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"New Fields Await Negroes, King Tells Mass Meeting"

Date: 
December 24, 1956
Location: 
Montgomery, Ala.
Genre: 
Article
Topic: 
Montgomery Bus Boycott
Voter registration

Details

At 1:30 A.M. on 23 December King and his family were awakened by a shotgun blast shattering their front door, a harbinger of the violence that would plague Montgomery the following month. At Dexter's regular Sunday service that morning King “softly and without emotion” informed his congregation of the shooting, which injured no one and caused little damage. He told church members that he “would have liked to meet those who had done the shooting to tell them that surely they must know they could not solve problems that way. Without raising his voice, he added that even if he died his killers “would have 50,000 other Negroes here to 'get.'" He stated that “it may be that some of us have to die,” but the struggle will continue. An observer reported that “there was no stir in the congregation, no sign that anyone was surprised.”1 At the mass meeting that evening, attended by several hundred, King outlines future integration efforts being considered by the MIA.

The head of the boycott supporting Montgomery Improvement Assn., last night outlined other fields which he said his group “is turning its efforts toward now that the city buses are integrated.”2

Speaking at a mass meeting of Negroes, Rev. M. L. King, Jr., said the areas were:

1. “Recreation: We have none, but we must work toward being able to use all facilities with the same determination we worked on with the buses. Separate but equal always winds up with it being separate but far from equal. Oak Park, for example, would certainly be all right for us.”

2. “Voting: The more Negroes we can get registered, the stronger we’ll be. If a city commissioner or official doesn’t please us, we can use our vote in a determining and decisive way.”

3. “Internal areas. We must work within our race to raise economic, health and intellectual standings.”

4. “Education. Here, we are going to lose many of our white friends that helped us during the bus boycott. Even still we must have integrated schools as the Supreme Court in 1954 ruled we can. That is when our race will gain full equality. We cannot rest in Montgomery until every public school is integrated.”

The Negro minister urged that all Negroes return to riding the buses. “We must go back to the buses in big numbers. Then, perhaps, we might even be able to do something about the fares.”

He said several people had complained because the fare was now 15 cents instead of the 10 cents when the Negroes first began their boycott. “Let me say, however, I would rather pay $2 to ride an integrated bus than pay one cent to ride a segregated one.”

He cautioned bus riders to remain calm “in case there should be any violence. Get the facts, watch for people who look as if they might start trouble. If there are cars following the bus suspiciously, by all means, get the tag numbers.

“Without all of this, you don’t have a case. Even if the police, perhaps, won’t do anything there is always the FBI,” he said.

1. George Barnett, “Shot Hits Home of Bus Bias Foe,” New York Times, 24 December 1956.

2. See similar recommendations in the report of the MIA Future Planning Committee, 14 March 1957, MLKP-MBU: Box 2.

Source: 

Montgomery Advertiser (24 December 1956).