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MIA Press Release, The Bus Protest Is Still On

Author: 
King, Martin Luther, Jr. (Montgomery Improvement Association)
Genre: 
Letter
Topic: 
Montgomery Bus Boycott

Details

On Saturday night, 21 January, King received word from Minneapolis reporter Carl T. Rowan of an Associated Press wire story stating that an agreement to end the bus boycott had been reached between the city commissioners and a “group of prominent Negro ministers.”1 Earlier that day the commissioners had indeed arranged a meeting with three ministers not associated with the MIA and apparently persuaded them to accept a settlement preserving designated sections for white and black bus riders. King and other MIA leaders quickly spread word throughout the black community that the three pastors did not represent the MA and that the boycott was continuing. This is Kings handwritten draft of the MIA's response, portions of which were quoted in the Montgomery Advertiser on 24 January.2

You have probably received a statement release from Commissioner Clyde Sellers stating that the Montgomery bus protest is nearing an end as a result of a meeting with a group of Negro ministers, city bus line officials, and the city Commission. If this release gives the impression that [strikeout illegible] an agreement has been reached, it is totally erroneous. The city has If there were any ministers in a meeting with the city Commission on Saturday, I assure you that they do not represent even a modicum of the Negro bus riders. {More than 99 percent of the} The Negro citizens of Mont have stated their position and it remains the same. The bus protest is still on and it will last until our proposals are given sympathetic consideration through our appointed leaders.

The Montgomery Improvement Ass.
Rev. M. L. King Jr., Pres.
Rev. U. J. Fields, Secr

1. Quotation from “City Commission States Position on Bus Services,” Montgomery Advertiser, 22 January 1956. Carl Thomas Rowan (1925-), born in Ravenscroft, Tennessee, earned his B.A. (1947) from Oberlin College and his M.A. (1948) from the University of Minnesota. The Minneapolis Tribune hired Rowan in 1948 as its first black reporter. Three years later Rowan won the first of many awards for a series of eighteen articles entitled “How Far from Slavery?” His first profile of the boycott appeared as ‘Jim Crow Rides on Buses, So 60,000 Walk” in the Minneapolis Tribune on 22 January 1956. In 1961, Rowan became deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs and was named ambassador to Finland in 1963. In 1964 he was appointed head of the United States Information Agency. The following year Rowan became the first black syndicated columnist, writing for the Chicago Daily News. Rowan discussed his involvement in the Montgomery movement in his memoir, Breaking Ground (1991).

2. Joe Azbell, “Mayor Stops Boycott Talk,” Montgomery Advertiser, 24 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)