THE FIRST DAY OF THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT
By Uriah J. Fields, Ph.D.
I was there on December 5, 1955. I was in Montgomery on the"first"day of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I was an eyewitness. More than that I was a participant. That day I was in the Montgomery courtroom during Rosa Parks' trial when a Judge issued the "verdict guilty with a fine." That day I was at the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church when the Montgomery Improvement Association was founded. That day I was on the dais when more than 3,000 people gathered at the Holt Street Baptist Church for the first bus boycott mass meeting. I was there. That was an awesome day.
This is the story of "the first day of the Montgomery Bus Boycott" as reported by Uriah J. Fields who was there when the bus boycott began and when it ended... and during the 380 days between the first day and the last day of the bus boycott. What role did he play in the bus boycott? Read on and perhaps you will get the answer not only to this question but to other questions you have asked about the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
In a nutshell: The first Day of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I propose to give a brief report on the first day of the bus boycott but not so brief as to neglect or omit essential facts.
December 5, 1955 was the first day of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. What happened that day? is the matter of this documentary. There were significant happening that day: (1) Rosa Parks' trial, (2) birth of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), that would be the organization directing the bus boycott, and (3) the first bus boycott mass meeting.
Before discussing these events in detail I want to take a fifty-year leap forward to December 5, 2005 when more than a week-long observance of the Fifty Anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott was celebrated in Montgomery, Alabama. People from throughout America and some from abroad participated in the observance. A number of events were featured. I attended at least twelve. Here I want to focus briefly on a single event that was held on Monday, December 5, 2005, exactly fifty years, to the day, when the Montgomery Bus Boycott began on Monday, December 5, 1955.
This event was held at the First Baptist Church where Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy was pastor at the time. Mentioning this brings something else to mind. I recall that nearly fifty years before this event, on Monday, January 30, 1956, a little less than two months after the bus boycott began, during a mass meeting while Martin Luther King, Jr., was speaking we received word that King's home had been bombed. The meeting abruptly came to a halt and most of those at the mass meeting rushed to King's home. The Good news was that his wife, daughter and a friend who was in the house at the time had not been injured. Although prior to this violent incident black people had been intimidated and harassed, mostly by policemen, but no violent act of this magnitude had occurred.
Among those present for this Fifty Anniversary event were Dick Gregory and Rev. Al Sharpton. Dick Gregory livened up things with a bit of humor just as he is known to do and as his audience expects of him. This is one of the jokes that extracted laughter from the audience, and I quote: "A man's wife said, 'Darling come up stairs and just make love.' After he did not come up stairs, his wife again said, "Darling, I said come up stairs and just make love." The husband said "Honey, I have told you I can only do one, come up stairs or make love."
Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a powerful and relevant message. He reflected on the historical significance of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and emphasized how that movement advanced freedom and justice in America. He also gave a list of things African Americans must to in order to create a more just society.
This writer also spoke that evening. Realizing that there have been attempts, on the part of some people to write me out of the bus boycott, to suggest that I did not have a role in the bus boycott or, to speak disparagingly of me when my name is associated with the bus boycott, I decided to share my thoughts and feelings with the audience, that was composed of people, many of them not born fifty years ago when the bus boycott took place. I wanted them to know that I played a role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, despite what they may have heard about me. I wanted them to know the truth. I began with reciting, more correctly singing, one of Langston Hughes' poems, I have composed music for, titled "Still here." This is that poem/song:
I've been scarred and battered,
My hopes the wind done scattered,
Snow has friz me, sun has baked me,
Looks like between 'em they done
tried to make me stop laughing,
stop loving, stop living.
But I don't care, I'm still here."
Yes, I'm still here.
Continuing I said, William Cullen Bryant spoke truthfully when he said, "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again." My intention for making this observation is not now, nor has it ever been, to get credit or recognition, but rather to make known the truth. That is the reason I wrote the book, "Inside the Montgomery Bus Boycott: My Personal Story." People have a right to know the truth.
Now, let us go back and return to December 5, 1955. However, before doing that it is in order to say a brief word about the four days prior to December 5th - the twilight period, December 1st through December 4th - of the then pending bus boycott.
On Thursday, December 1st, Rosa Parks was arrested for failing to give her seat to a white man after she was asked to do so by the bus driver. She was taken to jail. E. D. Nixon paid her bail.
