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To the Commissioners of the City of Montgomery

Author: 
Negro Ministers of the City of Montgomery and their congregations
Genre: 
Letter
Topic: 
Montgomery Bus Boycott

Details

At the fourth meeting between Montgomery black leaders and city officials, attorney Fred Gray presented the following resolution, explaining that it was “not a request for the abolition of segregation on buses but for a fair and reasonable seating of passengers to assure all passengers equal treatment.”1 City officials, however, refused to alter existing bus seating arrangements. Mayor Gayle later announced, “we are going to carry out the law as we see it, and state law and city law call for segregation on buses.”2

TO: The Honorable Commissioners of the City of Montgomery
FROM: The Negro Ministers of the City of Montgomery and their congregations (The Methodist Ministerial Alliance, The Baptist Ministers’ Conference, and The Inter-Denominational Ministerial Alliance) and The Montgomery Improvement Association
SUBJECT: The Negro Protest Against The Montgomery City Lines

The organizations named above, in their recent mass meeting, appointed this committee and requested that this committee present to you the following resolution for your consideration:

WHEREAS, there are thousands of Negroes in the city and county of Montgomery who have refrained from riding busses owned and operated by the Montgomery City Lines, Incorporated since December 5, 1955, and

WHEREAS, we have made known previously to the City Commissioners of the City of Montgomery, The Montgomery City Lines, Incorporated, and the public in general our reasons for refraining from riding busses owned and operated by said company, and

WHEREAS, one of our reasons for refraining from riding the busses is because of the present seating arrangment, and

WHEREAS, our request is not a request for the abolition of segregation on busses but for a fair and reasonable seating of passengers so as to assure all passengers equal treatment, and

WHEREAS, similar cities in the South and in Alabama have similar seating arrangements to that which we are requesting, namely Mobile, Alabama; Dothan, Alabama; Huntsville, Alabama; Macon, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee and other southern cities, and

WHEREAS, The Montgomery City Lines, Incorporated through its attorney has stated that it “is willing to reinstate bus service into every district of the City and operate under {any] arrangement of seating the races that will meet with the approval of the City Commission . . . ”

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, The Negro Ministers of Montgomery and their Congregations, (The Methodist Ministerial Alliance, The Baptist Ministers’ Conference, The Inter-Denominational Ministerial Alliance) and The Montgomery Improvement Association, representing approximately 50,000 Negroes in the city and county of Montgomery, in meeting jointly called upon the City Commission of the City of Montgomery to adopt the following seating arrangement on busses operated within its jurisdiction:

That the seating of passengers will be on a “first come-first served” basis. This means that the Negro passengers will began seating from the rear of the bus toward the front, and the white passengers from the front toward the rear until all the seats are taken.

1. Quoted by Emory O. Jackson in “Seating May Bring End to Montgomery Bus Refuse to Ride,” Birmingham World, 10 January 1956.

2. Quoted in “Bus Request Denied ‘Boycott’ Spokesmen,’’’ Montgomery Advertiser, 10 January 1956.

Source: 

MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass., Box 6, folder 38 (CSKV87-A10)