WHICH ALSO STARTED THE
MODERN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
MARTIN LUTHER KING'S CAREER
AS A CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER
"Are you ready?”
"Without hesitation, I assured him that we were," Jo Ann responded
The news [of Rosa Parks arrest] traveled like wildfire into every black home...Everyone seemed to wait for someone to do something, but nobody made a move..."
--except the Women's Political Council of Montgomery, Alabama. Jo Ann Gibson-Robinson and the WPC
They had been waiting for an opportunity such as Rosa Park's arrest. And these black women went for it.
BLACK HERSTORY MONTH: JO ANN GIBSON ROBINSON and THE WOMENS POLITICAL COUNCIL (WPC) of Montgomery are the BLACK WOMEN who began MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT and gave MARTIN LUTHER KING JR his start. (Book foreword by Coretta Scott King)
On Thursday evening, at about 11:30 p.m Jo Ann Gibson Robinson informed Fred Gray, an attorney and former student, that she was thinking that the Women's Political Council (WPC) should distribute thousands of notices calling for all bus riders to stay off the buses on Monday, the day of Mrs. Parks’ trial.
THAT same night [Jo Ann] called John Cannon at a local college and informed him that the WPC was staging a boycott and needed to run off the notices. He told her that he too had suffered embarrassment on the city buses....She, along with two of her most trusted senior students, met John in the middle of the night, at the college’s duplicating room...
Jo Ann Gibson Robinson, an English professor at Alabama State College, had been president of the WPC since 1950. Under Robinson’s leadership, the WPC intensified their focus on bus reform. Members of the organization met several times with city officials throughout 1954 and 1955 in an effort to achieve better bus service [for blacks]
They had been considering a boycott of the Montgomery City Lines for years at the time of Rosa Parks’ arrest.
Therefore, some of the WPC officers [had long ago] discussed how and where to deliver thousands of leaflets announcing a boycott, and those plans now stood them in good stead. [Between 4 A M. and 7 A.M.] they outlined their routes...She took out the W.P.C membership roster and called
-Dr. Mary Fair Burks, Former W.P.C President
-Mrs. Mary Cross,
-Mrs. Elizabeth Arrington,
-Mrs. Josie Lawrence,
-Mrs. Geraldine Nesbitt,
-Mrs. H. Councill Trenholm,
-Mrs. Catherine N. Johnson,
-and a dozen or more others...
[35,000 leaflets] were also dropped off at business places, storefronts, beauty parlors, beer halls, factories, barber shops, and every other available place. Workers would pass along notices both to other employees as well as to customers. When Black Ministers saw that the congregation was already on board for the boycott, the ministers got on board too, regardless of denomination. Martin Luther King, was at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
AND THEN hundreds of black people, mostly black maids going to work in white houses, WALKED instead of riding. The PWC made arrangements for carpools and whatever transportation they could get together.
The clergymen also formed the Montgomery Improvement Assocation (MIA) on December 5, 1955 to help guide the Montgomery Bus Boycott [as it] was soon clear that the people were willing to carry the boycott beyond one day. Indeed it went on for more than a year.
Ella Baker, Baynard and others would talk to King about starting a movement that would fight for the rights of African Americans throughout the South. That guiding force, as conceived of by Baynard Rustin, would be turn the MIA into the SCLC
If you don't know your own history,
they'll take it from you
and claim it as their own.
Learn your black women's history.