Friday, Jo Ann Robinson, president of the Women's Political Council, called E. D. Nixon and suggested that black people boycott buses on Monday, the day of Rosa Parks' trial. Nixon agreed and told her that he would call some of the black ministers and ask then to meet with her Friday at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and support the plan that will be presented to address the arrest of Rosa Parks. Nixon, a railroad pullman had to leave on his pullman train trip to Atlanta and Chicago. At the time, he was the chief black leader in Montgomery.
When Nixon came to Los Los Angeles in the 1980s where he was honored by Tom Bradley, Mayor of Los Angeles, during the speech he delivered at the Mutuality Center for Creative Living - during the weekly People United Freedom Forum - where I was director, discussing the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he said, "After the arrest of Rosa Parks and my bailing her out of jail I called the leading ministers of Montgomery and asked them to meet on Friday, a day after Parks' arrest at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. First, I called Rev. Ralph Abernathy, who agreed to support a bus boycott, next I called my pastor, Rev. H. H. Hubbard; then I called Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., next I called Rev. A. W. Wilson, and the fifth person I called was Rev. Uriah J. Fields." He added, "They all agreed to support a boycott of Montgomery buses on Monday, the day of Rosa Parks' trial."
Before Nixon boarded the Pullman run train he informed Joe Azbell, editor of the "Montgomery Advertiser," who met him at the train station that Negroes will be boycotting all city buses on Monday. He gave him a copy of a leaflet announcing the bus boycott and asked him to carry the story in the "Montgomery Advertiser." Azbell, promised him that he would carry that story and added that this will be the hottest story to appear in "Advertiser" in a long time. In advertising the pending bus boycott Nixon disregarded the thinking of other black leaders who wanted to keep the news of the bus boycott a secret from white folk.
About twenty people were present for the meeting at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Jo Ann Robinson, the person most responsible for the meeting, spoke first. She gave a brief history of the mistreatment of black bus riders. Then she called for a boycott of buses on Monday, the day of Rosa Parks' trial and emphasized that E. D. Nixon had joined with her in calling for boycotting buses on Monday to protest the arrest and jailing of Rosa Parks. She added, "As you probably know, Mr. Nixon had to go on his Pullman train run."
During the discussion there were two persons who were opposed to boycotting the buses. However, the majority of those present thought it to be the right thing to do. It was also agreed upon that we prepare a leaflet and circulate it in the black comunnity, that we urge all black people to not ride buses on Monday and to attend the mass meeting Monday evening that will be held at the Holt Street Baptist Church. Leaders were encouraged to be present for Rosa Parks' trial at 9:00 a.m., Monday and after the trial, at 3:00 p.m., come to the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church for a meeting where we will determine what will be our further response to the arrest of Parks and what messasge we will deliver at the evening mass meeting.
Jo Ann Robinson, a professor ar Alabama State College volunteered to help prepare the leaflets that would be circulated in the black community. Copies were made on the mimeographed machine at Alabama State college. This message appeared on the leaflets:
"Another Negro woman has been arrested and put in jail
because she refused to give up her bus seat.
Don't ride the bus to work, to town, to school, or
anywhere on Monday.
If you work, take a cab or share a ride or walk.
Come to a mass meeting Monday at 7:00 p,m., at the
Holt Street Baptist Church for further instructions."
Ms. Robinson said that the leaflets would be ready early Saturday morning and people were told where they could pick them up. Ministers promised to announce in their churches on Sunday that black people will not ride buses on Monday and urge their members to come to Rosa Parks' trial and the mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church. It was also agreed upon that after Park's trial black ministers and other leader will meet at 3:00 p.m., at Mt. Zion AME Zion Church, where the Rev. Roy Bennett was the pastor. The reason for choosing that church for the afternoon meeting was twofold: (1) Rev. Bennett was not in favor of the bus boycott and (2) he was president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. Since Baptists outnumbered Methodists and ministers of other denominations in Montgomery there was a feeling on the part of some people that Baptists wanted to dominate the black agenda, so it was the thinking of those present that having this meeting at a Methodist church would help to attract non-Baptist ministers to the meeting and gain broad support for future actions in responding to Park's arrest.
More than anyone Jo Ann Robinson deserves the most credit for the success of the meeting at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and, just maybe, starting the bus boycott. The bus boycott was foremost her idea and her efforts helped to influence Nixon and others to adopt her idea that boycotting the buses was the right thing to do.
On Saturday the black community was plastered with leaflets announcing the bus boycott. I personally delivered leaflets to some ministers, barber shops and beauty parlors. A bus driver got a leaflet that somone left on the bus but he did not think much of it.
