her that I was not currently reading a book that had not been assigned at school. Then, she would assign a book. She had constructed shelves in the living room for books that she purchased at yard sales and places going out of business. At that time, in our town, the library was not actually segregated, but reserved for white readers only. My mother and I made many trips on a Greyhound Bus to public libraries in cities near us.

Jim Crow laws affected everything about our lives, including the schools I attended until I graduated from high school; and later getting into college. But Jim Crow laws did not affect the global education my mother presented to me with my China tea set and other tools, like meditation, which she discovered and adapted to her global education. My mother would use that China tea set to teach me about the world outside of Jim Crow Laws, under which my ancestors had lived for nearly a century and my family would live for years to come.

Sunny Nash, Author Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's

Sunny Nash, Author
Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s

Sunny Nash–author, producer, photographer and leading writer on U.S. race relations in–writes books, blogs, articles and reviews, and produces media and images on U.S. history and contemporary American topics, ranging from Jim Crow laws to social media networking, Nash uses her book to write articles and blogs on race relations in America through topics relating to her life–from music, film, early radio and television, entertainment, social media, Internet technology, publishing, journalism, sports, education, employment, the military, fashion, performing arts, literature, women’s issues, adolescence and childhood, equal rights, social and political movements–past and present—to today’s post-racism. 

Bigmama Didn’t Shop at Woolworth’s is recognized by the Association of American University Presses for its value to the understanding of U.S. race relations. The book is also listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg in New York and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida. 

© 2013 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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Doris Topsy-Elvord, Long Beach Living Legend

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Doris Topsy-Elvord
Doris Topsy-Elvord

Doris Topsy-Elvord, the first black woman elected to the Long Beach, California, City Council; the first black female vice mayor of Long Beach; the first African American and third female on the Long Beach Harbor Commission; is  one of the Long Beach legends featured in the book, BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way.

Co-founder of the African American Heritage Society, Long Beach, with Indira Hale Tucker, Topsy-Elvord provides a primary  account of her life and times along with the accounts eleven other Long Beach legends in BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way. Other Long Beach legends in the book are:  Wilma Powell, Vera Mulkey, Carrie Bryant, Alta Cooke, Bobbie Smith, Patricia Lofland, Evelyn Knight, Dale Clinton, Maycie Herrington, Autrilla Scott and the late Lillie Mae Wesley, each of whom made a difference in the history of Long Beach, California, and development of  race relations in that city.

The Writing Life is my lifestyle, allowing me to seek out those topics that interest me and also bring healthy social discussion to the table. I welcome healthy discussion because it raises and reveals new perspectives on old issues. When I examine issues of the past, I learn where I stand in the present and how I will be affected in the future. In all of my re-examination of past social issues, I benefit, in that, I am able to understand at a deeper level how to explain the era of the Civil Rights Movement and the effect of Jim Crow on American society without preaching and turning readers away before I am able to reach them.

Reaching people is my goal in this blog, The Writing Life. However, in addition to reaching people, my blogs, online articles and Internet press releases serve another function. These online publications become part of my overall web presence and help in book marketing by attracting attention of search engines, as well as readers interested in my subjects. Web presence created by online publication gives me brand equity and popular recognition, while I am helping others to do the same with their writing.

Alta Cooke, Press Telegram

Alta Cooke, Press-Telegram

You don’t have  to look very far to find interesting subjects for your books and other writing projects. Carolyn Smith Watts and I found a project that has had significant historical implications in the area of race relations in our BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way book and DVD.

Because several of the women in this book are from Texas, the Brazos Valley African American Museum in Bryan, Texas, has requested that the book be placed on display there. Members of the Pioneering Dozen who are from Texas are: Carrie Bryant, from Mexia; Vera Mulkey, from Austin; Wilma Powell, from Waco; and the late Lillie Mae Westley, from Texarkana. These Texas women migrated to Long Beach, California, as small children with their parents or as young women. All have made Long Beach their home and made historical contributions to the city.

Brazos Valley African American Museum

Brazos Valley African American Museum

Historical Society, Long Beach
Historical Society Long Beach

When selecting a writing project like this one, make sure you involve credible personalities who will be supported by the general public, specific target audiences and the media. 

BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way received much local Long Beach attention in that it was installed into the Historical Society, Long Beach, had events covered by local media and was later received by libraries and museums across the nation, like the Brazos Valley African American Museum and the Historical Society, Long Beach.

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks on Montgomery Bus

In their own way, the African American women in BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way had a similar mission in their lives as Rosa Parks when she sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955.

There were many forces at work across the nation during the Civil Rights Movement. For in-depth understanding about the social and political impact of Rosa Parks and her initiation of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the involvement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., please read: Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott & Jim Crow .

