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Program for MIA Mass Meeting at First Baptist Church

Montgomery Improvement Association
December 15, 1955
Montgomery, Ala.
Montgomery Bus Boycott


This is Kings copy of an agenda for the MIA’s fourth mass meeting, which was held at Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s First Baptist Church. At the bottom King wrote notes for his “Progress Report and instructions.” In his talk he sharply distinguished between the boycott tactics of the MIA and those of the Citizens Council, probably responding to a 13 December Montgomery Advertiser editorial, titled “The 2-Edged Sword,” that equated the two. Rufus A. Lewis, head of the transportation committee, reported that the three-day-old car pool system had been successful, with 215 volunteer drivers participating.

Mass Meeting of Montgomery Improvement Association

First Baptist Church—December 15,1955—7:00 P.M.

Presiding Officer—Roy Bennett (Speaks of the importance of following the program)

Hymn—“Lift Him Up.”

Reading of Scripture—Rev. H. H. Johnson1

Invocation—Rev. R. W. Hilson

Song—“Joy to the World”

Report of Transportation Committee—Rev. W. J. Powell2 {Mr. Rufus Lewis}

Acknowledgment of Visitors—Mr. J. Peirce {Pierce}3

Progress Report and instructions—Rev. M. L. King

Appeal for Funds—and Collection of Funds—Rev. R. J. Glascoe

Closing Remarks—Rev. M. L. King

Closing Hymn—[strikeout illegible] ‘‘Blessed Be the Tide”

Benediction—Rev. J. T. Thomas {E. H. Mason}

Next Meeting—Hutchinson Street Baptist Church—Rev. H. H. Johnson

Time—7:00, Monday night.


1. Thanks for presence

2. The papers reveal that we have many white with us5

3. Again we are not to be compared to the Citizen’s Councils

4. We are still getting cooperation (we walk if necessary)

5. We are waiting to hear from Chicago6

Annocement: The new Headquarters7

Patronize Negro Business           All drivers meet at Dexter tomorrow}

1. H. H. Johnson was pastor of Hutchinson Street Baptist Church from 1934 to 1971 and was among the ministers indicted for his role in the boycott.

2. William J. Powell (1908-1982) was pastor of Old Ship AME Zion Church from 1953 to 1964. He served on the original executive board of the MIA and was among the indicted ministers.

3. James E. Pierce (1895-1982), born in Lowndes County, Alabama, was an active leader in the Montgomery black community before and during the Montgomery bus boycott. Pierce received his B.S. from the University of Toledo and his M.S. from Ohio State University. In the early 1930s he became a professor of political science at Alabama State College and later chair of the department. As secretary of the Civic League and board member of other organizations, Pierce championed the cause of voter registration. He was a member of the MIA’s executive board and negotiating committee and was among those indicted for their role in the bus boycott. He wrote, with Ralph H. Hines, “Negro Leadership after the Social Crisis: An Analysis of Leadership Changes in Montgomery, Alabama,” Phylon 26 (1965): 162-172.

4. This is the amount of money collected at the preceding mass meeting, at Bethel Baptist Church, on 12 December 1955.

5. King refers to the extent of white support for the protest as indicated by letters to the editor—for example, city librarian Juliette Morgan’s letter, titled “Lesson from Gandhi,” in the Montgomery Advertiser on 12 December 1955.

6. See King et al. to the National City Lines, Inc., 8 December 1955, pp. 80-81 in this volume. On 16 December 1955 Vice President Totten of National City Lines in Chicago came to Montgomery to confer with the local bus company and city officials; he contacted the MIA the following day.

7. King announced the transfer of the MIA’s office from the Alabama Negro Baptist Center to Lewis’s Citizens Club. The MIA left its first headquarters after the white Montgomery Baptist Association pressured the center’s trustees. In late January the organization had to relocate again when city officials threatened to revoke the club’s license. After temporary lodging in the basement of Abernathy’s First Baptist Church, the MIA found a permanent office in the building owned by the Bricklayers Union at 530 South Union Street.


MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.