The Montgomery Bus Boycott Timeline
Timeline Description: Perhaps the movement to desegregate city bus systems began on a day in 1944 when Jackie Robinson refused to move to the back of an army bus. Perhaps it was in 1950 when Professor Jo Ann Robinson sat near the front of her bus absentmindedly then left in tears when the driver screamed at her. Maybe it was one of many other incidents that occurred before 1955. The story is a bit complex and much less romantic than it is usually told.

Date Event
1944 Rosa Parks first met bus driver James Blake.

After paying her bus fare, Blake ordered Parks to board from the back of the bus. She walked to the back door and Blake drove away without her.
December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks attended a seminar.

It is believed that Rosa Parks was not a solo protester, but had spent time arranging her silent protest on the bus this day. She had just left a seminar after learning about non-violent civil disobedience protesting. Parks was a long time NAACP worker.
December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested.

After refusing to give up her seat on James Blake’s bus to a white man, Rosa Parks was arrested. Parks was leaving a race relations seminar.Blake was again her bus driver.
December 2, 1955 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held a meeting about boycott strategies.

Dr. King introduced Parks to the group of approximately twenty people. After receiving a standing ovation, Parks was encouraged by King not to speak.
December 5, 1955 Another meeting was held by Dr. King.

King held a second meeting to see how the first few days of the boycott were going. The decision was made to continue. Black churches across the nation raised money for boycotters to use as cab fare so they did not have to ride busses.
January 21, 1956 A compromise was proposed by non-members of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA).

False information was shared and when word got around through black ministers, the boycott continued.
January 30, 1956 King’s home was bombed.

When efforts to end the boycott did not work, members of the white community used violence to threaten MIA members and blacks. After King’s home was bombed, Nixon’s was on the following day. King released his famous statement about using love to solve problems.
February 21, 1956 Arrests were made.

89 members of the African-American community were arrested under an old law that used to prohibit citizens from boycotting. King was the first to be tried. he was found guilty and sentenced to a year in prison or $500 plus an additional $500 in court fees.
March 1956 Another meeting was held to discuss the boycott.

The African-American community refused to end the boycott. By now, they refused to settle for moderate plans to desegregate and would only accept full integration.
June 4, 1956 Browder vs. Gayle.

The United States Supreme Court case was the landmark case in ruling segregation unconstitutional.
November 13, 1956 The Federal Court made its decision.

2-1 ruled in favor of those who boycotted segregation. The only dissent was from a southern judge. Segregation on busses was ruled unconstitutional.
December 20, 1956 Official end to the boycott.

A city ordinance was passed allowing black passengers to sit wherever they chose on the public busses. The boycott had officially lasted 381 days.
December 21, 1956 The busses were integrated.

Over a year after the beginning of the boycott, African-Americans were able to return to the busses. Snipers shot the busses and the city was forced to suspend bus operations after groups tried to begin whites only services.
December 1956 More violence occurred.(December- January, 1956)

The KKK became involved in the fight against integration. Crosses were burned in the yards of families and the bus yards. Bombings occurred throughout the south, and whites spoke out against integration.
January 10, 1957 The SCLC was founded.(January 10-11, 1957)

Ministers from the MIA joined with other ministers from the south. They met in Atlanta to begin the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, electing MLK Jr. as president to continue fighting nonviolently for civil rights. The romanticized Montgomery Bus Boycott resounded far beyond desegregating busses in the public system. King gained national attention as a leader and activism was stimulated in the south.