Black leaders were surprise to learn that the news of their call for boycotting of buses on Monday appeared in Sunday's "Montgomery Advertiser." Editor Azbell had written an article titled, "Negro Groups Ready Bus Boycott of Bus Lines."
When Nixon returned from his Pullman train run Sunday he dicscovered that Joe Azbell had written the article he had promised that announced black people's plan to boycott buses on tomorrow. Some black people did not think Nixon had done the right thing in letting white people know about their plan for boycotting the buses. Others, including myself, thought it was a good thing.
From their pulpits ministers on Sunday urged their members to not ride buses on tomorrow. In the sermon I preached that Sunday at Bell Street Baptist Church where I was the pastor, I drew parallel between the trial of Jesus and the trial of Rosa Parks on tomorrow. I wanted people to know that both trials were about evil people doing injustice to people seeking justice for all and the willingness of some people to oppose injustice at all cost.
After the church service I returned home and read Azbell's article in the "Montgomery Advertiser." I listened to radio commentators speak of black leaders call for boycotting buses tomorrow. Police Commissioner Clyde Sellers, a rabid racists, appearing on TV, criticized black leaders for calling for a bus boycott. He said that it is not going to work and boycotting buses is illegal. He wanted people to know that Montgomery policemen would stand ready tomorrow to assist back citizens who wanted to ride buses and he promised to deal appropriately with black "goon squads" who he claimed had been organized to intimidate blacks who otherwise would keep on riding the buses. It was Sellers' TV appearance, radio news commentators and Azbell's article in the "Advertiser" that informed many black people that they were being urged to boycott buses on Monday and increased the desire of others to be more committed to boycotting the buses. This advertising proved to be a blessing.
Monday, December 5, 1955. This is the day! It has taken me a while to get to this day. However, it was important that I let readers know what happened between the day Rosa Parks was arrested and the day of her trial.
I arrived at the Montgomery court house at 8:30 a.m., and the court room where the trial was held was nearly filled. Before the trial began, a few minutes pass 9:00 a.m., a large crowd had gathered outside the court house who were unable to be seated inside the court room.
Montgomery Court Judge John B. Scott called for the Rosa Parks' case. Prosecutor Eugene Lowe dropped the charge of Parks' violation of Montgomery's segregation ordinance and substituted in its place one based upon a 1945 state law. That law mandated segregation and awarded bus drivers unlimited power to enforce it. Bus driver J. D. Blake was placed on the stand, and asked to describe the incident. He was followed by two white women riders who supported the driver's account of what happened. Defense Attorney Fred Gray challenged the validity of the desegregation laws, but judge Scott immediately announced his verdict guilty, with a $10.00 fine and $4.00 court cost. The proceedings took seven minutes. It was as if the trial proceedings had been railroaded. Attorney Gray being an inexperienced lawyer didn't help, not that the verdict would have been different if he had been an experienced lawyer. Nixon walked out of the court to post bond for her release.
We left the trial, not so much disappointed as angry, angry that in a court in Montgomery a black person cannot receive justice if he has a case against a white person or the white system.
Seven months earlier on May 6, 1955, I had been in the court room when Judge Eugene Carter found Claudlette Colvin, a fifteen-year old student, guilty for having occupied a seat in the section of the bus designated for white bus riders. She had been arrested on March 2, 1955 for violating Alabama Segregation laws on buses. Only three ministers were present for her trial: her pastor, Rev. H. H. Johnson who was also my pastor, Rev. B. D. Lambert and myself.
But I noticed that there was something about the attitude of black people at Parks' trial that I had not observed seven months earlier at Colvin's trial. Unlike their acceptance of Judge Carter's decision in the Colvin's case, black people seem to have no intention of accepting Judge Scott's decision in the Parks' case. With the Parks' case there was a corporate feeling in the air and a message beyond words in conversations of black folk that declared Judge Scott's decision was not final, i.e., the matter of the trial had not been settled.
After the trial, other than admitting that there were no surprises, I heard some black leaders saying to other black leaders "I'll see you at the 3:00 p.m. meeting at Mt. Zion AME Zion Church." Others were heard saying "I'll see you at the 7:00 p.m. mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church."
