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World House Podcast: Episode 5- Welcome to Montgomery!

Rosa Parks Arrest, December 1, 1955. Montgomery, AL

Rosa Parks Arrest, December 1, 1955. Montgomery, AL

May 22 2020

In 1954, Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King, Jr., moved to Montgomery, AL, where King began his pastorship at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The Church had a rich history, with many prominent ministers preceding King, including Dr. Vernon Johns.  As a social gospel minister, King committed himself to addressing social problems and played an active role in Montgomery's community.  He joined the local branch of the NAACP and encouraged his congregation to become politically active and register to vote. During their first year in Montgomery, the young King family settled into their new home, and in November 1955 Coretta gave birth to Yolanda Denise "Yoki," the Kings' first daughter.

On December 1, 1955, one of Montgomery's most prominent community members came into the spotlight of local news: Rosa Parks. She refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger and was arrested for violating the segregation laws. In response to Mrs. Parks' arrest, local black leaders called for a boycott of the city busses. Jo Ann Robinson, a member of the Women’s Political Council, spread the news of the protest by printing and distributing 52,500 leaflets calling for a boycott on Monday, December 5 in protest of Mrs. Parks' arrest and the injustice of segregation laws. Much to the organizers' surprise, the boycott was nearly 100% successful and the buses remained empty. On that very same evening, the local leaders, including E. D. Nixon, Ralph Abernathy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., called for a meeting in which the future of the boycott would be discussed. To help sustain the boycott, the leaders founded the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) and elected King as president. In just a few minutes before this first meeting, King prepared the speech that would inspire and motivate the people of Montgomery to carry out the protest for the next 381 days.

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Liberation Curriculum