Topsy-Elvord and other women legends of Southern California before and  during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s shattered racial tradition in Long Beach in the same way as Rosa Parks shattered Jim Crow in the Deep South. The Southern California movement did not garner national media attention because their actions were not in the Deep Jim Crow South, where civil rights action was concentrated. The concentration in the Jim Crow south and not Jim Crow California was because the laws regarding race in the Jim Crow south were so blatantly written that challenging them presented a clearer path to victory over U.S. racial segregation for Thurgood Marshall and the team of lawyers in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

However, the efforts of these courageous women like Doris Topsy Elvord and others changed Long Beach and the rest of California. For a more complete look at the story of Doris Topsy-Elvord and the other living legends of Long Beach read: Race Relations in America and Southern California  – Twelve African American women, featured in historical profiles, BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way, made a difference in the history of race relations in Long Beach, California, the same way Rosa Parks changed the Jim Crow South.

Long Beach, California, Legends

(left-right, rear) Evelyn Knight, Patricia Lofland, Bobbie Smith, Alta Cooke,  Carrie Bryant, Vera Mulkey, Wilma Powell, and Doris Topsy-Elvord; (seated left-right) Autrilla Scott, Maycie Herrington, Dale Clinton and Lillie Mae Wesley (not present)

Race Relations in America and Southern California includes text, photographs and videos covering race and civil rights issues such as the Supreme Court rulings in Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. the Board of Education, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the history of Jim Crow laws, black codes, segregation in Hollywood films and entertainment, reverse discrimination in education and lynching in the Deep South. 

Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash

Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash

Sunny Nash is the author of  Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s (Texas A&M University Press), chosen by the Association of American University Presses as one of its essential books for understanding race relations in the United States. The award-winning author is listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg Center in New York and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida.

Related Articles by Sunny Nash

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, affected race relations in America and early Hollywood, in that, studios had to change with the new racial climate that had relegated black actors to servants’ roles and mirrored pre-civil rights America.
 
Rosa Parks challenged Jim Crow laws igniting the Montgomery Bus Boycott when she refused to give up her seat to another bus rider.
 
Rosa Parks started the Montgomery Bus Boycott to free Alabama citizens of segregated bus seating and to show the nation how to overcome the tragedy that slavery left behind. Angela Bassett becomes Rosa Parks in her portrayal of the legendary civil rights heroine.

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Articles on Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

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Rosa Parks Arrest Photo, Montgomery Bus Boycott

Rosa Parks Arrest Photo, Montgomery But Boycott

Rosa Parks, known as “the mother of the modern Civil Rights Movement,” sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott on December 1, 1955, and changed America.

Below are some links to articles I have written about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott that will provide a wide range of background on the Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow laws and lynching. Also included in these articles are books and films about the era to enrich your understanding of race relations in the Jim Crow South and the United States.

Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott & Jim Crow – Rosa Parks challenged Jim Crow laws, igniting the Montgomery Bus Boycott, when she refused to give up her seat to another bus rider and set the nonviolent tone for the Woolworth’s sit-ins four years later.

Rosa Parks – Life Behind the Legend – Rosa Parks started the Montgomery Bus Boycott to free Alabama citizens of segregated bus seating and to show the nation how to overcome the tragedy that slavery left behind. Angela Bassett becomes Rosa Parks in her portrayal of the legendary civil rights heroine.

Rosa Parks & Race Relations in Early Hollywood – Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, affected race relations in America and early Hollywood, in that, studios had to change with the new racial climate that had relegated black actors to servants’ roles and mirrored pre-civil rights America.

New Sunny Nash Articles Related to this Post

Jim Crow Law and Rosa Parks: A Brief History

Great Mothering in Jim Crow’s World

Other Related Articles by Sunny Nash

Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott & Jim Crow – Rosa Parks challenged Jim Crow laws, igniting the Montgomery Bus Boycott, when she refused to give up her seat to another bus rider and set the nonviolent tone for the Woolworth’s sit-ins four years later.

Rosa Parks, Jim Crow and Young Black Hollywood Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, affected race relations in America and early Hollywood, in that, studios had to change with the new racial climate that had relegated black actors to servants’ roles and mirrored pre-civil rights America.

Rosa Parks – Life Behind the Legend in the Jim Crow South In The Rosa Parks Story Angela Bassett becomes Rosa Parks in a portrayal of the legendary civil rights heroine that seems more real than performance. The article covers aspects of Rosa Parks’ life and the Montgomery Bus Boycott with photographs and videos.

Race Relations in America, the Woolworth’s Sit-ins Woolworth’s sit-ins by black and white college students in Greensboro NC between February and July 1960 integrated lunch counters cross the nation.

List of Sunny Nash Race Relations Blogger Posts

Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash

Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s by Sunny Nash

Sunny Nash is the author of Bigmama Didn’t’t Shop At Woolworth’s, chosen by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding race relations in the United States, listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg Center in New York and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida. Nash has work in the African American National Biography by Harvard and Oxford; African-American West, Century of Short Stories; Reflections in Black, History of Black Photographers 1840 – Present; Ancestry; Companion to Southern Literature; Texas Through Women’s Eyes; Black Genesis: A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy; African American Foodways; Southwestern American Literature Journal; The Source: guidebook to American genealogy; Interdisciplinary Journal for Germanic Linguistics; Ebony Magazine; Hidden Sources: Family History in Unlikely Places; and others.

© 2011 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

www.sunnynash.blogspot.com

~Be sure to visit my Website: www.sunnynash.com Thank You~

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