I left the court house and drove down Jackson Street, passing King's home, on to Alabama State College. I picked up two class assignments from a fellow student. I was a second quarter student working on a master's degree. While at the college I talked with several teachers, including Professor J. E. Pierce who hated segregation with vengeance but felt unable to do what he wanted to do if he wanted to keep his job. He always urged his students to stand up for justice. He was proud of me because I had the courage and the opportunity to speak out and oppose the racist system. Having the G. I. Bill and being a pastor I did not have to be concerned about the white man firing me as Pierce did. This is one of the reasons why I was able to vote in 1954, a decade before the Voting Rights Act became law, at a time when only a few black people in Montgomery County dared to vote and when Lowndes County that adjourned Montgomery County did not have a single black voter even though more than sixty percent of that County's population were black. I have believed that at that time I was the youngest black voter in Montgomery.
At 2:45 p.m. I arrived at Mt. Zion AME Zion Church. Nixon and several other people were already at the church. King was the last person to arrive. Upon his arrival he started to offer an apology or give an explanation for being late. Nixon interrupted him and said, "We'll forgive you Rev. King; you have a new baby." Everyone began laughing. Yolanda, Rev. King's and his wife's first child, was only three weeks old. But the laughter was short-lived. Everyone there knew that this would be a serious meeting because we faced a heavy challenge, one that was only equaled by the responsibility we felt that was ours to assume.
Rev. Roy Bennett, Pastor of Mt. Zion AME Zion Church and President of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance called the meeting to order. Before anything else could happen, people began reporting that they had not seen black people on the buses. "The buses were empty" was expressed by most people there, including myself. One person said that he saw two black persons riding on a bus.
Next comments were made on the trial of Rosa Parks. Nixon asked the question, "What are we going to do from here?" Rev. Abernathy noted that because some people attending this meeting are not ministers we should form a new organization to deal with the mistreatment of folk on buses and other problems and concerns we have in Montgomery. Several ministers felt that the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance was the ideal organization to lead our efforts because it represented all denominations. Like the majority of those present I agreed with Abernathy on forming a new organization. Abernathy made a motion that the name of the new organization be the Montgomery Improvement Association. He stated that this name indicates our intention. The motion was seconded by Rev. H. H. Johnson and approved.
The next business was the election of officers. Motions were made that elected Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., President, Rev. Uriah J. Fields, Recording Secretary, Rev. E. N. French, Correspondence Secretary, Erna A. Dungee, Financial Secretary and E. D. Nixon, treasurer. A motion by Rev. H. H. Johnson was approved to have an Executive Board that will consists of twenty-five members, including sixteen of those attending the meeting, after two persons attending the meeting declined to serve on the Board, with nine additional members to be added later.
Rev. Bennett presented Rev. King to preside over the remainder of the meeting. After thanking the people who elected him to be President of the MIA he asked; "What are we going to do about the mistreatment of black bus riders and what are we going to demand of the city bus line officials? And too, what are we going to say to the people attending the 7:00 p.m.
mass meeting? These are the things we must address in this meeting.
After a lengthy discussion a decision was reached. The decision was that we recommend to people attending the mass meeting that we continue the bus boycott until we get some consideration from the city officials regarding the treatment of black bus riders. Rev. King appointed Rev. Abernathy to head a committee to draw-up the resolution and recommendations that would be announced at the mass meeting. Rev. Abernathy was asked to choose four other persons to serve on that committee. He selected Rev. W. F. Alford, Thomas Gray, E. D.Nixon and Rev. James Glasco. Rev. Abernathy's request was granted to have Attorney Fred Gray and Attorney Charles Langford join, who were not present, with Rev. King and and U. J. Fields serve as ex officio members of the Resolution Committee. Members of the commitee left the meeting immediately to draws up resolutions and recommendations. It was agreed upon by members attending the meeting and members of the committee that the resolution and recommendations be voted on by people attending the mass meeting to determine if they wanted the bus boycott to continue.
Drawing up of Program for the Mass Meeting
The opening Hymn - "Onward Christian Soldier,"
Prayer - Rev. W. F. Alford
Scripture - Rev. Uriah J. Fields.
Occasion - Rev. M. L. King, Jr.
Presentation of Mrs. Rosa Parks - Rev E. N. French
Acknowledgment of Fred Daniel
Resolutions - Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy
Offering - Rev. J. W. Bonner
Closing Hymn - "My Country 'Tis of Thee"
Benediction - Rev. L. Roy Bennett
The names of the eighteen persons participating in the meeting that was held for the purpose of organizing the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) and electing the officers for that organization and planning the program for the first bus boycott mass meeting are as follows:
Ralph David Abernathy, Pastor of the First Baptist Church
Willie Frank Alford, Pastor of Beulah Baptist Church
L. Roy Bennett, Pastor of the Mt Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church
J. W. Bonner Pastor of the First Colored Methodist Episcopal Church
P. E. Conley, Evangelist and Businessman
Erna A. Dungee, Former school teacher and founder of the Women's Political Council
Uriah J. Fields, Pastor of the Bell Street Baptist Church
Edgar Nathaniel French, Pastor of the Hillard Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Roseby James Glasco, Sr., Director of the Alabama Negro Baptist Center (Montgomery)
Thomas Gray, Owner of a Business
Hillman H. Hubbard, Pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church
Henry H. Johnson, Pastor of the Hutchinson Street Baptist Church
Martin Luther King, Jr., Pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
Rufus Andrews Lewis, Proprietor of the Citizens Club (a social/political club)
Robert L. Matthews President of the Montgomery Branch of the NAACP and an Insurance company executive
Edgar Daniel Nixon, President of the Progressive Democratic Association and Human Right leader
William J. Powell, Pastor of Old Ship African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Arthur W. Wilson, Pastor of the Holt Street Baptist Church
The eighteen people attended this organizing meeting was brought to my attention later when Clayborne Carson, Senior Editor of "The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., (Vol. III)," requesting my permission to publish this information which he sent to me a copy of the minute I had taken (in my own handwriting) on December 5, 1955.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott mass meeting was held Monday, December 5, 1955, at the Holt Street Baptist Church, Rev. A. W. Wilson, pastor. When I arrived at the church fifteen minutes before the 7:00 p.m. meetings was scheduled to begin the church auditorium was filled and the overflow of people had congregated outside of the church into the streets.
A few minutes pass 7:00 pm., the meeting began with the singing of "Onward Christian Soldier." This was followed by a prayer offered by Rev. W. F. Alford and Rev. U. J. Fields reading scripture (a portion of the 34th Psalm), Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was presented the host pastor, Rev. A. W. Wilson. He said that Rev. King had been chosen at an earlier meeting to lead our efforts to address the problems we, as a people, are facing in Montgomery.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., called for action. He said, "Mrs. Parks has been arrested and put in jail. She is one of our finest citizens." He gave a rousing speech. Then Rev. E. N. French presented Rosa Parks. He also presented a young man named Fred Daniel, a student at Alabama State College and a member of First Baptist Church who earlier in the day had been charged by a policeman with seeking to keep people from riding the bus.
Rev. King asked Rev. Abernathy to read the resolution and recommendations. He urged each person to listen carefully and be governed by his own conscience. He added, "We are going to vote on these recommendations." Again, he asked Rev. Abernathy to read the resolution and recommendations.
Abernathy thanked King for his leadership. After mentioned ten or more "whereases" that enumerated a series of injustices black people had experienced in Montgomery, some that involved mistreatment of black bus riders, he said, "In light of these observations, be it therefore resolved: Number one: that the citizens of Montgomery are requesting that every citizen in Montgomery, regardless of race, color or creed, refrain from riding buses owned and operated by the City of Montgomery City Lines, Incorporated." also had a number two and a number three that called upon people with automobiles to assist those in need of transportation for their own employees.
The recommendations are: (1) that more courteous treatment of Negro passengers by bus operators be guaranteed, (2) that seating be on a first-come, first-served basis, with Negroes continuing to sit from the rear of the bus and whites from front to rear and that no seat would be designated as solely for white or Negro passengers, (3) that Negro operators be employed on predominantly Negro routes." The understanding, as reflected in these recommendations is that black people would continue to boycott buses until these demands were granted by the City of Montgomery and the Montgomery City Lines officials. Finally, Abernathy said that we have no intention of using any unlawful means or any intimidation to persuade a person not to ride the Montgomery City Lines and that "each person's own conscience should be his or her guide." The people applauded a number of times while Abernathy read the resolution and recommendations, but at the end of his reading there were extended applause and "all rights," "yeses" and "that's its," exclaimed. Abernathy offered this motion: "I move that this resolution and these recommendations shall be adopted." King joined with a number of people in seconding the motion that was seconded by many people rather than by any particular person. However, I wrote in my minute that the motion was seconded by E. D. Nixon. King then said, "All in favor of the motion let it be known by saying yes. An earth-quake-like shout proclaimed "yes!" When he asked for those who oppose there was only laughter that conveyed a dare anyone to oppose the motion. Then King said, "The motion has been approved." He informed the people that everything expressed in this meeting is being recorded by our secretary Rev. U. J. Fields and tape recorded by Rev. James Roseby Glasco.
Acknowledging that preachers have many engagements, King asked Rev. Bennett to preside over the remainder of the meeting because he would have to leave to go and speak to the fathers and sons of the city. He was referring to the YMCA Fathers and Sons Banquet where he had been scheduled to speak. Before leaving, he emphasized the need for raising money to support our efforts and said an offering will be taken tonight. King asked Reverend J. W. Bonner to come and take the offering and Nixon and Robert Matthews to assist him with the offering. King gave his offering and departed.
I announced that the next mass meeting will be on Thursday, December 8th at 7:00 p.m., at St. John Methodist Church and stressed the importance of the meeting. Rev. Bennett pronounced the benediction.
As I drove home I reflected upon a wonderful day that was about to end. Many emotions stirred within my soul. Perhaps, the dominant one was joy. Before saying my prayers that night I said to myself, "What a day!" In a certain way, it had been the day that began the new Civil Rights Movement during the most tumultuous period in America since the Civil War. And it focused on the same issue that had caused the Civil War to be fought. I reasoned that this day would live, not "in infamy," as President Franklin D. Roosevelt had said following Japan's December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, but that this day, December 5, 1955, would live "famously" and be remembered as such by black people in Montgomery and by others who will learn about what happened here on this day, including many yet unborn.
Let me close with tributes to E. D. Nixon and Martin Luther King, Jr., as presented in my book; "Inside the Montgomery Bus Boycott - My Personal Story." In the beginning of my book, under the caption "Be It Known by All that Nixon is the One!" I write:
"Edgar Daniel Nixon, more than any other single person, although boycotting the buses was Jo Ann Robinson's idea, is the one who called the people of Montgomery, not to arms, but to feet to walk, to not ride buses, and inspired them to continue to not ride them until after the Supreme Court's decision declaring that segregation on Montgomery buses is unconstitutional.
It is true that Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, that Martin Luther King, Jr., was unquestionably the chief leader of the Montgomery bus protest, that Ralph Abernathy, Jo Ann Robinson, A. W. Wilson, Fred Gray, S. S. Seay, Robert Graetz, Charles Langford, Rufus Lewis, Uriah J. Fields (myself) and other leaders performed a yeoman's job, that bus boycotters, black people and a few white people in Montgomery, the latter, that included Clifford and Virginia Durr, that many people of good will from throughout America contributed admirably, financially and morally, to support the bus boycott, it remains a historical fact that E. D. Nixon, the unsung hero of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, deserves "credit par excellence" for being the person who rallied the black people in Montgomery to boycott buses and inspired them more than anyone to continue the boycott of buses in Montgomery for 382 days and until they were desegregated.
As the closing statement of my book, under the caption, "The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.," I write:
My prayer and charge, and it is a mandate as well, to readers of this volume and to those they share this message with are: resolve to consciously embrace the "Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.," with the awareness that each individual has to work out his own soul salvation for himself in fear and trembling, but we can help one another to find meaning, and in doing this become better and help to create a better world. Both we and the world are still in the making. These are things King realized and endeavored to assist other in knowing, and knowing to commit themselves to do good and work for the creation of a just society.
King is one of the few extraordinarily gifted and distinguished Masters of all human existence who have kept alive the "Paradise Regained" hope that is rooted in the divine promise that we can live in a just society. This is our inheritance. From eternity King speaks to our salient spirits saying "Claim your inheritance!" Dare we beneficiaries of his legacy, forget to treasure it and to transmit it to our children and teach them to pass it on to their children so that it will live in perpetuity."
URIAH J. FIELDS was the original secretary of the Montgomery Improvement Association that directed the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
**While standing on the Washington Mall on January 20, 2009, watching Barrack Obama take the oath to become the 44th President of the United State I reflected on the role the Montgomery Bus Boycott had played in making this possible.
A Suggestion from the Author:
To learn more about the other 381days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, I suggest that you read, "Inside the Montgomery Bus Boycott - My Personal Story" by Uriah J. Fields. Available on Amazon. Also read on this Web Site my full article, "Fifty Years After the Montgomery Bus Boycott."
Pass this on so young people will know about this historic event. Thank you. -ujf